An Application of a Thesaurus Process Model to Human Resource Business Process Modeling

Open Access
Odewade, Taiwo Oiuwaseyi
Graduate Program:
Industrial Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
April 11, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Soundar Kumara, Thesis Advisor
  • Eli Christopher C Byrne, Thesis Advisor
  • Business Process Model
  • Business Process Modelling
Organizations are increasingly using Business Process Models (BPMs). However, these models have two major drawbacks. First, the BPMs, mostly are in a non-machine-readable format, which makes them inaccessible to machine learning and intelligent queries. Secondly, semantic heterogeneity, by which we mean the inconsistency in vocabulary and other language usage across organizational personnel, leads to inconsistency in interpretation of models. Past approaches to eliminate semantic heterogeneity include the enforcement an official “standardized” vocabulary and even defining entire modeling languages, but history has shown enterprise-wide vocabulary enforcement is expensive at best and often infeasible. ‘Semantic Business Process Modeling’ (SBPM) purports to resolve semantic heterogeneity without relying on language standardization, by instead relying on users’ a priori knowledge of the business processes to support correct, consistent interpretation of models. This strong assumption imposes severe limitations on the applicability of these models. This thesis demonstrates any business process can be modeled using a thesaurus that is machine-readable to support software applications and mitigates semantic heterogeneity by explicitly mapping it. With this approach, we posit that specialized technical skills will not be needed to interpret the process model, allowing organizations to implement the models minimal user training. The interactive query capability provided by the thesaurus structure, and supported by numerous commercial software packages for thesaurus maintenance and creation, eliminates or reduces the need for any assumptions on a priori user knowledge. The Thesaurus Business Process Model (TBPM) we propose in this work is compliant with the ISO 9001(Quality Management Systems) standard, which is used as a benchmark in most organizations in improving the management of information flow. Thesauri have been written about in context of linguistic and database design search engines, where semantic heterogeneity is a natural phenomenon, but never in the process modeling literature, which also requires mitigation of semantic heterogeneity. To validate the claims, this thesis includes TBPM of the United States Marine Corps’ (USMC) human resource development process (HRDP). The USMC HRDP model is interactive to improve collaboration among specialized sub units. In addition, it also provides necessary information to fully integrate the HRDP management with agencies external to the management process. This thesis concludes with ideas for going beyond resolution of semantic heterogeneity to resolution of heterogeneity of model structure across all types of BPMs.