Process modularity over time : modelling process execution as an evolving activity network

Parraguez, Pedro and Piccolo, Sebastiano and Perišić, Marija Majda and Štorga, Mario and Maier, Anja M (2021) Process modularity over time : modelling process execution as an evolving activity network. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 68 (6). pp. 1867-1879. ISSN 0018-9391 (

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Process modularity describes the extent to which processes can be decomposed into modules to be executed in parallel. So far, research has approached process modularity from a static perspective, not accounting for its temporal evolution. As a result, the understanding of process modularity has been limited to inferences drawn from aggregated analyses that disregard process execution. This article introduces and develops the notion of dynamic process modularity considering the evolving activity network structure as executed by people. Drawing on network science, the article quantifies process modularity over time using archival data from an engineering design process of a biomass power plant. This article shows how studying the temporal evolution of process modularity enables a more complete understanding of activity networks, facilitates the comparison of actual process modularity patterns against formal engineering design stages, and provides data-driven decision-support for process planning and interventions. Finally, managerial recommendations for interface management, resource allocation, and process decomposition are proposed, to help practitioners better to understand and manage dynamic processes.