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


Citation:
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 (Forthcoming).

Abstract:
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.