A Web Business Process Optimiser

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: Sch of Applied Sciences

Abstract

Business process optimisation is the automated improvement of business processes using pre-specified measures of performance (criteria). The importance of business process optimisation lies in its ability to (re-)design a business process based on quantitative evaluation criteria. This concept stresses the need to generate alternative business process designs based on the given process requirements, and quantitatively evaluate and compare these designs. One of the latest trends in business process composition and optimisation is the use of web services as the structural elements for constructing a business process.A web service is a discretely defined set of contiguous and autonomous business or technical functionalities implemented over a network. This concept is in-line with the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) concept that is already popular within the service industry. The technique outlined in this proposal can compose web business processes (i.e. business processes composed of web services) using evolutionary optimisation algorithms. The use of evolutionary optimisation algorithms facilitates the composition of a population of optimised business process designs (based on given criteria) using a library of web services that are available on-line. The composed designs incorporate business process patterns such as OR, LOOP and AND that are frequently encountered in real-life business processes. The functionality of the proposed technique can provide significant benefits to any service-based organisation that seeks to shift its operations over a (local or extended) network and improve the functionality, responsiveness, efficiency and cost of the internal and external business processes. The proposed technique can also deal with on-line collaborative business processes between different organisations; this is also a recent and popular trend among service providers.The aim of the proposed project is to develop a commercially exploitable software tool for optimising web business processes. To achieve this aim, the following objectives will be realised:- Develop further the business process optimisation framework, created in the EPSRC project 'Intelligent Decision Support for Process Re-design and Conformance' (Intelli-Process, grant no. EP/C54899X/1), to address a range of web business processes using optimisation algorithms.- Develop further the business process optimisation pre-prototype, created in the EPSRC Intelli-Process project, to a comprehensive 'web business process optimiser' software tool with an interactive graphical user interface.- Develop a library of web services for providing the key functionalities required by a typical business process.- Develop a search facility that can update the library of web services in real-time as the 'web business process optimiser' is executed.- Test the software tool within a real-world service sector industrial environment and harden it to a prototype standard.- Further research and analyse the market for comparable optimisation tools (including customer and competitor surveys).

Publications

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A Tiwari (First Author) (2011) An Automated Business Process Optimisation Framework for the Development of Re-configurable Business Processes in 7th International Conference on Digital Enterprise Technology (DET-2011)

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A Tiwari (First Author) (2010) Drivers and Barriers to the Adoption of Web 2.0 in 6th International Conference on Web Information Systems and Technologies (WEBIST-2010)

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Ashutosh Tiwari (First Author) (2010) Multi-objective Optimisation of Web Business Processes in Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS)

 
Description Business process optimisation is the automated improvement of business processes using pre-specified measures of performance (criteria). The importance of business process optimisation lies in its ability to (re-)design a business process based on quantitative evaluation criteria. This concept stresses the need to generate alternative business process designs based on the given process requirements, and quantitatively evaluate and compare these designs. One of the latest trends in business process composition and optimisation is the use of web services as the structural elements for constructing a business process.

A web service is a discretely defined set of contiguous and autonomous business or technical functionalities implemented over a network. This concept is in-line with the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) concept that is already popular within the service industry. The software tool developed in this project can compose web business processes (i.e. business processes composed of web services) using evolutionary optimisation algorithms. The use of evolutionary optimisation algorithms facilitates the composition of a population of optimised business process designs (based on given criteria) using a library of web services that are available on-line. The composed designs incorporate business process patterns such as OR, LOOP and AND that are frequently encountered in real-life business processes. The functionality of the software tool can provide significant benefits to any service-based organisation that seeks to shift its operations over a (local or extended) network and improve the functionality, responsiveness, efficiency and cost of the internal and external business processes. The software tool can also deal with on-line collaborative business processes between different organisations; this is also a recent and popular trend among service providers.
Exploitation Route Currently no commercial Business Process Management (BPM) suite offers any business process optimisation capability, although there is a strong need within the service industry. This was identified through an industry survey carried out as part of the EPSRC Intelli-Process project (grant no. EP/C54899X/1). The unique selling point of the proposed Web Business Process Optimiser (WebBPO) is its ability to automatically generate optimised web business processes, based on specific process requirements, using a library of web services. The WebBPO can be employed as an additional module in a BPM suite. It can significantly enhance a BPM suite by offering it additional capabilities for dealing with the contemporary business process environment where there is a strong shift towards Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and web services. It can also deal with on-line collaborative business processes between different organisations; this is also a recent and popular trend among service providers. The functionality of the WebBPO can provide significant benefits to any service-based organisation that seeks to shift its operations over a (local or extended) network and improve the functionality, responsiveness, efficiency and cost of the internal and external business processes. Organisations with automated business processes are most likely to be interested in WebBPO as their processes are already orchestrated or enacted by software tools. Therefore, shifting their operations to web business processes would be an attractive and straight-forward option. From the investigators' industry survey carried out as part of the EPSRC Intelli-Process project (grant no. EP/C54899X/1), it was found that banking and finance organisations enjoyed the highest levels of business process automation. In addition, it is likely that online retailers and call centres would also possess automated BPM suites. Due to the above, the following user groups were targeted as potential customers and beneficiaries of the proposed WebBPO software: banks and other financial institutions, online retailers, and call centres.

Routes to Market: A number of revenue raising vehicles (including end user licensing, online service, consultancy and software vendor licensing) were investigated and assessed as commercialisation opportunities and routes to market for the software tool. The market analysis report guided the selection of the consultancy option as the most effective commercialisation route for this project. The consultancy route offers a low cost entry to market with the potential for a substantial financial return in the medium to long term. An initial commercialisation strategy, covering route to market and intellectual property, was developed with the help of Cranfield University Business Development Directorate.

Business Events: An open day presentation was organised to help in networking and marketing the software. The project team participated in 4 industry focused seminars/conferences. The principal investigator also presented a poster on this project at the 2010 EPSRC Theme Day in Manufacturing Research. Marketing brochures/posters on the project were produced and a website was used as a medium to promote and distribute the publications and results arising from the project.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description Currently no commercial Business Process Management (BPM) suite offers any business process optimisation capability, although there is a strong need within the service industry. This was identified through an industry survey carried out as part of the EPSRC Intelli-Process project (grant no. EP/C54899X/1). The unique selling point of the proposed Web Business Process Optimiser (WebBPO) is its ability to automatically generate optimised web business processes, based on specific process requirements, using a library of web services. The WebBPO can be employed as an additional module in a BPM suite. It can significantly enhance a BPM suite by offering it additional capabilities for dealing with the contemporary business process environment where there is a strong shift towards Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and web services. It can also deal with on-line collaborative business processes between different organisations; this is also a recent and popular trend among service providers. The functionality of the WebBPO can provide significant benefits to any service-based organisation that seeks to shift its operations over a (local or extended) network and improve the functionality, responsiveness, efficiency and cost of the internal and external business processes. Organisations with automated business processes are most likely to be interested in WebBPO as their processes are already orchestrated or enacted by software tools. Therefore, shifting their operations to web business processes would be an attractive and straight-forward option. From the investigators' industry survey carried out as part of the EPSRC Intelli-Process project (grant no. EP/C54899X/1), it was found that banking and finance organisations enjoyed the highest levels of business process automation. In addition, it is likely that online retailers and call centres would also possess automated BPM suites. Due to the above, the following user groups were targeted as potential customers and beneficiaries of the proposed WebBPO software: banks and other financial institutions, online retailers, and call centres.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Research Collaboration with Alstom
Amount £19,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Cranfield-Alstom Industrial Contract Research 
Organisation Alstom 
Sector Private
Country France
Start 10/2012 
End 10/2013
 
Description Research Collaboration with Axillium Research
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Cranfield-Axillium PhD Studentship 
Organisation Axillium Research 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2011 
End 11/2014
 
Description Research Collaboration with EADS
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Cranfield-EADS Industrial Contract Research 
Organisation Airbus Group 
Department EADS Innovation Works
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2011 
End 10/2013