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Improving comprehension of process diagrams with Graphical highlights
Gregor Jošt, 2018, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: The main purpose of business process diagrams is to facilitate the communication between the process-related stakeholders, which directly affects the decision-making. For this reason, they must be easy to understand. However, this is often challenging to achieve, since business process diagrams can become large and complex. This, in turn, can negatively affect their correctness and understandability. The goal of this doctoral thesis was to propose and investigate an approach that makes business process diagrams appear less complex, without changing the corresponding diagrammatic notation or the business process diagrams themselves. This was done by manipulating the opacity of graphical elements in order to emphasize the important parts of a business process diagram by lowlighting the irrelevant ones. The proposed solution, named Emphasis, implemented with opacity-based Graphical Highlight pattern, abbreviated as simply Graphical highlights, was subsequently applied to sample business process diagram, modeled in Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN). The analysis demonstrated that the structural complexity of the business process diagrams decreased when the proposed solution was applied. Afterwards, a Web application prototype was implemented, which supports the proposed set of Graphical highlights. Furthermore, we empirically validated whether Graphical highlights positively impact cognitive effectiveness of business process diagrams, and if the users will find the prototype implementation useful. To this end, an experimental research, which included 85 participants, was conducted. The participants were randomly assigned in either the treatment group (Graphical highlights diagram representation approach), or the control group (conventional diagram representation approach). In accordance with the definition of cognitive effectiveness, speed, ease, and accuracy of answering 26 comprehension questions were observed, along with the perceived usefulness of the prototype. The results of the analysis demonstrated that participants who used Graphical highlights significantly outperformed those that used the conventional approach in all experiment's observations. We can conclude that using Graphical highlights increases the cognitive effectiveness of business process diagrams, while the corresponding prototype implementation is perceived as being useful.
Keywords: process diagrams, emphasis, graphical highlights, cognitive effectiveness, controlled experiment, prototype implementation, BPMN
Published: 21.12.2018; Views: 1360; Downloads: 109
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