SoftProc - Development of Methods for Retrograde Process Analysis from a Running Application
Software development and modernization fail, are delayed and devour vast sums of money. One of the main reasons for this is poor controllability, which is usually due to a lack of documentation for the implemented software. Only those who understand the respective software well can work with it in a meaningful way. Well-documented software saves enormous costs, avoids errors and allows for an easy start of new colleagues or development partners. In practice, however, software applications or their underlying requirements are usually developed under time pressure, and savings are made on documentation. As soon as the software applications have to be adapted, extended or modernized, this sparse documentation and lack of knowledge of the work processes supported by the software does not help, but rather creates further irritations. As a consequence, the costs and times for maintaining the software explode.
In the SoftProc project, the Institute for Databases and Information Systems (DBIS) at the University of Ulm and PITSS GmbH are developing an innovative approach that systematically analyzes a software application with everything that makes it tick, from the program code to the database schema to the processes it supports, and assembles them into a picture that everyone can understand - a kind of real-time documentation fed with the latest program statuses and with productive data from running applications. Corresponding knowledge enables decisions and makes implementations simple and reliable.
Amongst others, algorithms and techniques are developed that observe users during the execution of a process with the software, and write this information into an event stream or event log on a fine-grained level. With the resulting online process analysis, dedicated processes are retrogradely determined from a running application and the use of the application is documented across different users, locations or points in time. The collected event data forms the basis for a variety of use cases, such as
- precise, data-based process documentation with variable degree of abstraction from developer to decision maker,
- analytical process mining (e.g. conformance of the implemented process with process manual, compliance rules, KPIs for process performance),
- process optimization with downstream, guided code optimization by merging event stream and source code,
- process-oriented effort estimation for software modernization projects,
- process-based approach to the implementation of software modernization projects, and
- significant cost savings through process-driven development with high adaptability to digital challenges of enterprises.
The aim is to create different recording variants for productive systems that can be controlled via configuration tables. Process information is thus generated automatically from existing software infrastructures, with user data protection guaranteed by technical and organizational measures.
SoftProc is an example of the promotion of innovative SMEs. With the initiative "KMU-innovativ", the BMBF has established a fast lane for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In this program, SMEs can submit their project ideas in the field of information and communication technologies and are supported by simplified funding and accelerated approval procedures.