A Field Report about Semantic-Based Approaches from the EU-Project “FIT”
Andrea Leutgeb
, Wilfrid Utz
, Robert Woitsch
and Hans-Georg Fill
BOC Asset Management, Baeckerstraße 5, 1010 Vienna, Austria
University of Vienna, Department of Knowledge and Business Engineering
Bruennerstraße 72, 1210 Vienna, Austria
Keywords: Business Process Management, Business Rules, E-Government, Ontologies, Public Administration.
Abstract: For increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of public administration as well as improving the usability
and adaptability of systems state-of-the-art semantic technologies can be combined with existing business
process management (BPM) approaches in e-government. This position paper shows ontology-based
approaches as implemented within the EU-project FIT. In FIT the customer approved business process
modelling language ADOeGov
has been enriched with business rules in order to provide the necessary
transparency, flexibility and efficiency.
This paper focuses on the sector of public
administration and e-government and presents two
advanced prototypes which combine semantic
technologies and business process management
The concepts discussed in the following
represent the current development status of the IST
project FIT
a project co-funded by the European
Commission under the “Information Society
Technologies” Sixth Framework Programme (2002-
2006). A short introduction to the project will be
given in the following:
The overall goal of FIT is defined to “develop,
test and validate a self-adaptive e-government
framework based on semantic technologies that will
ensure that the quality of public services is
proactively and continually fit to the changing
preferences and increasing expectations of e-
citizens” (Stojanovic N. et al, 2006: 1). Through
semantic technologies the actual service delivery is
adapted during run-time to the specific needs
thereby increasing service quality continuously.
FIT – “Fostering self-adaptive e-government service
improvement using semantic technologies”. Accessible:, [22 Jan 07]
Historically, BOC
developed a comprehensive
BPM method for public administration called
(Palkovits, S. and Karagiannis, D.,
2003), (Palkovits, S. and Wimmer, M., 2003),
(Palkovits, S. et al, 2004) by extending the general
BPM approach implemented in ADONIS
(Karagiannis, D. and Kühn, H., 2002), (Junginger, S.
et al, 2000) to the specifics of e-government. Within
the above mentioned EU-project, BOC as a project
partner has extended the classical BPM approach
towards agile BPM using business rules. Thereby
the flexibility of end-users of BPM can be increased
to meet current e-government requirements.
This paper is organized as follows: Section 2
gives a brief overview of the current challenges in
the area of BPM in e-government and gives an
introduction to the ADOeGov
modelling method.
Section 3 discusses the theoretical background of the
ontology-based approach developed within the
project, presents the actual implementation and
application as a prototype and proof-of-concept. The
conclusions will give an outlook on further
developments within the project.
BOC Homepage. Accessibile:, [22 Jan
Leutgeb A., Utz W., Woitsch R. and Fill H. (2007).
ADAPTIVE PROCESSES IN E-GOVERNMENT - A Field Report about Semantic-Based Approaches from the EU-Project “FIT”.
In Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems - ISAS, pages 264-269
DOI: 10.5220/0002410502640269
In e-government applications and scenarios a
number of actors (e.g. authorities, citizens, clerks),
multi-organisational business processes and
heterogeneous technologies have to be integrated
(Kühn, H., 2001), (Palkovits, S. and Wimmer, M.,
2003). Therefore they are recognized as being rather
complex and difficult to manage. Following this fact
and due to the currently running modernisation
initiatives (e.g. i2010
) of public administration,
BPM and reorganization in general are seen as key
criteria to successfully implement e-government
summarized under the term “New Public
Management” (Lane, J., 2000).
Business process modelling and reorganization
have many advantages for e-government as has been
pointed out by various authors: The purposes of
processes models range from a knowledge
management perspective to facilitate human
understanding, communication, organisational
learning and transfer of know-how (Woitsch, R. and
Karagiannis, D., 2005) to the management
perspective for steering and supporting process
improvement and implementing process monitoring
and controlling. Through the modelling approach,
the derivation of variants and the comparison and
testing of alternatives in a save environment become
feasible before implementation. This may then
directly lead to savings in time and money in the
long run (Brücher, H., 2001).
The ADOeGov
toolkit aims at providing a
comprehensive BPM solution that integrates
different e-government specific aspects. This
includes aspects of service orientation through a top-
down based life-event approach, process monitoring
through the integration of key performance
indicators into the process flow as well as a
monitoring cockpit and aspects of security
modelling on a technical level in order to provide the
means for effective implementation of e-
Although BPM leads to the aforementioned
benefits, still the current solutions lack the necessary
transparency, flexibility and efficiency to be
adaptive to different scenarios. This stems mainly
from the fact that business processes in today’s
i2010 – A European Information Society for growth and
employment, Accessible:, [22
Jan 07]
administrations are highly complex, involve many
different participants and spawn multiple
information systems (Burmeister, B. et al, 2006).
Another drawback of the systems is the high
complexity to enable effective process management
and responsibility leading to the fact, that the
domain expert needs to become a process expert to
cope with the highly complex scenarios.
The combination of semantic technologies and
BPM aims to overcome these drawbacks. The
integration of the concept of business rules into
traditional business process views marks a feasible
solution in this regard. This approach allows agile
modelling and execution of business processes,
leading to a flexible and efficient way in the usage
of business processes. To be able to formulate
business rules it also becomes necessary to define a
common vocabulary as a semantic reference, thereby
leading to increased transparency in BPM.
The approach developed within the project is
ontology-based and results in the definition of
transparent, flexible and efficient processes in e-
government. Within the FIT project the business
rules approach was chosen as it has grown in
importance and popularity in the last few years for
agile modelling approaches. According to the
Business Rules Group (Business Rules Group, 2000)
“a business rule is a statement that defines and
constraints some business. It is intended to assert
business structure or to control or influence the
behaviour of the business“. It is expressed using a
simple, unambiguous language that is accessible to
all interested parties: Business owner, business
analyst, technical architect etc. (Morgan, T., 2002).
The main goal of the FIT project at this stage
was to translate these theoretical requirement
defined during various work packages into an
effective and easy-to-use modelling method. It
should be integrated as a module with the
method providing means to model
business rules on different abstraction layers (from
business/design view to technical/execution layers)
and the actual integration within the BPM approach.
The management of business rules is regarded as
a closely related although separate knowledge
domain. Modelling business rules as separate entities
offers various advantages, according to (Schacher,
ADAPTIVE PROCESSES IN E-GOVERNMENT - A Field Report about Semantic-Based Approaches from the EU-Project
M. and Grässle, P., 2006), (Rosenberg, F. and
Dustdar, S., 2005) and (von Halle, B., 2001) the
major benefits are: Transparency because of a
common business vocabulary that defines all terms
clearly and consistently, flexibility because business
rules can be changed in an easy and controlled way
and efficiency as some business rules can be
executed automatically.
The following subsections will describe the
theoretical frame and the prototypical
implementation within ADOeGov
. The concluding
paragraphs of this chapter provide examples of the
actual application scenarios within the projects by
giving a brief overview on the models created and
designed as pilots.
3.1 The Business Rules Modelling
Procedure: A Framework
Within the course of the FIT project the project
partner Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz developed
a theoretical framework defining the different steps
necessary to get from the first level of “verbal” rule
definition to an executable level. Figure 1 depicts
these steps accordingly and provides the standards
definition and scientific research in this domain.
Process Model
Step 1
L1 L1
Rule Level I
Rule Level II
Rule Level III
Step 2
Rule Level III
Step 3
L3 L3
BPEL Java JavaScript
Figure 1: The Business Rules Framework.
The developed framework is defined as follows:
The input for the semi-formal representation of
business rules are document sources (e.g. laws,
regulations etc.), existing process models or implicit
conceptions of domain experts, as rules are often
stored in the head of the people. Other sources could
be database analyses or actual workflows in the form
of programme code. Terms, facts and rules are then
defined, grouped to rulesets and assigned to the
corresponding activities, decisions or processes. To
model these concepts two model types have been
created: The “Business process model” and the
“Rule level I model”.
To simulate and analyse the different paths of the
processes, business rules have to be transformed into
the second level formalism. This is again a semi-
formal representation but makes the rules executable
by a process stepper algorithm for easing the rule
introspection and dependencies by the user.
The second step of the business rules framework
transforms the models into an open accessible
format using OWL-S, OWL and SWRL. Process
models are represented in OWL-S. Terms and facts
are transformed into OWL, whereas business rules
are transformed into SWRL. This formal
representation of business rules makes them
interchangeable with third parties.
The last step is the machine executable
representation of processes and business rules. The
formal and thus interchangeable models created in
step 2 of the framework will be automatically
migrated into machine executable format. OWL-S
must be transformed into BPEL to execute the
workflow, whereas business rules can be exported
e.g. into Java or JavaScript.
3.2 The Business Rule Modelling
Language: A Realisation Approach
The technical frame concerning business rules as
modelling concepts has been implemented using the
concepts of the meta-modelling platform ADONIS
(Karagiannis, D. and Kühn, H., 2002). This gives the
method engineer the necessary flexibility and
efficiency in the customisation of the application
accordingly. Details on the meta-modelling
approach and customisation can be found in
(Karagiannis, D. and Bajnai, J., 2004), (Junginger,
S., 2000), (Nemetz, M., 2006), (Fill, H., 2004).
Figure 2 shows an excerpt of the business rules
meta-model, showing all relevant model types and
the relations between them. The rectangles represent
the model types and the arrows the associations
between them. The overall model stack of
including all usage scenarios can be
found in (Palkovits, S. and Wimmer, M., 2003) and
(Palkovits, S. et al, 2004).
As the figure shows business rules are modelled
on three different levels, from the semi-formal to the
formal and thus interchangeable representation using
ICEIS 2007 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
standards like OWL and SWRL. Business rules are
grouped to rule sets. If a certain rule set is assigned
only rules belonging to this rule set will be executed
at runtime. Business rules are assigned to the
business process model or to the workflow model
corresponding to the BPEL standard on a technical
Business process model
OWL model
Business process model
Rule Level I - Business View
SWRL model
Rule Level III - Interchange
Rule Level II - Transition
Workflow model (BPEL)
Referenced ruleset
Referenced ruleset
Referenced ruleset
Referenced ontology concept
Referenced ruleset
Referneced process model
Referenced workflow
Referenced SWRL model
Figure 2: The Business Rules Meta-Model (Excerpt).
The Rule Level I – Business View is a semi-
formal representation of business rules according to
(von Halle, B., 2001). The added value of this model
type is that it can be modelled and understood by
business people as well as by IT people as it is
clearly structured and offers as well a verbal
definition of the rules. The three major concepts,
which can be modelled, are terms, facts and rules.
Terms and facts represent the semantics behind the
rules. Rules are declarative statements that apply
logic or computation to information values. Through
the execution of rules new information can be
discovered or decisions about actions can be made.
Rules can be classified into five groups: Constraints,
guidelines, action-enabling rules, computations and
The Rule Level II – Transition View is also a
semi-formal representation of business rules.
Business rules defined on this level can be used for
simulation, variant and alternative testing and
represent one step before implementing the rules
within execution systems. It is particularly important
for allowing an introspection of the dynamic nature
of the rules which cannot be accomplished with
Level I models.
The Rule Level III is oriented towards a fully
machine interpretable representation. To define rules
in a formal way two further model types were
necessary. The standards agreed upon by the project
partners were SWRL and OWL. Concepts for
automatically generating a first draft of an ontology
and using this information within the SWRL models
are currently discussed within the project.
3.3 Application Scenario
The business rules approach implemented within the
FIT project is applied within e-government and
public administration within the following scenarios:
Variable process execution to determine
activities and processes to be executed during
process runtime,
intelligent resource allocation at run time to
select employees based on special skills, to
present information depending on user
categories or to select a particular web-service
Intelligent branching and decision making at
runtime to control the process flow
For the FIT project a workbench as an
organisational frame has been configured and set
live providing tools and functionality for
collaborative process management using a strict
service-oriented approach and online capabilities.
The functionalities offered are web-modelling for
creation, update and editing of models, the web-
documentation for model review and commenting,
interfaces for importing and exporting information
within the platform to and from highly specialized
tools like ontology editors, workflow designers and
rule editors. The workbench is regarded as a
common knowledge space throughout the project
where all model based information can be retrieved
and stored.
ADAPTIVE PROCESSES IN E-GOVERNMENT - A Field Report about Semantic-Based Approaches from the EU-Project
Figure 3 shows how OWL classes, instances and
properties can be used to define SWRL rules. This
rule evaluates whether an application for building
permission has to be approved by the historical
conservation agency. The antecedent and the
consequent of this rule both consist of one atom with
references to object properties and individuals of the
OWL notation.
The results presented in this position paper provide
an overview on the current stage of development and
research within the area of agile process
management from the perspective of the e-
government project FIT. The presented approach
represents a step in the direction making
administrative procedures transparent, flexible and
efficient by using semantic technologies and
Currently the applicability of the introduced
business rule methodology is evaluated by selected
scenarios of the project partners as well as the
integration potential into other domains and
scenarios is investigated.
We thank our partners Fachhochschule
Nordwestschweiz (FHNW) from Switzerland as well
as City of Voecklabruck (STADT VB) for their
fruitful input and discussion during the prototypical
implementation of the modelling prototype.
We would like to express special thanks to Ms.
Feldkamp (FHNW), Ms. Thönssen (FHNW), Prof.
Dr. Hinkelmann (FHNW) and Dr. Rapp (STADT
VB) for their input and discussion during various
online and offline meetings as well as Prof. Dr.
Karagiannis from the University of Vienna for
mentoring the development business rule approach.
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approveApplication (Application XY, Historical conservation agency)
Instance of
Historic al
Instance of
Instance of
Instance of
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ICEIS 2007 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
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