Change Management for Business Process Models

In the context of software engineering (SE), business process models are leveraged in nearly all stages of the development process and in the lifecycle of a software system. For instance, in Service-Oriented Architectures (SOA), high-level business process models become input for the development of IT systems, and in running IT systems executable process models describe choreographies of Web Services.

A key driver behind this development is the necessity for a closer alignment of business and IT requirements, to reduce the reaction times in software development to frequent changes in competitive markets. Typically in these scenarios, process models are developed, maintained, and transformed in a team environment by several stakeholders that are often from different business units, resulting in different versions. To obtain integrated process models comprising the changes applied to different versions, the versions need to be consolidated by means of model change management. Change management for process models can be compared to widely used concurrent versioning systems (CVS) and consists of the following major activities: matching of process models, detection of differences, computation of dependencies and conflicts between differences, and merging of process models.

Although in general model-based development (MBD) is accepted as a well established development approach, there are still some shortcomings that let developers decide against MBD and for more traditional development paradigms. These shortcomings comprise a lack of fully integrated and fully featured development environments for MBD, such as a comprehensive support for model change management.

In our research group, we address among others the following topics of model change management:

  • Model matching and similarity analysis of process models

  • Difference detection between different process models or process model versions

  • Dependency and conflict analysis of concurrently applied changes

  • Tool support for model change management 

Parts of our work contributed also to the Compare & Merge framework for the IBM WebSphere Business Modeler V 7.01 (WBM), which was released as an IBM product in fall 2009.

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