The patent's assignee for patent number 8650063 is
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "This invention relates to a program, method and apparatus for modeling workflows each representing a flow of work, and more particularly to a program, method, and apparatus for automatically modeling workflows based on the operational state of computer systems.
"Recent years, as more data is processed by using computers, more business activities require computer systems. For example, an enterprise that sells commodities to customers uses computer systems for management of customer information, inventory management, order management, etc. As flows of work (hereinafter, referred to as workflows) using computer systems are complicated, workflow models are configured to clearly show workflows. The workflow models are ones that abstractly describe workflows for easy understanding, so that business managers and system administrators can intuitively confirm the workflows. In many cases, such workflow models are configured as part of design information when a computer system is to be installed.
"By the way, workflow models configured when a computer system is installed need to be re-configured later where appropriate because workflows vary with time in many cases. Therefore, a system administrator needs to grasp the current workflows in order to determine whether the computer system is suitable for the current business activities. In addition, a business manager needs to grasp the current workflows in order to review the business activities or consider the reconstruction of the computer system. However, workflow modeling requires a lot of efforts. In general, the workflows are modeled by the system administer asking workers about their work activities by means of questionnaire or discussions. Therefore, it may be impossible to model workflows in a short time.
"Recent years, attentions are paid to a technique of automatically modeling workflows by analyzing the actual operational state of computer systems. One of such techniques is that information such as the updated contents of data and the operational inputs of workers is acquired and analyzed to detect an order relation among a series of processes in computer systems, and then workflow models are configured (for example, refer to W. M. P van der Aalst and five more, 'Workflow Mining: A Survey of Issues and Approaches', [online], [searched on
"However, the technique taught in the document 'Workflow Mining: A Survey of Issues and Approaches' has a drawback that this technique is presented for providing typical workflows that frequently occur and does not deal with exceptional workflows that occur less frequently.
"More specifically, this technique eliminates flows that occur less frequently, as noise from flows each connecting two successive processes. This prevents configured workflow models from becoming too complicated and user-unfriendly.
"However, such exceptional workflows may be useful information for reviewing business activities and considering the reconstruction of computer systems. For example, if there is a workflow which occurs less frequently but is undesirable for operating the computer systems, the computer systems may need to be re-designed so that this workflow does not occur. This means that such exceptional workflows need to be grasped where appropriate."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "This invention is made in view of the foregoing and intends to provide a program, method, and apparatus for automatically modeling workflows based on update history information of representative databases which is information on the operational state of computer systems, and separately showing typical workflows and exceptional workflows.
"To achieve the object, there is provided a computer-readable medium having stored thereon a workflow modeling program for automatically modeling a workflow representing a flow of work based on an operational state of computer systems. This workflow modeling program causes a computer to perform as: an update history information storage unit storing process identification information uniquely identifying a data update process, a data set name of a data set updated in the data update processes, and an updated time of the data set in association with each other, the data update process including update of a plurality of data sets; a workflow extractor for consulting the update history information storage unit to generate flow information in which data set names of the plurality of data sets updated in the data update process are arranged in chronological order of updated time, oldest first, for every data update process, and counting a number of appearances of flow information of same in all of the generated flow information; a workflow classification unit for arranging workflows represented by the flow information generated by the workflow extractor in decreasing order of the number of appearances, sequentially selecting the workflows in decreasing order of the number of appearances until an accumulated number of appearances reaches a preset threshold, and classifying the selected workflows as typical workflows and unselected workflows as exceptional workflows; and a workflow model display unit for displaying a typical workflow diagram with each of the data set names as a node based on information on all of the typical workflows determined by the workflow classification unit, and in response to user input, displaying an exceptional workflow diagram with each of the data set names as a node based on information on the exceptional workflows determined by the workflow classification unit and the information on all of the typical workflows.
"The above and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate preferred embodiments of the present invention by way of example."
For additional information on this patent, see: Yano, Keisuke;
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