BPM Milan: Visual Support for Work Assignment

Massimiliano de Leoni presented a paper on Visual Support for Work Assignment in Process-Aware Information Systems, co-authored by Wil van der Aalst and Arthur ter Hofstede.

This is relevant for systems with worklists, where it may not be clear to the user which work item to select based on a variety of motivations. In most commercial BPMS, a worklist contains just a list of items, each with a short description of some sort; he is proposing a visual map of work items and resources, where any number of maps can be defined based on different metrics. In such a map, the user can select the work item based on its location on the map, which represents its suitability for processing by that user at that time.

He walked us through the theory behind this, then the structure of the visualization framework as implemented. He walked us through an example of how this would appear on a geographic map, which was a surprise to me: I was thinking about more abstract mapping concepts, but he had a geographic example that used a Google map to visualize the location of the resources (people who can process the work item) and work items. He also showed a timeline map, where work items were positioned based on time remaining to a deadline.

Maybe I’m just not a visual person, but I don’t see why the same information can’t be conveyed by sorting the worklist (where the user would then choose the first item in the list as being the highest recommendation), although future research in turning a time-lapse of the maps into a movie for process mining is a cool concept.

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