Pattern 10 (Organisational Distribution)

FLASH animation of Organisational Allocation pattern


The ability to distribute work items to resources based their position within the organisation and their relationship with other resources.


  • The Review Audit work item must be allocated to a Partner resource.
  • The Authorise Expenditure work item must be allocated to the Manager of the resource that undertook the Claim Expenditure work item in a given case.


Most offerings provide some degree of support for modelling the organisational context in which a given process operates. This is an important aspect of business process modelling and implementation as many work distribution decisions are made in the context of the organisational structure and the relative position of individual resources both in the overall hierarchy and also in terms of their relationships with other resources. The ability to capture and emulate these types of work distribution strategies are an important requirement if PAIS are to provide a flexible and realistic basis for managing work in an organisational setting.


Organisational Distribution assumes the existence of organizational distribution functions which take a set of resources and the organizational model associated with a process and return the subset of those resource that satisfy the nominated organizational criteria. These may include factors such as members of a specified department, resources holding a certain position, resources that report to a nominated individual or any other combination of requirements that can be determined from the organizational model. Each task in a process model can have an organizational distribution function associated with it.


There are no specific context conditions associated with this pattern.


The degree of support for this pattern varies widely. Staffware only incorporates basic organizational model with provides support for role and group based work distribution. iPlanet is similar, only providing Role-based Distribution, however it lacks any form of integrated organisational model. FLOWer extends the notion of Role-based Distribution and provides limited support for organisational structure in the form of a role hierarchy. WebSphere MQ supports a hierarchical organisational model and in addition to Direct and Role-based Distribution, it allows organisational relationships such as coordinator of role, member of organisational unit, manager of organisation and starter of activity to be for work item allocation. COSA also incorporates a hierarchical organisational model and supports work allocation based either on roles or characteristics of the organisational model (e.g. supervisor, group membership). Oracle BPEL provides support for an organizational model but only offers indirect support for the pattern as there are no direct mechanism for using its contents as the basis for work distribution decisions (although this can be achieved via programmatic extensions).


None identified.



Evaluation Criteria

An offering achieves full support if it satisfies the description for the pattern. It achieves a partial support rating if the same effect can be achieved via programmatic extensions.

Product Evaluation

To achieve a + rating (direct support) or a +/- rating (partial support) the product should satisfy the corresponding evaluation criterion of the pattern. Otherwise a - rating (no support) is assigned.





Staffware 9 +/- Partial support for roles and groups
Websphere MQ Workflow 3.4 + Directly supported
FLOWer 3.0 +/- Role hierarchy provides limited support for specifying an organisational structure for use in work distribution
COSA 4 + Directly supported through user/group and user/group script languages
iPlanet 3.1 - Not supported
BPMN 1.0 - Not supported
UML 2.0 - Not supported
Oracle BPEL 10.1.2 +/- Oracle BPEL PM offers an indirect support for this pattern. The organisational structure is stored in the xml format in the jazn-data.xml file, and it can be modified and extended. The relationships between roles are specified via the role-hierarchy tree. The roles defined become accessible via the look-up wizard.
jBPM 3.1.4 - jBPM does not support this pattern currently. jPDL has a primitive role. An assignment of a task can be specified as <assignment expression = "group(employees) --> role(programmer)">. However, currently a work item which is distributed to a role with several users playing it, gets only stored in the database from where it can not be "pulled out" and executed by a user playing this role.
OpenWFE 1.7.3 - OpenWFE does not support this pattern.
Enhydra Shark 2 - Enhydra Shark does not support this pattern, as any organizational model can not be captured (or referred to) in the tool.

Summary of Evaluation

+ Rating

+/- Rating

  1. The workflow engine provides support for specifying the relationships between workflow users (i.e. resources) in the form of an organisational model.
  2. These relationships can be used as the basis of work item offering and allocation.
  1. A similar effect can be achieved through programmatic extensions.
  2. There is partial support for an organisational model.