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Abstract

Business process models are widely used for purposes such as analyzing information systems, improving operational efficiency, modeling supply chains, and re-engineering business processes. A critical aspect of process representation involves a choice among alternative or parallel routes. Such choices are usually represented in process models by routing structures that appear as “split” and “merge” nodes. However, evidence indicates that modelers face difficulties representing routing options correctly. Clearly, errors in representing routing options might negatively affect the effective use of business process models. We suggest that this difficulty can be mitigated by providing process modelers with a catalog of routing possibilities described in terms that are meaningful to analysts. Based on theoretical considerations, we develop such a catalog and demonstrate that its entries have business meaning and that it is complete with respect to a defined scope of process behaviors that do not depend on resources or on software features. The catalog includes some routing cases not previously recognized. We tested experimentally the catalog in helping subjects understand process behavior. The findings demonstrate that the catalog helps modelers understand and conceptualize process behavior and that the likely reasons are its completeness and the practical terms used to describe its entries.

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