Research project on process modeling receives DKK 2.3 million grant

Tijs Slaats, a postdoctoral researcher at ITU, has received a major grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research for a project on how IT systems can become better at handling complex processes.

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In practically any type of organization, from car factories to hospitals, IT systems are indispensable tools for managing processes. The systems are equipped with mathematical process models that can foresee and analyze processes, but traditionally, these models are designed for predictable, linear processes. They are, in other words, better suited for car assembly lines than for treatment of cancer patients.

At the IT University of Copenhagen, postdoctoral fellow Tijs Slaats is working on using hybrid models to bridge the gap between traditional, step-by-step process models and newer, so-called declarative models, in an attempt to make IT systems more flexible. He has just received a DKK 2.3 million-grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research for the project.

- What we are doing differently is to see processes as a set of rules that you must follow. The idea is that we will have greater flexibility because we eliminate assumptions about how problems are solved. However, it can be difficult for users to adapt to this new approach since it is so fundamentally different from the traditional way of thinking about processes. In the long run, we hope that our research on hybrid models can benefit all organizations that use process models, says Tijs Slaats.

Interest from industry

In his research project, Tijs Slaats is examining how IT systems can become more flexible.
A number of businesses have already shown an interest in the prospect of more flexible process models. In his project, Tijs Slaats will collaborate closely with consultants and developers from Exformatics on implementing hybrid models in practice.

- Companies have invested many resources in the old flow-based processes and cannot just switch abruptly to an entirely new way of doing things, so they are very interested in combining the old models with a new approach, he says.

Tijs Slaats started researching hybrid models while he was finishing his PhD. The grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research will allow him to start a three-year research project on Hybrid Business Process Management Technologies and travel abroad to cooperate closely with a number of renowned international researchers in his field.