Decentralized Process Modeling and Instance Tracking

Research Paper at ECIS 2018

With this approach, the planning and the execution of business processes can be conducted in a decentralized fashion, using process models secured by a public blockchain. In a Business-to-Business setting, trust-free transactions regarding the planned processes and their execution can be made among decentralized process participants acting as peers in a peer-to-peer network. The approach suggests to use the blockchain only for trust-related requirements, i.e. to provide integrity of the models and to reach an agreement regarding the processes. Other requirements, such as the management and storage of models, are realized off-chain by a Distributed Version Control System (DVCS). Each commit to the DVCS is linked to the blockchain in order to enable a trust-free collaboration among participants.

The approach is implemented for demonstration purposes using Git as a DVCS and the Ethereum blockchain with a smart contract for integrity checking and for conducting agreement procedures. Agreement procedures follow the two-phase-commit protocol, i.e. a unanimous agreement among all participants is required in order to commit a new version. This mechanism is implemented in the smart contract and the software prototype.

Slides of the talk given at ECIS 2018
Research Paper
Software prototype on GitHub

Härer, Felix (2018): Decentralized Process Modeling and Instance Tracking Secured By a Blockchain. In: Proceedings of the 26th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS). Portsmouth, UK, June 23-28, 2018.

For supporting the conceptualization and the management of enterprise models in a decentralized manner, this paper introduces an approach based on model versioning and blockchain technologies. The main contribution is twofold, consisting of a., the creation of models for inter-organizational business processes in a decentralized environment, and b., means for tracking process instances using meta-data at run time. Models for business processes, workflows, and instance states are collaboratively created as part of a decentralized architecture. Based on this approach, a hierarchical versioning and modeling approach is employed in order to create and manage public and private models in a transactional fashion. For forming relationships among decentralized participants, semi-formal models linked to a blockchain are suggested. The approach is evaluated with a supply chain use case and demonstrated in an implemented modeling tool.