Implemented properly, workflow products enable companies to reengineer and streamline business processes. In Production Workflow: Concepts and Techniques, two of IBM's leading workflow experts demonstrate structures of production workflow systems and solutions that deliver maximum availability, reliability, and scalability. This start-to-finish, vendor-independent guide brings together best practices from these areas.
The authors walk step-by-step through modeling workflows and building workflow-based applications. You'll also learn about the properties of these applications and how appropriate architectures of workflow systems ensure these properties.
Whatever your role in workflow and/or reengineering projects, Production Workflow: Concepts and Techniques delivers the specific information you need to achieve results.
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Business Processes. Business Processes as Enterprise Resource. Virtual Enterprises. Processes and Workflows. Dimensions of Workflow. User Support. Categories of Workflows. Application Structure. Workflow and Objects. Application Operating System. Software Stack. Document/Image Processing. Groupware and Workflow. Different Views of Applications. Transactional Workflow. Advanced Usage. System Requirements. Relation to Other Technologies.
Business Modeling. Business Logic. Enterprise Structure. Information Technology Infrastructure. Business Modeling Example. Business Process Reengineering. Process Discovery. Process Optimization. Process Analysis. Business Engineering and Workflow. Monitoring.
Main Components. Types of Users. Buildtime. Metamodel Overview. Runtime. Audit Trail. Process Management. Authorization. Application Programming Interface. System Structure. Workflow Standards.
The Notion of a Metamodel. Process Data. Activities. Control Flow. Data Flow. Summary: PM-Graphs. Navigation. Summary: G-Instances.
Events. Dynamic Modification of Workflows. Advanced Join Conditions. Container Materialization. Object Staging. Context Management. Performance Spheres. Compile Spheres.
Component-based Software Construction. Scripts in Object-Oriented Analysis and Design. The Object Request Broker. The OMG Workflow Management Facility.
Basic Transaction Concepts. Advanced Transaction Concepts. Streams. Atomic Spheres. Compensation Spheres. Phoenix Behavior.
Monitoring Dynamic Integrity Rules. Software Distribution. Security Management. Business-Process-Oriented Systems Management.
Dependent Applications. Client/Server Structures. TP Monitors. Communication Paradigms. Message Monitors. Message Broker. Object Brokers. Distributed Applications. Web Applications. Workflow-based Applications.
Architectural Principles. System Structure. Servers. Client. Program Execution. System Group. Domains. System Tuning. Workload Management. Systems Management. Exploiting Parallel Databases. Server Implementation Aspects. Navigation. Message Queuing Usage. Process Compiler.
Development Environment Blueprint. Component Generation. Testing. Animation. Debugging Activity Implementations. Application Database Design. Application Tuning. Optimization.
Workflow is a new information processing technology that helps implement businessprocesses that can be easily adapted to the changing needs of a dynamic environment.These processes are no longer just intra-enterprise business processes, suchas claims processing in an insurance company or loan processing in a bank, but alsointer-enterprise business processes, where multiple enterprises' business processesare connected to efficiently manage a business process. An example of an inter-enterprisebusiness process is the order activity involved in a manufacturing processthat starts the appropriate order entry process at a parts supplier. While the productionplanning process and the entry order process of the part supplier are differentprocesses controlled by their own enterprise, they are combined to efficiently meettheir common needs.
Workflow management systems help to define and carry out these businessprocesses in a heterogeneous and distributed environment. They make sure thatwithin a business process the right activity is performed at the right time, at theright place, by the right people, with the right data, using the right tools. Applicationsthat are built using workflow management systems are called workflow-basedapplications.
Standard application software vendors are beginning to provide their applicationsas workflow-based applications. These applications consist of a set of businessprocesses that invoke functions of business objects. Tools supplied by standard applicationsoftware vendors allow for the easy modification of the business processesso that they can be tailored to the specific needs of customers.
Since those workflows are mission critical for a company, they must be managedin the same way as any other critical resource within a company. This managementrequires functions and capabilities that go beyond the simple administrativetype of workflows, such as managing processes with an office mail system. Theseworkflows are called production workflows, and systems that manage productionworkflows are called production workflow management systems.
Production workflow management systems thus must provide the scalability,availability, and performance characteristics that are expected from other components that are used to build those mission-critical applications. Typical componentsare database management systems, message queuing systems, and transaction processing(TP) monitors. This set of components is collectively referred to as middleware.
The authors expect that middleware providers follow IBM and make workflowmanagement systems an integral part of their middleware offerings, building oncomponents that may already be available in their portfolio.
The mission-critical nature of workflow-based applications mandates that thecustomer's investment is protected. The Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC),a consortium of workflow management system vendors and users, had set itself thegoal to establish standards for workflow management systems. Those standardsdefine a set of interfaces for clients to interact with the workflow managementsystem, for applications that are carried out by the workflow management system,and for workflow management systems to communicate with each other.
This book focuses, as its title indicates, on the following aspects of workflow andworkflow management systems:
We have chosen two business processes that we use throughout the book: avery simple loan process when we talk about basic concepts; and a more elaborateprocess, a travel reservation process, when we talk about the constructs that theworkflow management system offers for modeling business processes or when wedescribe some of the more complex features such as compensation of actions withina business process.
This book does not present:
This book addresses a broad audience, including:
We, the authors, have been involved in the development of the IBM productionworkflow management system MQSeries Workflow and its predecessor IBM Flow-Markfor years. This book reflects our understanding of workflow and productionworkflow in particular. As we have yet to see a product version of a workflow systemthat incorporates all of the presented concepts and techniques, we have electedto neutrally talk about the workflow management system instead of discussing individualconcepts using, for example, IBM's MQSeries Workflow. In particular, wewant to present the concepts and techniques of production workflow and not discussspecific implementations of these. A number of the concepts and techniques presentedin this book have been implemented in a production workflow managementsystem such as MQSeries Workflow; some may never find their way into a productdespite the fact that they are worth implementing. You should also note that anumber of these concepts and techniques are patented, anyone planning to build aworkflow management system using them must obtain the appropriate rights beforeincorporating them.
Here is a summary of each chapter:
We recommend you read the book as you would reading a novel, starting at thebeginning and continuing until the end. In this way, you start with more generalinformation, then dig deeper into each of the various aspects of production workflow.However, different sections of the book are relatively independent of other sections,to allow you to focus on different themes. The only required reading is Chapter 1,Introduction, since it provides the basic foundation for all of the subsequent chapters.
For example, if you are interested in application development, you would readChapter 2, Business Engineering, to understand the motivation for process managementand the starting point for developing workflow-based applications; Chapter 6,Workflow and Objects, to understand the relationship between object technologyand workflow technology; Chapter 9, Application Topologies, to understand thebenefits of workflow-based applications; and Chapter 11, Developing Workflow-basedApplications, to understand how workflow-based applications are constructedand optimized.
If you are interested in modeling workflows, you would want to read Chapter2, Business Engineering, to understand the basic principles of business processes;Chapter 3, Workflow Management System Basics, to understand the basic structureof a workflow management system and its fundamental functions; Chapter 4, Metamodel,to understand the various constructs that are available to model workflows;and Chapter 7, Workflow and Transactions, to discuss the transactional propertiesof workflows.
If you are interested in transactions, you would want to read Chapter 6, Workflowand Objects; Chapter 7, Workflow and Transactions; and Chapter 9, ApplicationTopologies.
Or, if you are interested in the system structure of a production workflowmanagement system, you would want to read Chapter 10, System Structure andArchitecture.
The authors have made a reasonable effort to ensure that the information in this bookis accurate. The authors do not offer any warranties or representations nor accept anyliabilities related to the information contained in the book.
The information contained in this book is distributed on an "as is" basis withoutany warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied and including, but notlimited to, the implied warranties of function of the technologies and concepts ormerchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. The use of this information orthe implementation of any of these techniques is a reader responsibility and dependson the reader's ability to evaluate, to implement, and to integrate the techniques intothe reader's operational environment. Readers attempting to adapt these techniquesdo so at their own risk.
Opinions expressed in this book, as well as any errors and omissions, arestrictly those of the authors. The contents of this book in no way reflect the officialopinions or positions of the International Business Machines Corporation.