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Title: A hybrid hierarchical task network planning and ontological approach for dynamic cross-enterprise business process formulation
Authors: Ko, Ryan Kok Leong
Keywords: DRNTU::Business::Operations management::Supply chain management
DRNTU::Engineering::Computer science and engineering::Computing methodologies::Artificial intelligence
DRNTU::Engineering::Computer science and engineering
DRNTU::Engineering::Computer science and engineering::Information systems::Information systems applications
Issue Date: 2011
Source: Ko, R. K. L. (2011). A hybrid hierarchical task network planning and ontological approach for dynamic cross-enterprise business process formulation. Doctoral thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: Every day, information is transacted in the Internet across different enterprises in business-to-business (B2B) collaborations. In a bid to manage the growing volume and complexity of supply chain information, many companies are turning to business process management systems (BPMS) and systems supporting B2B collaboration standards such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), RosettaNet and ebXML (Electronic Business using eXtensible Markup Language). According to a 2007 Gartner report, the BPMS market reached nearly US$1.7 billion in total software revenue at the end of 2006. This is testimony to a rapid growth of interest in business process management (BPM) over the last decade. Despite this growth, many current techniques are still static in nature, requiring substantial modifications/ (re)coding to re-establish the link between collaborating companies. Such modifications are expensive and impractical in a dynamic, global business environment characterized by frequent, rapid changes. At the same time, many prominent business process (BP) modelling techniques are rooted in computer process theories like state machines, Pi Calculus and Petri Nets, which are computationally efficient but are void of context and semantics so necessary in very complex, multi-party, high level business communications. Most importantly, these BP modelling techniques cannot dynamically synthesise business processes based on a user’s high-level business goals and constraints. The goal of this thesis is to discover, implement, test and verify a technique that enables agile B2B collaborations through the dynamic formulation of cross-enterprise business processes based on high-level user business goals and criteria. An extensive literature review into current BP research, industry best practices, BP modeling standards and B2B industry standards, revealed that the realization of this goal is contingent upon solving four sub-problems: (1) the problem of decomposing high level business goals and constraints (e.g. item price, lead time) on-the-fly into corresponding low-level tasks of adequate granularity, (2) the task of dynamically chaining these decomposed low-level tasks with the appropriate control and information flows, (3) the problem of representing the semantic characteristics and relationships between business processes components (e.g. tasks, sub-tasks, actors, methods of decomposition, control flow, etc.) and (4) the chained low-level tasks have to be implemented openly and directly on the WWW. These four sub-problems were addressed by a hybrid methodology which entails the dynamic decomposition and sequencing of tasks facilitated by Hierarchical Task Network (HTN) planning concepts, and the adoption of ontologies. HTN Planning employs so-called methods to establish the various permutations by which high level business processes can be decomposed into primitive tasks which are chained sequentially in a single level from left-to-right. Current business processes in industry do not use these methods. However, the primitive tasks do not reflect the true nature of real life cross-enterprise BP’s, which are a network of tasks with associated workflow patterns (e.g. merge, join, split, etc.). To address this reality, traditional HTN Planning was augmented with additional constructs such as workflow patterns and business constraints (e.g. item cost, quantity ordered, etc.). A methodology was proposed to model the hierarchical task networks to support dynamic B2B collaborations. Decomposition methods, compound and primitive tasks, and other components (e.g. actors, document information, etc.) needed to describe typical B2B collaborations were modeled into the proposed “Business-OWL” (BOWL) ontologies. Unlike the traditional problem description files used in HTN planning, ontologies can richly and semantically describe complex direct and indirect relationships between compound and primitive tasks, public-private business processes message exchange patterns, input-behaviour-output characteristics of executable tasks and actors, thereby facilitating implementation over the WWW. The augmented HTN Planning approach and the supporting ontologies were embodied in a prototype called Genesis. The business processes enabling business goals of order management and procurement, which are the main B2B collaboration processes, were successfully generated on-the-fly in Genesis. Genesis was further validated in a case study of a regional pallet-leasing company. Low-level operational tasks (e.g. issuing of hire notes, exchange notes, etc) were successfully decomposed on-the-fly from higher level business goals (e.g. buying raw materials from suppliers, selling pallets to food producers and the leasing pallets to supermarkets). With the ontology-augmented HTN Planning methodology, business goals can now be dynamically addressed on-the-fly, without the need to overhaul existing information technology (IT) infrastructures.
DOI: 10.32657/10356/43992
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:MAE Theses

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