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Tuesday, 10 January 2012 08:24

Business processes estimation with the use of activity diagrams method

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During design and analytical works, the necessity to calculate the parameters of a business process or to estimate the complexity of the built software arises repeatedly. Most formal methods often require quite difficult calculations. On the other hand, during analytical or design works an activity diagram is usually created, which presents, in a natural way, the components of the business process or the elements of a use case scenario. In this article, I will attempt to present how to calculate selected parameters of the business process using activity diagrams modeled in Enterprise Architect and additional tool (Tormigo).

The fundamental reason why the described feature is present in Tormigo (the module is called Tormigo Analytics) is the need for knowledge about the parameters of a given business process. When describing the business process using the activity diagram, we wanted to know how much the service delivery will cost and how long it will take. In case of unforked business processes it is easy to calculate it, whilst in case of more complex diagrams it was tedious and prone to errors made by the person calculating these parameters.


Fig. 1: Underlying business process (AS-IS)


TORMIGO’s capacity in the scope of calculating business process parameters pre-defined by an analyst will be presented on an example of a pizza ordering process (Fig. 1).

In this case, the use of TORMIGO Analytics will help in answering the question of how the change of the business process will affect the order processing time. The change relates to the requirement that the employees of the customer service department should propose additional pizza toppings. The change in the ordering process has been marked red in the diagram below (Fig. 2)


Fig. 2: Business process after changes (AS-WILL)


After creation of diagrams, the next step is to describe the parameters based on Tagged Values. These parameters may be defined in Tormigo in Analysis → Definition of TAP Tag (Fig. 3)



Fig. 3: Defining analysis parameters (TAP)


Next, clicking the Add button allows one to add a parameter. In our example it will be the maximum time (TIME_MAX). Tormigo added an appropriate column automatically (Fig. 4).



Fig. 4: Activities with the column allowing one to enter the value of the parameter


Using filters that can be found to the right (Fig. 5) allows one to find more quickly the activities that we want to describe


Fig. 5: Filtering the activities


It is important that the values of the parameters may be described in Tormigo not only in the place indicated above, but also by selecting from menu Analysis → Activities, Tagged Values tab (Fig. 6)


Fig. 6: Alternative method for entering parameters in Tormigo


or in Enterprise Architect in the properties of the activity in Tagged Values tab (Fig. 7)


Fig. 7: Entering values of TAP parameters in Enterprise Architect


After defining the parameters, it is time to see the analysis results. In order to prepare the report, one should select from the Analysis menu -> Analysis of TAP for activity diagrams. Next, from the drop-down list one should select the diagram that will be analyzed and confirm the selection with the Select button (Fig. 8 )


Fig. 8: Preparing the analytical report in Tormigo


In Summary tab one can view the list of activities that compose the process. Report description tab allows one to define additional parameters such as the title of the report, data of the person preparing the report, date of preparing it and a version (default date format is YYYYMMDD). By clicking Generate report button, the report preview is generated. Sample reports are defined in Figures 9 and 10.

Those reports indicate the time expressed in seconds, but this type of variable value serves only as an example. It may be currency, number of parts, mass or any other unit of measurement as well.

It is time to mention limitations: Activities marked with an asterisk mean looped actions. When Tormigo Analytics finds the occurrence of a loop, it will repeat it only once.

Tormigo Analytics is limited by its functionality to activity diagrams, since it does not analyze the types of gates but only traces the sequence of the activity determined by connections.

Summing up, Tormigo Analytics is a very good tool for estimating the changes resulting from the modification of the business process. Calculation of the sum of values of particular parameters is one of the simplest forms of estimation. In many cases, this method may prove to be sufficient to demonstrate gains or losses resulting from the implementation of modeled changes.


Fig. 9: Report created on the basis of AS-IS diagram



Fig. 10: Report created on the basis of AS-WILL diagram


Feel free to download TORMIGO.

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Michael Wolski

Michael Wolski (PhD. in computer science) has extensive knowledge in the areas related to software development processes, including the Rational Unified Process methodology and Agile methodologies. In addition, he is characterized by high, practical proficiency in CASE tools, which support IT systems’ design and modeling.

He is the author of several trainings and publications in the field of software engineering.  

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