Cheetah Experimental Platform

Cheetah Experimental Platform (CEP) has been developed fostering experimental research on business process modeling. CEP provides components that are frequently used in controlled experiments and allows their assembly to experimental workflows. CEP supports experimental execution by mitigating risks endangering data validity through better user guidance. Additionally, CEP provides richer evaluation techniques compared to paper based experiments fostering the experiment’s data analysis.

Designing Experiments with Cheetah Experimental Platform

CEP enables experimenters to quickly assemble experimental workflows from components that have proven to work well in several experiments. In particular, CEP offers a set of frequently used components, including surveys, tutorials and Cheetah Modeler for creating business processes.

demographic_survey

Figure 1: Survey Component

tutorial

Figure 2: Tutorial Component

Executing Experiments with Cheetah Experimental Platform

When executing the experimental workflow configuration CEP guides the user through the experiment ensuring that the setup is followed. Furthermore, data collected when executing the experimental workflow is stored on a central database server, giving researchers the possibility to check whether all activities were completed and to restore the experiment to a specific state (e.g., in case of a crashed system). If the database server cannot be accessed a local copy is created and the user is asked to send it to the experiment’s supervisor via email.

In order to enable the investigation of how process models are created, CEP offers Cheetah Modeler, which is a rather simple modeling component providing only basic modeling functionalities for simulating a pen and paper modeling session using a subset of BPMN. The focus was put on developing a tool facilitating the investigation of how process models are created, rather than providing a full
fledged modeling suite.

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Figure 3: Creating Process Models with Cheetah Modeler

Besides monitoring the experiment’s correct execution and gathering the results of surveys, the collection of data on how users create process models was one of the main objectives when implementing Cheetah Modeler. Consequently, every change to the process model (e.g., add/delete/move activity, add/delete/move edge) and the corresponding timestamp is automatically recorded and stored in a separate process log, offering the possibility for detailed investigations concerning the process of process modeling.

Data Analysis with Cheetah Experimental Platform

To be able to analyze data collected when executing the experimental workflow an export system is in place. By providing the option to export data as Comma-Separated Values (CSV) files, several tools for performing statistical analysis can be addressed (e.g., SPSS, Excel). One of the main advantages of using CEP is the possibility of replaying process models created with Cheetah Modeler.Recording all modeling steps enables researches to investigate how business process models are really created. For this purpose Cheetah Analyzer was implemented allowing for a step by step execution of modeling processes (click here to see a demo). Additionally, researches can export modeling processes using the Mining XML (MXML) format, allowing them to apply process mining techniques using ProM.

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Figure 4: Replaying Process Models with CEP

Publications

  • J. Pinggera, S. Zugal and B. Weber: Investigating the Process of Process Modeling with Cheetah Experimental Platform. In: Proc. ER-POIS ’10, pp. 13–18, 2010.  
  • J. Pinggera, S. Zugal and B. Weber: Investigating the Process of Process Modeling with Cheetah Experimental Platform. EMISA Forum 30(2):25–31, 2010