On compliance checking for clausal constraints in annotated process models

Jörg Hoffmann, Ingo Weber, Guido Governatori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Compliance management is important in several industry sectors where there is a high incidence of regulatory control. It must be ensured that business practices, as reflected in business processes, comply with the rules. Such compliance checks are challenging due to (1) the different life cycles of rules and processes, and (2) their disparate representations. (1) requires retrospective checking of process models. To address (2), we herein devise a framework where processes are annotated to capture the semantics of task execution, and compliance is checked against a set of constraints posing restrictions on the desirable process states. Each constraint is a clause, i.e., a disjunction of literals. If a process can reach a state that falsifies all literals of one of the constraints, then that constraint is violated in that state, and indicates non-compliance. Naively, such compliance can be checked by enumerating all reachable states. Since long waiting times are undesirable, it is important to develop efficient (low-order polynomial time) algorithms that (a) perform exact compliance checking for restricted cases, or (b) perform approximate compliance checking for more general cases. Herein, we observe that methods of both kinds can be defined as a natural extension of our earlier work on semantic business process validation. We devise one method of type (a), and we devise two methods of type (b); both are based on similar restrictions to the processes, where the restrictions made by methods (b) are a subset of those made by method (a). The approximate methods each guarantee either of soundness (finding only non-compliances) or completeness (finding all non-compliances). We describe how one can trace the state evolution back to the process activities which caused the (potential) non-compliance, and hence provide the user with an error diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-177
Number of pages23
JournalInformation Systems Frontiers
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Business process design
  • Compliance checking
  • Compliant process design
  • Formal process verification


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