KAOS: Knowledge-Aware Operational Support
Business Process Management (BPM) is a collection of techniques, languages, and methodologies that are meant to improve corporate performance by managing and optimizing the business processes of a company. Business processes in turn consist of a combination of tasks and operations that are coordinated towards the achievement of the strategic objectives of an organization, and the creation of value for its stakeholders.
While BPM is a mature field for what concerns modeling and enactment of business processes, it is still lacking in the proper support and analysis of the active process executions. Enhancing BPM with these capabilities would make it possible to give feedback to the involved agents about issues and deviations, as well as provide them advices and predictions on the possible future continuations of the running processes. This is a key aspect, especially in those application domains where there is no guarantee that the process will be executed as expected, and where unforeseen situations may arise. This is the case, e.g., in healthcare, complex engineering processes, and inter-organizational processes.
For this reason, business process operational decision support (OS) has been recently put forward as a framework that produces meaningful feedbacks, based on facts and reality, to domain experts, assisting them in the execution of business processes inside a given organizational context. OS techniques range from compliance checking between the observed and the expected behavior, to prediction of indicators related to the future continuation of the process, and recommendations on what to do next.
So far, the large majority of OS techniques focused on very specific problems, without taking into account three fundamental factors:
The complexity and specificity of the organizational domain in which business processes are immersed. The interplay among the business process executions, the manipulated data, the agents, and the organizational structure. The fact that the organizational domain continuously evolves, i.e., is subject to “concept drift”, in turn calling for flexibility in process-aware information system but also in the corresponding OS techniques.
The main goal of the KAOS project is to overcome such issues by empowering OS with domain knowledge. In particular, KAOS will develop a foundational framework of concepts covering organizations, processes, participants, and information as relevant for Knowledge-empowered OS. It will then exploit this framework as the basis for the development of a new generation of OS techniques truly flexible and able to support domain experts and business analysts in the effective execution of business processes.