The project aims to explore the potential of open source business process management solutions as viable approach for the support of common administrative processes in HE.

Course Validation Arranger


Business process modelling (BPM) has considerable scope for understanding core domain level functions in higher education. The COVARM project explored process modelling in depth and implemented two scenarios embedded within the course validation process using service oriented architecture technology. Services were specified using WSDL/SOAP technology, implemented in JAVA and then choreographed using BPEL and related technologies. Results from the project indicated that many of these technologies are not sufficiently robust, nor is the integration between technologies seamless, suggesting that there may be alternate approaches to business process modelling and support that should be explored.

One important set of alternate technologies that are gaining credibility is the use of the OMG standard – Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) and software tools that manage the specification, creation and management of business processes – the so called BPM toolsets.

This project will review the two scenarios described in the COVARM project (“Prepare Programme Proposal” and “Run Validation Event”) from a process specification, implemented services perspective. These scenarios will be encoded in BPMN using a selected BPM toolset. The project will identify and justify the selection of an appropriate toolset and explore the “just enough” notation requirements for business process modelling in the HE Sector. Draft workshop material for business process modelling will be produced and delivered to the JISC community.

Aims and objectives

The project aims to explore the potential of open source business process management solutions as viable approach for the support of common administrative processes in HE.

The project aims will be supported by the following main objectives:

  • Demonstration implementation of the two workflows produced as part of the COVARM reference model. The scenarios will be implemented using a selected BPM toolset such as Intalio.
  • Implementations of additional services to support the scenarios. The project will explore the wrapping of a ‘room resource allocation system’ as a service for consumption by the BPM process.
  • Contribution to the e-Framework – a proposal on how the e-Framework can be adapted to explicitly manage process models will be submitted to e-Framework architects for review and discussion.
  • Workshop Collateral on Process and Workflow modelling using BPMN and delivery of one workshop to the JISC e-Research and Repositories community
  • Evaluation of organizational and technical issues arising during the development of the two scenarios using BPMN in a BPM toolset;
  • Recommendations to JISC on tool selection; methodology requirements (subset of notations and semantics for BPMN  for example) and wider implications.

Project methodology

The project methodology is largely based on a variation of the Rational Unified Process. The Inception phase will review BPMN toolsets and develop criteria for selecting one to use on the project. A selected toolset will then be commissioned and used for the rest of the project. The Implementation phase will utilize agile development techniques to implement the two Scenarios as two separate iterations. Any software services developed will be designed using model based techniques. Each iteration will deliver a Business Process Model, accompanying software and their UML models. The Results and Evaluation phase will report on the prototype implementations.

The project will utilize model driven architectural principles and so will use a number of different types of application development toolsets such as IBM Rational XDE, IBM Rational Software Architect and a selected BPM platform.

Anticipated impact

This project is important because it will provide important empirical evidence of the use the BPMN notation and associated toolsets in the context of higher education. By providing experimental data of the use of BPMN on a core business process, HEIs will understand the technical limitations and advantages of using such technology.  This project will provide further substantive experience of applying the JISC e-Framework strategy for understanding new domains and determining service specifications and requirements between domains. The process of interacting with the e-Framework will provide strong evidence on the usability and applicability of the e-Framework. This consideration of e-Framework within workplace environments is of interest to JISC members across the educational spectrum. The e-Framework is expected to have a significant impact of HEI IT strategy – our contribution will enable HEIs evaluate the benefits of the e-Framework from the perspective of the HEI community.

Lead institution

Project partners

Project Staff

Project manager
  • Dr Balbir S. Barn,  Computing Subject Group, Thames Valley University,Wellington St, Slough, SL1 1YG, +44 1753 697699,
Project team

Documents & Multimedia