Looking at the Case Management Modeling and Notation (CMMN) from a Research Perspective


In the last decade, case management has become an active area of research in the BPM research community. In the context of process technology, it was first introduced by Berkley and Eccles [1] in 1991 and Davenport and Nohria [2] in 1994. Case handling was introduced by Van Der Aalst and Berens in 2001 [13] and Reijers et al. [9] in 2003 to support the flexibility required by knowledge workers during a process and to help them better deal with exceptions that may occur during such process. Unlike workflow and most other process methods that focus on what should be done in a process, case management focuses on what can be done to achieve the business goal of the process [14].

With the publication in early 2014 of the Case Management Modeling and Notation (CMMN) by the OMG, research teams started to focus on that specification. Schönig et al. [10] considered human centric processes starting with CMMN modeling skeletons that evolve over time. Hauder et al. [3] explored the applicability of CMMN for knowledge intensive processes exposed via a wiki environment for business users. Kurz et al. [5] compared CMMN against adaptive case management and concluded that for the most part CMMN fulfills the adaptive case management requirements. My colleagues and I [7] evaluated CMMN against knowledge-intensive process requirements, and conclude that it is a suitable approach as long as the execution environment is flexible enough.

CMMN Complexity

We have analyzed CMMN from different perspectives. We have look at the provenance of the specification [6], its applicability to knowledge-intensive processes [7], its meta-model complexity [8], and currently we are focusing on complexity metrics for it.

We compared the CMMN meta-model against other modeling notations [8], including several subsets of BPMN 1.2, and concluded that CMMN compares favorably to other process modeling notations like BPMN. The following table describes our findings [8],


We are now conducting empirical research on complexity metrics for the CMMN specification. For that purpose, we have created a short CMMN tutorial that introduces participants to the complete CMMN version 1.0 specification. The tutorial should take 30 to 40 minutes to complete. The tutorial is followed by a short survey designed around a set of CMMN models. Each participant is only exposed to two models from the set. The survey should take between 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

The minimum number of participants required for a statistical significant sample in our current experiment is 136 evenly distributed across the set of models. The survey is designed to assign two random models to each participant. Therefore, realistically we may need around 200 participants to obtain a statistically significant sample.

Request for participants

In this phase of the research, we are looking for participants with basic knowledge of process technology to take the tutorial and survey. Participants don't need to be familiar with CMMN, because the tutorial provides the required knowledge to complete the survey, which can be considered a quiz on the tutorial. Participation is voluntary and no identifiable personal information is collected.

Participants will learn about CMMN with the tutorial; and they will gain some experience and appreciation for CMMN by evaluating two models in the survey. The full exercise takes about 45 to 60 minutes to complete; but it can be done in multiple sessions. As an appreciation to the participants, we will donate $6 (six dollars) to a charity of their choice and we provide them with early results of the survey.

Readers willing to participate can use the following URL to take the optional tutorial and survey. The first page provides more information on the project. The URL will be available for three weeks, or until we have reached the required number of responses.



[1] J. D. Berkley and R. G. Eccles. Rethinking the Corporate Workplace: Case Managers at Mutual Benefit Life. Case N9-492-015, Harvard Business School, Boston, MA, 1991.

[2] T. Davenport and N. Nohria. Case Management and the Integration of Labor. MIT Sloan Management Review, 35(2):11–23, 1994.

[3] M. Hauder, R. Kazman, and F. Matthes. Empowering End-Users to Collaboratively Structure Processes for Knowledge Work. In Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Business Information Systems (BIS), 2015.

[4] M. Indulska, M. Z. Muehlen, and J. C. Recker. Measuring Method Complexity: The Case of the Business Process Modeling Notation. BPM Center Report BPM-09-03, Business Process Management Center, 2009.

[5] M. Kurz, W. Schmidt, A. Fleischmann, and M. Lederer. Leveraging CMMN for ACM: Examining the Applicability of a New OMG Standard for Adaptive Case Management. In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Subject-Oriented Business Process Management, S-BPM ONE '15, New York, NY, USA, 2015. ACM.

[6] M. Marin, R. Hull, and R. Vaculn. Data Centric BPM and the Emerging Case Management Standard: A Short Survey. In M. Rosa and P. Soffer, editors, Business Process Management Workshops, volume 132 of Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, pages 24–30. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2013.

[7] M. A. Marin, M. Hauder, and F. Matthes. Case Management: An Evaluation of Existing Approaches for Knowledge-Intensive Processes. In 4rd International Workshop on Adaptive Case Management and other non-workflow approaches to BPM (AdaptiveCM), pages 1–12, 2015.

[8] M. A. Marin, H. Lotriet, and J. A. van der Poll. Measuring Method Complexity of the Case Management Modeling and Notation (CMMN). In J. van Deventer, M. Matthee, H. Gelderblom, and A. Gerber, editors, Proceedings of the South African Institute for Computer Scientists and Information Technologists Conference (SAICSIT'14), pages 209–216, Centurion, Gauteng, South Africa, 2014. ACM Press, New York, USA.

[9] H. A. Reijers, J. Rigter, and W. M. P. Van Der Aalst. The Case Handling Case. International Journal of Cooperative Information Systems, 12(3):365–391, 2003.

[10] S. Schönig, M. Zeising, and S. Jablonski. Supporting collaborative work by learning process models and patterns from cases. In Collaborative Computing: Networking, Applications and Worksharing (Collaboratecom), 2013 9th International Conference Conference on, pages 60–69. IEEE, 2013.

[11] K. Siau and Q. Cao. How Complex is the Unified Modeling Language? In K. Siau, editor, Advanced Topics in Database Research Vol. 1, pages 294–306. IGI Global, Hershey, PA, USA, 2002.

[12] U.S. Department of Defense. Enterprise Architecture based on Design Primitives and Patterns Guidelines for the Design and Development of Event-Trace Descriptions (DoDAF OV-6c) using BPMN. Technical report, Business Transformation Agency, 2009.

[13] W. M. P. Van Der Aalst and P. J. S. Berens. Beyond Workflow Management: Product-Driven Case Handling. In Proceedings of the 2001 International ACM SIGGROUP, pages 42–51, New York, 2001. ACM Press.

[14] W. M. P. Van Der Aalst, M. Weske, and D. Grunbauer. Case Handling: A New Paradigm for Business Process Support. Data and Knowledge Engineering, 53(2):129–162, 2005.

[15] M. Zur Muehlen and D. T. Ho. Service Process Innovation: A Case Study of BPMN in Practice. In Proceedings of the 41st Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, pages 372–372, Waikoloa, Big Island, Hawaii, 2008. IEEE.

[16] M. Zur Muehlen and J. C. Recker. How Much Language Is Enough? Theoretical and Practical Use of the Business Process Modeling Notation. In 20th International Conference on Advanced Information Systems Engineering, pages 465–479, Montpellier, France, 2008. Springer-Verlag.

Mike Marin

Mike Marin is an IBM Distinguished Engineer currently taking a two years Sabbatical at the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria. The work reported in this article has been done at UNISA. Marin is also an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Distinguished Member and life member, with a MSCS in Artificial Intelligence. He has more than twenty years of experience designing and developing system software, including workflow, business process management, and case management products. He has been an active participant in standard organizations, including WfMC, OMG, and OASIS; working on BPM, Case Management, and workflow standards. He has edited and contributed to the definition of several software standards, including WS-BPEL, BPMN 1.0, XPDL, and CMMN. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mike_Marin

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