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Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Construction, Communication and Caring for Contextual Workflows: Scenarios from Homeland Defense

Construction, Communication and Caring for Contextual Workflows: Scenarios from Homeland Defense
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Author(s): Edward J. Glantz (Pennsylvania State University, USA) and Sandeep Purao (Pennsylvania State University, USA)
Copyright: 2003
Pages: 2
Source title: Information Technology & Organizations: Trends, Issues, Challenges & Solutions
Source Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-066-0.ch242
ISBN13: 9781616921248
EISBN13: 9781466665330


Exception handling1 (van der Aalst, Basten et al. 2000) and adaptive workflows2 (Rahm 2000) represent two prevalent directions to handling adjustments to workflows brought on by unexpected changes. The two directions suggest somewhat different approaches to workflow adjustments, the former involves direct adjustments at the case (instance) level, and the later addresses adjustments based on knowledge available at the definition (meta) level. The adjustment problems, however, can become severe, when the workflow instances occupy a large footprint in time and space. First, longlived workflows need to withstand changes in the environment. Second, workflows spread across multiple organizations need to respect the decentralized, and sometimes, conflicting goals of the participants. Issues that need attention to support such workflows include goal-articulation, goal-communication, and goal-sharing. Goal-based approaches3 (Kuechler and Vaishnavi 1998) address some of these concerns. However, they fail to address these adequately in response to changes in environment. Nickerson (Nickerson 2003) describes a limited exploration of these issues by suggesting an alternative to workflow reference models (Hollingsworth 1995), with the use of sequence diagrams (to capture the distinction between human actors and machine processes). Luo et al (2002) suggest a bundled exceptionhandling approach that includes case-based intelligent reasoning and reuse of exceptions for cross-organizational exception handling processes to resolve workflow failures4. Both the Luo and Nickerson approaches, however, cannot account for important workflow components such as resource restrictions, roles, responsibilities, and explicit goal-articulation – concerns that become more relevant for large-footprint workflows. In a world, where long-lived workflows across organizational boundaries are likely to occur with some frequency, a comprehensive approach is necessary for their construction, communication and caring. In this paper, we use multiple homeland defense scenarios (including one similar to that used by Nickerson (Nickerson 2003) with a view to identifying key issues that need to be addressed in workflows that possess a large footprint in space and time. Specifically, we focus on the articulation of goals, their evolution, and sharing across time and space to guide the monitoring of long-lived workflows that take place across multiple organizations.

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