Methods and Tools for Business-Process Oriented Knowledge Management: Experiences from Case Studies

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1 Methods and Tools for Business-Process Oriented Knowledge Management: Experiences from Case Studies Andreas Abecker 1, Giorgos Papavassiliou 2, Spyridon Ntioudis 2, Gregory Mentzas 2, Stephan Müller 3 1 FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik an der Universität Karlsruhe, Haid-und-Neu-Str , D Karlsruhe, Germany, 2 National Technical University of Athens, 9, Iroon Politexniou Str., Zografou, Greece, 3 Dr. Herterich & Consultants (DHC) GmbH, Landwehrplatz 6-7, D Saarbrücken, Germany, Abstract The FP5 European RTD project DECOR (Delivery of Context -Sensitive Organizational Knowledge) developed, consolidated, and tested a total solution for business-process oriented knowledge management (BPOKM ), including a business process analysis method and tool, a business-process oriented intelligent knowledge archive system, and a workflow enactment, tightly coupled with the archive, in order to pro-actively offer to the user context -sensitive knowledge and information services. Besides a short introduction into the general approach, this paper reports on the case study results and tries to assess the relevance of BPOKM approaches for Concurrent Enterprising. Keywords Knowledge Management, Enterprise Modelling, Industrial Cases 1 Introduction Business-Process Management (BPM, see (Hammer & Champy, 1993); (Georgakopoulos & Tsalgatidou, 1998)) and Knowledge Management (KM, cp. (Davenport & Prusak, 2000); (Mentzas et al., 2002)) are two prerequisites for successful realization of Concurrent Enterprising. The former ensures consistent, documented, and efficient procedures along a production chain dispersed in space, time, and organizational dimensions; the latter allows for continuous process improvement and informed task execution, also in he terogeneous and dis tributed environments. This paper describes the results of the European RTD project DECOR (Delivery of Context-Sensitive Organizational Knowledge) which developed a total solution for Business- Process Oriented Knowledge Management (BPOKM) aiming at a deep integration of KM and BPM. In several previous papers 1 we summarized the elements of the DECOR solution, which can also be found in the DECOR Final Public Report 2. In brief, these elements are: The DECOR Process-oriented Knowledge Archive, based upon DHC s CognoVision 3 tool for knowledge storage and retrieval with metadata, ontological structures, and typed, attributed links. 1 See, e.g., (Abecker et al., 2002); (Papavassiliou et al., 2002). 2 See 3 See

2 The DECOR Business Knowledge Method, amalgamating CommonKADS (Schreiber et al., 1999) and IDEF5 4, equipped with a Microsoft VISIO graphical modelling method which is directly linked to CognoVision in order to allow for semantics-based modelling. The DECOR Workflow-Triggered Knowledge Delivery, a simple yet effective workflow enactment which uses dynamic task context for proactive storage and delivery of knowledge items within a running workflow (cp. (Abecker et al., 1999)). These solution modules have been designed, developed, and consolidated in an iterative improvement process, with a close interaction between development of technical and methodological modules and application and evaluation of these methods and tools in three real-world case studies. In this paper we will report about two of these case studies, namely IKA (IKA is the Greek Social Security Institute) and the PVG case (PVG, the Plasmaverarbeitungsgesellschaft in Springe, Germany, is a subsidiary of the German Red Cross, dealing with the acquisition, transport, storage, and processing of blood and blood plasma donors). The paper is structured as follows: in the next two sections 2 and 3, we describe one case, respectively, by illustrating the organizational environment and the business process in quest, by sketching the KM functio nalities delivered by our research prototype, and by summarizing results from practical evaluation. In section 4, we conclude and discuss the relevance of our approach for Concurent Enterprising. 2 The IKA Case 2.1 Context and process description The Greek Social Security Institute (IKA), is the largest insurance institution in Greece. Having as its primary purpose the protection of the insured persons, IKA offers an extensive range of services to them, like insurance, benefits, pensions and interstate social security. Currently, IKA provides health care to insured persons including the members of their family and pays out pensions to pensioners approximately. The business process that was examined and modelled with our tool is the granting of full old age pension. The significance of the pension process for IKA lies in the large number of beneficiaries that currently amounts to persons and increase at an annual rate of 10%. The interestingness of the pension granting process for the DECOR project lies in the fact that it requires a deep knowledge of the relevant legislation; first for making the decision whether the insured person is entitled to receive a pension; and second for calculating the amount of pension. It is quite common that for one specific case more than one legal regulation may be relevant, and it is a matter of knowledge and experience to identify all these regulations, and then choose the most appropriate one. If it is the case that the insured member can establish a pension right under more than one regulation, the different pension amounts are calculated and the highest one is chosen. These decision steps must be legally checkable, they are often done with uncertainty, based on the experience of the relevant regulations the employees have, and they are vital for the correct result of the process. The business process begins with the submission of the application form by the insured person and the collection of all the supplementary documentation, which constitutes the retirement folder. The retirement folder is submitted by the insured person to any of IKA s branches and then it is forwarded to the one being responsible for acting upon it. The pension folder is checked at the department of pensions or the department of payments. If it is not complete, a communication between the department of pensions or the department of payments and the insured member 4 See

3 or other departments or even other branches takes place in order to receive the documents that are required for the establishment of the pension right. The insured person is entitled to pension when he/she fulfils the prerequisite conditions (e.g., minimum number of working days and age) for the specific type of pension and category to which he/she belongs. The decision regarding the entitlement to a pension is made on the basis of the employment and personal data of the insured person. This decision is based also on the current legal regulations, which are differentiated according to factors such as the pension type, the category of the insured person, etc. Figure 1: Part of IKA s KM-enhanced business process The Figure above shows part of IKA s business-process model, as designed with the DECOR knowledge modelling tool. We see the major knowledge-intensive task Decide about the case in the middle of the process model; linked to it are two KM-service tasks which are automatically invoked when starting the associated operative task: one for searching and presenting legal regulations relevant for the given situation, and one for searching and presenting other relevant, information (in particular, this means searching a Lessons Learned (LL) collection) from similar cases. This task does not only present existing LLs, it also asks the user for potentially available new LLs to put into the system by filling an LL template. Dynamic task context is in this case achieved through the workflow and information flow variables serving as input for the KM service tasks, which cannot be seen on this picture. For instance, the age and number of working days of a customer, are such variables which are filled earlier in the process and then help to precisely identify the relevant information. 2.2 Evaluation approach & system benefits In order to evaluate the DECOR tool for the Granting of full old pension process, first of all the tool was installed on an autonomous server PC of the department of IT research and support in the Development and testing of new IT systems IKA s division in Athens. The initial system testing involved running with the IKA pilot five past cases of insured members i.e. cases

4 which had already been examined by IKA. Having the respective decisions at hand, the system was tested in particular with respect to the question whether it retrieved the correct relevant regulations. It is clear that the retrieval of Lessons Learned from similar cases could not be tested because, at that point of time, there were not yet enough cases in the knowledge archive. Following the initial test and after ensuring the proper operation of the prototype in terms of workflow execution of the business process, a training workshop with the IKA personnel was organised. During the workshop the system was presented to the IKA personnel and specifically to members of the department of IT research and support. The demonstration of the system involved first processing with the system two past cases by ICCS / PLANET-EY. After clarifying to the IKA personnel the way the system operates, three other past cases were processed with the system by the IKA personnel. ICCS/PLANET-EY were present in order to answer questions and give clarifications were needed. The next step was the operation of the system by IKA personnel with 15 past cases (again different from all the previously entered in the system) in order to fill in the archive and create an initial knowledge base with similar cases (Lessons Learned). The cases were carefully selected in order to be representative and contained at least one occupation category (e.g. construction workers, syndicalists), both sexes and spanned across different age ranges. Finally the system was tested again by the IKA personnel with 15 new cases. These cases were applications of insured members recently submitted to IKA for which no decision had been issued yedt. During this phase indicative time measurements were taken in order to derive an initial assessment of the speed in executing the business process with the aid of the tool. Roughly, the following quantitative measurements for the effect of the tool were observed: Criteria Number of decisions issues per day (in case all the respective documentation is available to the person exa mining the application in order to issue a decision) Number of decisions issued per week against the number of submitted applications per week Reference measurement 2,4 4 21,86 % 43 % With DECOR Percentage of appeals to IKA s decision 10% 9 % (estimated) Table 1: Qualitative results of tool usage The direct reactions of the end users working with the tool showed that already the simple process improvements coming from the process automation through the use of the combined workflow/electronic archive solution was convincing, exhibiting the following advantages over the manual process enactment and document handling: No transport time of files or time for searching paper files needed Automated provision of template forms for electronic documents plus partial fill-in useful Automatic creation of project folder accessible by all process participants The following short-term benefits of the automatic KM functionalities were mentioned: Faster access to relevant regulations and past experience than paper-bound working Faster dissemination of new regulations, best practices, or other new information The following long-term benefits of the automatic KM functionalities were expected: More consistent treatment of cases, because all employees access the same regulations Start into a new era of knowledge sharing culture and faster dissmination of best practice through the automatic gathering and distribution of Lessons Learned

5 3 The PVG Case 3.1 Context and process description In the PVG case we are handling the business process of change management for the validated SAP R/3 system of PVG. The process of change management starts if an user of the SAP R/3 system has a change request. Such changes can be one of the following types: software development, customizing, or changes in the system master data. The change request is classified depending on the affected business processes as critical or not critical, and the change is associated to one of the three categories: great change, standard change or small change. Depending on the risk classification and the change category, one of the following four procedures for the exe cution of the change has to be applied: revalidation, standard procedure, simplified procedure, or uncritical procedure. The criteria for the classification of the change are given in the following tables. Change category characteristics example great change standard change o Further usage of the system or of parts of the system are not possible without violation of the EC-GMP guideline o The implications of the change can not be estimated o The implications can estimated by the module administrator. o Few or small implications on EC-GMP guidelines Exchange of operating system of server Creation of a new kind of production order small change o Changes without implications to EC-GMP guidelines Creation of a new ma terials requirements planner Table 2: Classification of system changes Change category GMP-critical not GMP-critical great change revalidation revalidation standard change standard procedure standard procedure small change simplified procedure uncritical procedure Table 3: Procedures for change management The Change Management business process has the following main steps: (1) Risk analysis; (2) Specification; (3) Implementation; (4) Functional test; (5) Acceptance test; and (6) Release. Depending on the procedure some steps can be omitted. In the process involved are: (i) the user of the SAP system; (ii) the Quality Manager; (iii) the modul administrator for the SAP system; (iv) a consultant or software developer; (v) the administrator of the SAP system; and (vi) the SAP project manager. The process of change management is strongly coupled to the documentation of the validated system. The validation documentation is the base for the process of change management, and the process of change management modifies the validation documentation.

6 Figure 2: Types of documents in the PVG system The Figure above illustrates the manifold kinds of documents / information objects involved in either the operational enactment of such a change process (such as as the User Requirements Specification document URS, or the risk classification document), or in the knowledge support offered to the user enacting the process (such as documentation about the legal background, about company regulations, or about Standard Operating Procedures SOP). All these documents are organized in the Process-Oriented Structured Archive under different views which give comfortable query or navigation access to search the knowledge base. The views contained in this Validation Knowledge Base comprise for example: (a) the procedure model prospective validation with links to background knowledge for each process step; (b) the procedure model retrospective validation with links ; (c) the menu structure of the SAP R/3 system maintained with this change management approach; (d) the PVG business processes supported by the R/3 system thus organizing access to change projects and background information through the operative processess affected; and others more. 3.2 Evaluation approach & system benefits The system introduction in PVG followed a two-step procedure. In the first step, the Validation Knowledge Base (which is in the meanwhile available as a commercial product offered by DHC) was introduced without workflow enactment, just as a passive information and document management system in the PVG Intranet. It contains about 780 information objects (validationspecific background information in 15 types of information objects see above, grouped by 44 structure elements). In the first couple of weeks when the system was accessed as an obligatory part of the official change management procedure, about 3300 document access could be counted. For the use of the workflow extension of the Process-Oriented Archive System, a test installation was demonstrated to and tested by the PVG Quality Manager, but did not yet go operational up to the time being when this paper was written. Hence the impressions of this test usage are not based upon solid empirical data, but on the personal impressions and perceived usefulness of the PVG Quality Manager. In general, quantitative results of the use of the DECOR tool in PVG are difficult to assess, since the major issue to be assessed is quality which can hardly be measured quantitatively. However, some general remarks could be made:

7 Regarding the short-term benefits of process automation and KM support, the following observations were made: Since the Change Mangement process is complicated (up to a dozen different people involved in several dozens of tasks), the simple advantages from automatic forwarding and bookkeeping of tasks is already considerable. Since a complete documentation of all realized software changes is crucial for the certification status of PVG, the automatic creation of project folders and automated storage of documents is also a very useful functionality. Since the logical space of background information spanned in this application is extremely high, the automatic link to relevant help documents might lower the hurdle of starting to search for help so considerably, that now information is taken into account which formerly tended to be ignored or overseen. For the QM responsible person and for the SAP R/3 manager, it is a useful side effect to be able to monitor the status of pending changes by using the process monitor of the workflow tool. In general, the following patterns of benefits could be identified: Non frequent validation users of the knowledge archive are helped to respect the validation procedures and to find easily the right document at the right moment in the quite complex validation knowledge base. Expert validation users will be implicitly forced to respect the procedure under time pressure, what they have difficulties with at the moment (experts tend to bypass the rules). As also said in the IKA case, the DECOR workflow can be used for training purposes, as it gives a systematic approach to learn in the application context. 4 Conclusions and Further Research The DECOR solution shows the ingredients of a successful BPOKM application. The feedback from our case studies provides a good overview of what can be achieved today and what next steps are required. Interestingly, each pilot primarily exploited other functionalities of the final software system (like process automation, linking of documents, automatic knowledge delivery, dynamic task-context, knowledge exchange between different employees), and that all cases draw their benefits from different major application situations and intentions (process-based training for new employees, process throughput optimization, process documentation and consistency with company rules,...). This helped us to shape the general characteristics of situations where DECOR-like solutions can add value. It could be seen that a combined methodological approach for BPM and KM in a company is much more promising than starting from scratch with a pure KM project. Nevertheless, it is still a demanding task to start such a project in a company. Hence we try to analyse preconditions for the successful application and requirements for a future extension of our methods and tools, like, e.g., introductory material, analyses about cultural factors, etc. We are confident that BPOKM solutions are a useful internal prerequisite to make companies fit for Concurrent Enterprising. It is also obvious that a fragmentarization of organizational units in a networked economy leads to knowledge islands which must be bridged at least temporarily for a given cooperation. In order to come to really integrated Concurrent Enterprising solutions on a BPOKM basis, we see research and development needs in the following areas: Cross-Organizational Workflows: are already well covered in research, but not yet common in practice. It stands to reason which interfaces and enactment paradigms (like agent-based workflow) are suited to support such functionalities. This must be

8 seen together with today s Web Services trends. From the non-technical point of view, questions like trust, reliability and confidentiality of knowledge exchanged between virtual project partners must be tackled. Cross-workflow Knowledge Management: exchanging knowledge between several open business process instances is a natural requirement coming from the KM idea, but not so usual in the BPM paradigm which tends to consider one process at a time. Methods must be extended towards this direction. Ontology Mapping: the more heterogeneous a virtual project team is, the more probable it is that different participants have different viewpoints and foci of interest and thus develop their own conceptualizations of the domain they are working in. If they shall collaborate, the ontology mapping problem, well-known in theory and research, can become a critical success factor. Currently, there is a quest for stable and understandable showcases that demonstrate pragmatic solutions for concrete sample applications in this area. These considerations show that DECOR provides encouraging intermediate results, but that the future asks thrilling further research questions for intelligently and efficiently operating the Concurrent Enterprise. Acknowledgement The DECOR project was partly funded by the European Commission under Grant IST The first author of this paper who acted as the project manager, was at that time working for the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) Kaiserslautern. Other partners in the DECOR consortium were: DHC - Dr. Herterich & Consultants GmbH, Saarbrücken (Germany); IKA The Greek Social Security Institution, Athens (Greece); the Institute for Computer and Communication Systems (ICCS) of the National Technical University of Athens (Greece); SchlumbergerSema, Brussels (Belgium); and Planet, Ernst & Young, Athens (Greece). Further application partners in DECOR were CHU Bruggman, Brussels (Belgium) and the Plasmaverarbeitungsgesellschaft mbh, Springe (Germany). References Abecker, A., et al.: Towards a Technology for Organizational Memories, IEEE Intelligent Systems, 13(3), May/June Abecker, A., Bernardi A. and Sintek S.: Enterprise Information Infrastructures for Active, Context -Sensitive Knowledge Delivery. In: ECIS'99 - The 7th European Conference on Information Systems, Copenhagen, Denmark. June Abecker A., et al.: Context -Aware, Proactive Delivery of Task-Specific Knowledge: The KnowMore Project, Int. Journal on Information Systems Frontiers (ISF) 2(3/4): , Kluwer, Abecker, A., et al.: The DECOR Toolbox for Workflow-Embedded Organizational Memory Access, J.Filipe et al. (eds.), Enterprise Information Systems III, Kluwer, Davenport, T.H. and Prusak, L. (2000), Working Knowledge, Harvard Business School Press. Georgakopoulos, D. and A. Tsalgatidou: Technology and Tools for Comprehensive Business Process Life cycle Management. In 'Workflow Management Systems and Interoperability', Asuman Dogac, Leonid Kalinichenko, Tamer Ozsu and Amit Sheth (Eds.), NATO ASI Series F, Springer Verlag, Hammer M., and Champy J.: Reengineering the Corporation - A Manifesto for Business Revolution, HarperBusiness, Harper Collins Publishers, Mentzas, G., Apostolou, D., Young, R., and Abecker, A.: Knowledge Asset Networking. London: Springer, Papavassiliou, G., Mentzas, G., and Abecker, A.: Integrating Knowledge Modelling in Business Process Management, The Xth European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS-2002), Gdansk, Poland, Schreiber, G., et al., 1999, Knowledge Engineering and Management: The CommonKADS Methodology. MIT Press.

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