PhD defense Shaya Pourmirza: “Runtime Party Switch in an Inter-Organizational Collaboration”

cover-2016-10-05On Tuesday, November 8th @4PM Auditorium 4, Shaya Pourmirza will defend his Ph.D. thesis entitled “Runtime Party Switch in an Inter-Organizational Collaboration”

Supervisor(s): P.W.P.J. Grefen and R.M. Dijkman
Chair: prof.dr. I.E.J. Heynderickx

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During the execution of an inter-organizational business-to-business (B2B) collaboration, a collaborating party may drop out for technical reasons or for business reasons. In such a case, the leaving party must be replaced, at runtime, by a new party. Ideally, the new party can pick up where the old party left off.

Currently, algorithms exist that can help with the runtime selection of the new party in order to incorporate it in the collaboration. Also, several studies have investigated the theoretical foundations of dynamic business process changes within a single enterprise. However, very few attempts have been made which can help a new party in a collaboration to pick up where the old party left off. Designing such techniques constitutes a challenge due to each party’s autonomy and to privacy policies that emerge in the context of a collaboration.

This PhD study aims to address this challenge by providing an overview of the components, algorithms, operations and techniques that are necessary to enable a party in a collaboration to be replaced by another party at runtime. Accordingly, this study consists of the following three research activities.

Firstly, it presents a descriptive reference architecture for Business Process Management Systems (BPMS) that facilitates switching parties in inter-organizational collaborations. This reference architecture, called BPMS-RA, has been designed based on a systematic literature survey of existing BPMS architectures. The main purpose of the development of BPMS-RA is twofold: (i) it can be employed as an architectural template for developing a new BPMS by offering two distinct levels of aggregation for the components that comprise a BPMS architecture, and (ii) it enables the analysis and comparison of existing BPMS in terms of their functionalities.

Secondly, it introduces a strategy for adapting an inter-organizational collaboration when a global view on the collaboration exists. In this strategy we assume that it is possible to have a central party, called the global controller, that can observe all communication and be the intermediary between all collaborating parties when one party is replaced by another. In this case there is also a model that describes all communications, which is called the choreography model. This research contributes to the body of knowledge by proposing a set of algorithms, operations and techniques (such as rollback and compensation) that facilitate the party switch in the case where a global controller and a choreography model exist.

Finally, it describes a strategy for adapting an inter-organizational collaboration when a global view on the collaboration does not exist. In this strategy, we assume that there is no global controller in a collaboration and no choreography model of the collaboration. The main challenge in this case is to capture the choreography model by relating the past communications among the collaborating parties that belong to the same thread of collaboration. This challenge is also known as the correlation challenge. This study addresses this challenge by introducing a new process discovery algorithm, called the correlation miner, that facilitates discovery when events (i.e., messages) are not associated with a case identifier.

In order to demonstrate the feasibility of these studies, we have developed prototype tools that implement our solutions and we evaluated them in a practical setting. Additional experiments were performed on both synthetic and real-world process models in order to determine the extent to which our proposed solutions are applicable.


PhD defense Mohammad Rasouli: “Information Governance in Service-Oriented Business Networking”

cover pageOn Tuesday, October 25th @4PM Auditorium 4, Mohammad Rasouli will defend his Ph.D. thesis entitled  “Information governance in service-oriented business networking

Supervisor(s): P.W.P.J. Grefen en prof.dr. R.J. Kusters
Chair: G.P.J. Verbong

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Information Governance in Service-Oriented Business Networking

Competition in current business environments forces organizations to focus on their core competencies and outsource other activities. Organizations focusing on their core competencies collaborate with globally distributed business parties to provide products and services for customers. This highlights the importance of business networking for achieving competitive advantages. In this way, nowadays competition is between business networks (BNs) rather than between single organizations.

On the other hand, customers’ empowerment in globalized markets necessitates service orientation in BNs. Service orientation in BNs points out deep interactions with customers for value co-creation as well as dynamic and agile collaboration with suppliers to deliver mass-customized products and services. In this way, a service-oriented business network (SBN) is described as a collaborative network of independent parties within a market that co-create mass-customized packages of products and services in the form of integrated solutions.

Service orientation in BNs requires sensing of environmental changes (e.g. customer needs) and responding to these needs rapidly through agile orchestration of resources distributed among parties. Orchestration of distributed resources within a BN is realized by networked business processes. Service orientation in BNs highlights information-intensive networked business processes. The information-intensity implies dynamic evolution of networked business processes in order to respond to environmental requirements. The property of information-intensity is further increased by emerging paradigms like big data, cloud computing, and internet of things that enable to generate, store, access, and use globally distributed information. However, this situation results in emerging issues such as unsecured information access and low quality information products. These issues strongly threaten performance of BNs. So, they need to be recognized and countered by information governance (IG) mechanisms in an appropriate way. IG in the context of BNs can be characterized as a holistic approach to enable high quality and secure information exchanges among collaborating parties.

This dissertation concentrates on IG in SBNs. To do so, the dissertation is organized within the three main parts. The first part of the thesis characterizes SBNs within an integrated framework in the form of three-two dimensional matrices. The applicability and usefulness of the developed framework to characterize service orientation in real-life BNs is evaluated by a multiple-case study.

The second part of the dissertation concentrates on the identification of the IG issues resulting from service orientation in BNs. To do so, a systematic literature review is conducted that results in the identification of the 28 IG issues. These issues are categorized within information quality, information security, and metadata domains. The practical relevance of the theoretically identified IG issues is evaluated by a case study.

The third part of the dissertation describes synthesizing an architectural solution to deal with the identified IG issues. The designed architecture specifies components that support governing information assets that are exchanged to manage dynamic networked business processes in SBNs.




PhD defense Rob Vanwersch

Front page cover PhD thesis Rob VanwerschOn Monday 30 May 2016 4PM, Rob Vanwersch will defend his PhD thesis entitled “Rethinking care processes: Does anybody have an idea?” in Auditorium 4 at Eindhoven University of Technology.

Promoters: Paul Grefen and Hajo Reijers

Co-promoter: Irene Vanderfeesten

The summary of his PhD thesis, the propositions accompanying the dissertation, and the acknowledgements can be downloaded below:

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PhD defense Jan Claes

Cover_JanMore information can be found on:

In order to download the thesis, follow:





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Lately, the focus of organizations is changing fundamentally. Where they used to spend almost exclusively attention to results, in terms of goods, services, revenue and costs, they are now concerned about the efficiency of their business processes. Each step of the business processes needs to be known, controlled and optimized. This explains the huge effort that many organizations currently put into the mapping of their processes in so-called (business) process models.

Unfortunately, sometimes these models do not (completely) reflect the business reality or the reader of the model does not interpret the represented information as intended. Hence, whereas on the one hand we observe how organizations are attaching increasing importance to these models, on the other hand we notice how the quality of process models in companies often proves to be insufficient.

The doctoral research makes a significant contribution in this context. This work investigates in detail how people create process models and why and when this goes wrong. A better understanding of current process modeling practice will form the basis for the development of concrete guidelines that result in the construction of better process models in the future.  The first study investigated how we can represent the approach of different modelers in a cognitive effective way, in order to facilitate knowledge building. For this purpose the PPMChart was developed. It represents the different operations of a modeler in a modeling tool in such a way that patterns in their way of working can be detected easily. Through the collection of 704 unique modeling executions (a joint contribution of several authors in the research domain), and through the development of a concrete implementation of the visualization, it became possible to gather a great amount of insights about how different people work in different situations while modeling a concrete process.

The second study explored, based on the discovered modeling patterns of the first study, the potential relations between how process models were being constructed and which quality was delivered. To be precise, three modeling patterns from the previous study were investigated further in their relation with the understandability of the produced process model. By comparing the PPMCharts that show these patterns with corresponding process models, a connection was found in each case. It was noticed that when a process model was constructed in consecutive blocks (i.e., in a structured way), a better understandable process model was produced. A second relation stated that modelers who (frequently) moved (many) model elements during modeling usually created a less understandable model. The third connection was found between the amount of time spent at constructing the model and a declining understandability of the resulting model. These relations were established graphically on paper, but were also confirmed by a simple statistical analysis.

The third study selected one of the relations from the previous study, i.e., the relation between structured modeling and model quality, and investigated this relation in more detail. Again, the PPMChart was used, which has lead to the identification of different ways of structured process modeling. When a task is difficult, people will spontaneously split up this task in sub-tasks that are executed consecutively (instead of simultaneously). Structuring is the way in which the splitting of tasks is handled. It was found that when this happens consistently and according to certain logic, modeling became more effective and more efficient. Effective because a process model was created with less syntactic and semantic errors and efficient because it took less time and modeling operations. Still, we noticed that splitting up the modeling in sub-tasks in a structured way, did not always lead to a positive result. This can be explained by some people structuring the modeling in the wrong way. Our brain has cognitive preferences that cause certain ways of working not to fit. The study identified three important cognitive preferences: does one have a sequential or a global learning style, how context-dependent one is and how big one”s desire and need for structure is. The Structured Process Modeling Theory was developed, which captures these relations and which can form the basis for the development of an optimal individual approach to process modeling. In our opinion the theory has the potential to also be applicable in a broader context and to help solving various types of problems effectively and efficiently.

PhD defense of Rui de Almeida: Conditional Density Models Integrating Fuzzy and Probabilistic Representations of Uncertainty @June 26 Erasmus University Rotterdam

Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), Erasmus University Rotterdam – See More
On Thursday June 26 Rui de Almeida will defend his Ph.D. thesis entitled “Conditional Density Models Integrating Fuzzy and Probabilistic Representations of Uncertainty” @ Senate Hall, A-Building, Woudestein Campus 11.30-13.00 hrs.

Prom./coprom.: Uzay Kaymak / Prof.  João M. Sousa


Conditional density estimation is an important problem in a variety of areas such as system identification, machine learning, artificial intelligence, empirical economics, macroeconomic analysis, quantitative finance and risk management.

This work considers the general problem of conditional density estimation, i.e., estimating and predicting the density of a response variable as a function of covariates. The semi-parametric models proposed and developed in this work combine fuzzy and probabilistic representations of uncertainty, while making very few assumptions regarding the functional form of the response variable’s density or changes of the functional form across the space of covariates. These models possess sufficient generalization power to approximate a non-standard density and the ability to describe the underlying process using simple linguistic descriptors despite the complexity and possible non-linearity of this process.

These novel models are applied to real world quantitative finance and risk management problems by analyzing financial time-series data containing non-trivial statistical properties, such as fat tails, asymmetric distributions and changing variation over time.

Ph.D. Thesis: The Role of Contextual Factors in Process Harmonization by Heidi Romero

On Monday, April 28th, Heidi Romero will defend her Ph.D. thesis entitled  “The Role of Contextual Factors in Process Harmonization”.

Prom./coprom.: P.W.P.J. Grefen, prof.dr. A.J. van Weele & R.M. Dijkman.

At this moment of posting, the thesis text is not yet available from the TU/e library.
Click here for the abstract.

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