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

Pedro Parraguez, Sebastiano Piccolo, Marija Majda Perišić, Mario Štorga, Anja M Maier

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1867-1879
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number6
Early online date5 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021


  • design process
  • modularity
  • network analysis
  • process modularity


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