Business process models and entity life cycles
Keywords:business processes, control flow, dataflow, artifact, entity life cycle
Tasks and business entities are the major constituents of business processes but they are not always considered equally important. The activity-centric approach and the artifact-oriented one have radically different visions. The former focuses on the control flow, i.e., on the representation of the precedence constraints between tasks, and considers the dataflow an add-on. The latter emphasizes the states of the business entities and defines the transitions between states in a declarative way that makes it difficult to figure out what the control flow is. This paper presents the ELBA notation whose purpose is to integrate those different visions by leveraging the dataflow. The dataflow defines the input and output entities of the tasks in process models. Entities flowing through tasks change their states and then a process model results from the combination of the life cycles of the entities managed by the process. Process models are complemented by information models that show the attributes and relationships of the entity types handled by the processes. Life cycles are intertwined in process models but they can be separated by means of an extraction technique that is illustrated in this paper with the help of two examples.