IT Directions

Keith Harrison-Broninski

The new process modelling - adding people to a process

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In my last entry about object-oriented process modelling, I described HIM Roles and started to explain why they are nothing like swim lanes in procedural notations such as BPMN and the UML.

In this post I'll look at another crucial difference.  This one may have you wondering how you ever managed to use procedural process notations in the first place.

Taking an example at random, let's suppose you are describing a process for creating a series of marketing brochures.  One key player in this process is a graphic designer, responsible for creating the fonts, colours, images, and so on that are used in the brochures.  Now let's suppose that the deadline for publication is brought forward, which results in there being too much work for the graphic designer alone.  You need to bring in another graphic designer.  How can you do capture this using (for example) BPMN?

The short answer is that you can't.  There is no simple way to duplicate a swim lane, and even if you manage to do so, it is almost impossible to share work between the new swim lane and the old swim lane in a natural way.  This is because the procedural approach is based on tasks carried out in order - as described in my last post, the swim lane itself only exists to group its tasks.  There is nothing in a BPMN diagram to represent the people that do the work, or how they share its inputs and outputs.

By contrast, in a HIMS such as HumanEdj, all you need to do is copy the graphic designer Role, and assign to the copy to a different person.  The new Role immediately has access to all the same information as the old Role, since it belongs to the same Stages.  By default, the new Role also has a copy of each Activity in the old Role - this can be left intact, on the assumption that the Roles will negotiate informally which items of work to carry out (they may, for example, work together on all brochures)  or alternatively, some Activities can be deleted from each Role to partition the work more precisely.

More about OO process modelling in the next post.  In the meantime, if you would like to try HumanEdj, visit to register for an account on the demo Web instance.

Keith Harrison-Broninski cuts through the hype in his hands-on guide to where enterprise IT is really going

Keith Harrison-Broninski

Keith Harrison-Broninski is a researcher, writer, keynote speaker, software architect and consultant working at the forefront of the IT and business worlds.


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