Visual support for work assignment in process-aware information systems : framework formalisation and implementation

M. Leoni, de, M. Adams, W.M.P. Aalst, van der, A.H.M. Hofstede, ter

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28 Citations (SciVal)


Process-aware information systems, ranging from generic workflow systems to dedicated enterprise information systems, use work-lists to offer so-called work items to users. In real scenarios, users can be confronted with a very large number of work items that stem from multiple cases of different processes. In this jungle of work items, users may find it hard to choose the right item to work on next. The system cannot autonomously decide which is the right work item, since the decision is also dependent on conditions that are somehow outside the system. For instance, what is "best" for an organisation should be mediated with what is "best" for its employees. Current work-list handlers show work items as a simple sorted list and therefore do not provide much decision support for choosing the right work item. Since the work-list handler is the dominant interface between the system and its users, it is worthwhile to provide an intuitive graphical interface that uses contextual information about work items and users to provide suggestions about prioritisation of work items. This paper uses the so-called map metaphor to visualise work items and resources (e.g., users) in a sophisticated manner. Moreover, based on distance notions, the work-list handler can suggest the next work item by considering different perspectives. For example, urgent work items of a type that suits the user may be highlighted. The underlying map and distance notions may be of a geographical nature (e.g., a map of a city or office building), but may also be based on process designs, organisational structures, social networks, due dates, calendars, etc. The framework proposed in this paper is generic and can be applied to any process-aware information system. Moreover, in order to show its practical feasibility, the paper discusses a full-fledged implementation developed in the context of the open-source workflow environment YAWL, together with two real examples stemming from two very different scenarios. The results of an initial usability evaluation of the implementation are also presented, which provide a first indication of the validity of the approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-361
JournalDecision Support Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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