Conference Paper

From Informal Process Diagrams to Formal Process Models.

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-15618-2_12 Conference: Business Process Management - 8th International Conference, BPM 2010, Hoboken, NJ, USA, September 13-16, 2010. Proceedings
Source: DBLP

ABSTRACT Process modeling is an important activity in business transformation projects. Free-form diagramming tools, such as PowerPoint
and Visio, are the preferred tools for creating process models. However, the designs created using such tools are informal
sketches, which are not amenable to automated analysis. Formal models, although desirable, are rarely created (during early
design) because of the usability problems associated with formal-modeling tools. In this paper, we present an approach for
automatically inferring formal process models from informal business process diagrams, so that the strengths of both types
of tools can be leveraged. We discuss different sources of structural and semantic ambiguities, commonly present in informal
diagrams, which pose challenges for automated inference. Our approach consists of two phases. First, it performs structural
inference to identify the set of nodes and edges that constitute a process model. Then, it performs semantic interpretation,
using a classifier that mimics human reasoning to associate modeling semantics with the nodes and edges. We discuss both supervised
and unsupervised techniques for training such a classifier. Finally, we report results of empirical studies, conducted using
flow diagrams from real projects, which illustrate the effectiveness of our approach.

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