Requirements elicitation as a case of social process #BPM2009 #BPMS2’09

Giorgio Bruno of Politecnico di Torino presented a paper on requirements elicitation as a social process. First, he covered the distinction between business processes – an emphasis on control flow, with the process distributing work to the participants – and social processes – where participants perform actions in a shared space, and including the participants, their actions and the artifacts produced.

He introduced a proof of concept textual language used to formally describe social processes, SPL. As he walked through it, it wasn’t clear to me the advantages of this over a graphical language for describing processes such as BPMN, although it is more descriptive around social actions such as adding participants to the process team. However, when he moved past the initial actions of electing a team/board member to details of writing requirements, the language expanded significantly to allow direct representation of documents and their components within a wiki, and member voting on the content created.

Next in their research is bridging the gap between business processes and social processes, with two possible directions:

  • Introduce control flow features to SPL for better support of direct, predefined interaction between participants.
  • Move cooperative features into business processes, for example, directly supporting wiki collaboration as part of a structured process.

As he pointed out at the end, BPMN and BPEL are not well-suited to social processes, and SPL is not well-suited to business processes; the hot topic is about which notation to use for these integrated processes, and the extensions required to any of the existing notations in order to support both types.

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