software engineering-Towards Green Business Process Management



There is a global consensus on the need to reduce our collective carbon footprint. While much research attention has focused on developing alternative energy sources, automotive technologies or waste disposal techniques, we often ignore the fact that the ability to optimize (existing) operations to reduce their emissions impact is fundamental to this exercise. We believe that by transforming the problem into the domain of Business Process Management (BPM) we can leverage the rich expertise in this field to address issues associated with identifying areas for improvement, understanding the implication and performing carbon footprint minimization. We will use the term “Green BPM” to describe a novel class of technologies that leverage and extend existing BPM technology to enable process design, analysis, execution and monitoring in a manner informed by the carbon footprint of process designs and instances. This article describes the first steps in the development of this class of technologies.

There is a global consensus on the need to reduce our collective carbon footprint. Due to external pressures such as legislative requirements as well as an increase awareness of the general public (choosing products from organizations with environmentally sustainable profile), organizations are forced to capture details about, understand and minimize their carbon footprint. We argue that by transforming the problem into the domain of Business Process Management (BPM) we can leverage the rich expertise in this field to address issues associated with identifying areas for improvement, understanding the implication and performing carbon footprint minimization. Transforming a problem into a more researched domain is a powerful principle often applied in mathematics and science. BPM is known for its focus on the understanding and improvement/optimization of an enterprise’s business processes. Process modeling technology has applications beyond what we would traditionally describe as business processes. We can also model and improve manufacturing and other “physical” processes. To leverage the BPM technology we need to inform the business process design with its associated emission impact. This article shows how business process designs can be informed by capturing and utilizing the relationship between resources and activities and how this paves the way for future green business process optimization. The Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is a mature process modeling notation finding broad acceptance in industry . Business processes are represented in BPMN using flows (activities, events and decisions), positioned in lanes and linked by connectors (control flow links and message links). The BPMN notation captures the functional aspects of an enterprise. In general, business process modeling notations lack in the representation of qualitative attributes such as the impact of carbon emission. Qualitative attributes are also referred to as non-functional requirements (NFRs) in the requirements engineering literature and capture the qualitative aspects of a system. Various studies in the requirements engineering literature point out the importance of identifying qualitative attributes in addition to the functional aspects of a system. This trend has also found attention in the business process modeling literature . A qualitative attribute that is receiving great interest is the notion of an environmental performance indicator. A current environmental performance indicator that is widely accepted and used is the measure of carbon dioxide equivalent emission. We note that environmental performance is also influenced by other factors like amount of waste generated, or the amount of water consumed. CO2-e has been identified to play a key role in global warming and received great attention by international and national , environmental frameworks. We will use CO2-e as a key indicator for environmental performance in this article, but note that other factors can be incorporated as well

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