Workflow engines

While humans are not good at processing systems models, we are much better at analysing and designing them. This leads to a natural human-computer partnership.”
Mark Zangari

In yesterday’s blog we discussed a lecture by Mark Zangari about Decision Support Systems (DSS).

Mark’s quote above is a really interesting one in the context of CSP process design. Humans are indeed quite proficient at designing workflows and analysing them for re-engineering but OSS can assist us to action these processes.

Many OSS have in-built workflow engines built into them to help break decision systems into tasks, sub-tasks and decision points, which are often run by separate groups within the CSP. As tasks are completed (automatically or manually) the workflow engine then tracks the process through to the next required task.

These workflow engines are powerful because they have the ability to coordinate business units, people, software, network devices and more. They generally also have the ability to be heavily customisable to handle changes in processes.

The workflow engines that I’ve seen allow for only a single process flow. They don’t allow for any natural variation, other than if the OSS administrators want to make a modification for the single “right” way of completing the process.

I’m more interested in computationally-assisted evolvable processes, ones that can accommodate natural variation and can use the increased or decreased efficiency to compare and refine the pre-defined “right” way.

I would love to hear from anyone who is aware of evolvable workflows, whether in the field of OSS or otherwise.

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