Dynamic integrated modelling of information systems and business process simulation
Business processes and information technology are two areas that are very closely related to the sustained competitive advantage in organisations. However, investment in information technology often leads to disappointment, which may in part be due to the non-alignment of the information system domain with the business process domain. Simulation modelling is an established technique often used in business process change projects, as it allows a comparison of different possible scenarios without the expense of physically implementing the system. However business process simulation fails to effectively capture the information systems perspective in the model. This thesis contends that by combining information systems modelling techniques with business process simulation the model will be able to capture all the four perspectives (functional, behavioural, organisational and informational) of an organisation, and the design of the business processes and the information system will be better aligned. Initially, attempts were made to integrate business process simulation with computer network simulation in a simple two- or three-layered simulation model, but this gave rise to significant problems the most significant being the underlying assumptions of the original hypothesis. This led to a refined hypothesis in which the layered models were discarded along with the network domain. The revised hypothesis aimed to capture the informational changes that occur in the information system and therefore combines prototyping with business process simulation. This overcomes the unsafe assumptions of the initial hypothesis about whether the system is 'correct' and provides a method of validating the design of the information system within the context of the business processes. The integrated model allows concurrent design of the information system domain and the business process domain and therefore ensures that the domains are better aligned. The framework is tested on a case study and the results indicate that it is an effective tool in the combined design of business processes and information systems.