Investigating the Effects of Modularization in Business Process Models on the Cognitive Complexity of Humans

Universität Ulm

MA Abschlussvortrag, Julia Baß, Ort: O27/545, Datum: 30.01.2019, Zeit: 11:30 Uhr

Process models enable a better understanding of processes in enterprises as the processes are visualized step by step. This is due to the fact that process models provide precise knowledge with respect to the process through sequential linking of activities. Understanding of the process model is essential for both modelers and readers of a process. The complexity of process models has a direct effect on how comprehensible they are. Modularization is an approach for reducing the complexity. It can be applied in three different ways. Depending on the intended purpose, the design varies. Furthermore, the various modularization approaches for business process models can have implications on the cognitive complexity for humans as individuals.
This thesis is based on psychological and neuroscientific cognitive concepts to gather findings through studies. A survey and an eye tracking study were designed and conducted to obtain insights in terms of the cognitive load when individuals with little experience read different modularized business process models. The survey focuses on the cognitive load and understandability while reading business process models. As a single factor between subject study design was applied, a subdivision into three groups (one group for each modularization approach) was utilized. In contrast to the survey, the eye tracking study, with its 3x3 within subject design, provides insights into the performance success (number of correct answers, required time). Further, design variants of the single modularization approach are comparable. The results of the survey and the eye tracking study indicate one significant difference.
This difference is based on the intrinsic cognitive load measured in the survey. Vertical modularization provides a significantly higher intrinsic cognitive load compared to the other approaches in business process modeling. However, as no further differences arose, the utilization of modularization approaches in business process modeling has no impact in terms of understandability of the process model.