Adeptflex—Supporting Dynamic Changes of Workflows Without Losing Control

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Abstract

Today's workflow management systems (WFMSs) are only applicable in a secure and safe manner if the business process (BP) to be supported is well-structured and there is no need for ad hoc deviations at run-time. As only few BPs are static in this sense, this significantly limits the applicability of current workflow (WF) technology. On the other hand, to support dynamic deviations from premodeled task sequences must not mean that the responsibility for the avoidance of consistency problems and run-time errors is now completely shifted to the (naive) end user. In this paper we present a formal foundation for the support of dynamic structural changes of running WF instances. Based upon a formal WF model (ADEPT), we define a complete and minimal set of change operations (ADEPTflex) that support users in modifying the structure of a running WF, while maintaining its (structural) correctness and consistency. The correctness properties defined by ADEPT are used to determine whether a specific change can be applied to a given WF instance or not. If these properties are violated, the change is either rejected or the correctness must be restored by handling the exceptions resulting from the change. We discuss basic issues with respect to the management of changes and the undoing of temporary changes at the instance level. Recently we have started the design and implementation of ADEPTworkflow, the ADEPT workflow engine, which will make use of the change facilities presented in this paper.

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