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SEAM: A State-Entity-Activity-Model for a Well-Defined Workflow Development Methodology
March/April 2002 (vol. 14 no. 2)
pp. 415-431

Current conceptual workflow models use either informally defined conceptual models or several formally defined conceptual models that capture different aspects of the workflow, e.g., the data, process, and organizational aspects of the workflow. To the best of our knowledge, there are no algorithms that can amalgamate these models to yield a single view of reality. A fragmented conceptual view is useful for systems analysis and documentation. However, it fails to realize the potential of conceptual models to provide a convenient interface to automate the design and management of workflows. First, as a step toward accomplishing this objective, we propose SEAM (State-Entity-Activity-Model), a conceptual workflow model defined in terms of set theory. Second, no attempt has been made, to the best of our knowledge, to incorporate time into a conceptual workflow model. SEAM incorporates the temporal aspect of workflows. Third, we apply SEAM to a real-life organizational unit's workflows. In this work, we show a subset of the workflows modeled for this organization using SEAM. We also demonstrate, via a prototype application, how the SEAM schema can be implemented on a relational database management system. We present the lessons we learned about the advantages obtained for the organization and, for developers who choose to use SEAM, we also present potential pitfalls in using the SEAM methodology to build workflow systems on relational platforms. The information contained in this work is sufficient enough to allow application developers to utilize SEAM as a methodology to analyze, design, and construct workflow applications on current relational database management systems. The definition of SEAM as a context-free grammar, definition of its semantics, and its mapping to relational platforms should be sufficient also, to allow the construction of an automated workflow design and construction tool with SEAM as the user interface.

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Index Terms:
workflow systems, data modeling, process modeling, relational databases, temporal models, requirements engineering
Citation:
A. Bajaj, S. Ram, "SEAM: A State-Entity-Activity-Model for a Well-Defined Workflow Development Methodology," IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 415-431, March-April 2002, doi:10.1109/69.991725
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