Business & Information Systems Engineering

Document Type

Research Paper


Business processes and their outcomes rely on data whose values are changed during process execution. When unexpected changes occur, e.g., due to last minute changes of circumstances, human errors, or corrections of detected errors in data values, this may have consequences for various parts of the process. This challenges the process participants to understand the full impact of the changes and decide on responses or corrective actions. To tackle this challenge, the paper suggests a semi-automated approach for data impact analysis. The approach entails a trans-formation of business process models to a relational database representation, to which querying is applied, in order to retrieve process elements that are related to a given data change. Specifically, the proposed method receives a data item (an attribute or an object) and information about the current state of process execution (in the form of a trace upon which an unexpected change has occurred). It analyzes the impact of the change in terms of activities, other data items, and gateways that are affected. When evaluating the usefulness of the approach through a case study, it was found that it has the potential to assist experienced process participants, especially when the consequences of the change are extensive, and its locus is in the middle of the process. The approach contributes both to practice with tool-supported guidance on how to handle unexpected data changes, and to research with a set of impact analysis primitives and queries.