5.8. Summary

Catalysis Conversation Analysis offers a very definite, graphically simple, theoretically based perspective on the question of what a business process is. The theory is rooted in Semiotics, and especially in the work of Winograd and Flores (1986). A business is thus a network of goal-oriented commitments among agents that participate in these commitments. Each of these commitments is expressed as a contract between these agents - either explicitly stated or implicitly understood.

To satisfy a goal-oriented commitment or contract, some work must always be done - unless the goal is already achieved in the start state! The contract defines the state of the world that must be achieved on completion of the work task.

An agent is any entity in the world that can communicate. Agents are autonomous, flexible and social in nature and, to some extent, intelligent. Agents can be internal or external to the business. Agents - like actors in the use case theory - are to be thought of as adopting a rôle.

A business process is a network of commitments between agents represented by conversations and contracts. Conversations have a fixed, six-phase structure: recognize trigger, set goal, propose, negotiate, perform task, check and handover result. The symbol for a conversation is an ellipse, as for a use case, which is a special case of a conversation or collaboration.

Conversations are described by scripts which are stereotypes of behaviour.

There can be two kinds of exception to ...

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