Considering Human Factors in Workflow Development

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1 Considering Human Factors in Workflow Development Lucinéia Heloisa Thom 1,2, Cirano Iochpe 1,2, Ida Gus 2 1 Instituto de Informática Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) Caixa Postal Porto Alegre RS Brazil 2 Projeto SINPLI Fundação Estadual de Proteção Ambiental (FEPAM), Rua Carlos Chagas Nº 55, Sala 812 Porto Alegre RS Brasil Abstract. This article presents a proposal to integrate organization structure analysis and human resistance identification and treatment as integral stages of a workflow development process. The main goal of the article are to emphasize that implementing a workflow causes changes to organizations and that people may resist such changes, thus making implementation more difficult. The article is based mainly on the experience of developing SINPLI an Information System for the Environmental Licensing Process. The article brings forth two main contributions, which are a) to warn the Project Team of the importance of identifying and treating human resistance during development; and b) to suggest ways of minimizing the effects such resistance has on the Software project. Resumo. Neste artigo é apresentada uma proposta de integração da análise da estrutura organizacional e da identificação e tratamento das resistências humanas como fases integrantes do processo de desenvolvimento do workflow. O principal objetivo do artigo é ressaltar que a implantação de um workflow provoca mudanças na cultura organizacional e estas mudanças podem gerar resistências por parte das pessoas, dificultando a implantação do mesmo. A base do artigo está centrada, nas experiências adquiridas no desenvolvimento do Sistema de Informação para o Processo de Licenciamento Ambiental (SINPLI). As duas principais contribuições do artigo são: alertar a Equipe de Projeto quanto à importância da identificação e do tratamento das resistências humanas durante o desenvolvimento e sugerir meios de minimizar os efeitos destas sobre o projeto de Software. 1. Introduction This article is about workflow-based Information Systems. Such Systems receive information from an organization, then treat it and distribute it [Leyman 2000]. A workflow is a type of Information System that is defined as the total or partial automatization of a business process, in which documents, information and/or tasks are sent from part to part in order to have actions taken in accordance with a set of rules and proceedings [Fischer 2001]. An analysis of the current market shows the need for greater interoperability between workflow management systems, which are different from one another

2 concerning architecture, available functionalities, modeling and concepts [Thom 2000]. In 1993, the Workflow Management Coalition was created with the goal of promoting workflow by informing about the technology and development of standards for workflow interoperability with other workflows as well as other applications. In spite of WfMC s efforts, the complexity involved in workflow development goes beyond interoperability. It is a new technology that causes changes in the organization culture. Such changes may create what Psychology defines as human resistance or resistance to change. From a psychological view, human resistance is a kind of barrier created by human beings when faced with change. Therefore, the main goal of this article is to emphasize the importance of identifying and treating human resistance in the making of a workflow application. The article is based on the experience acquired during the development of SINPLI an Information System for the Environmental Licensing Process. This Project ran from October 1998 to November 2000 and was developed by the joint efforts of the Federal University at Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) and the Henrique Luis Roessler State Foundation for Environmental Protection (FEPAM-RS). The Project Team had eight members, including professionals and researchers on Workflow, Databases and Psychology. Basically, this article presents a method to develop workflows that is based on the development process of SINPLI. It also defines the techniques considered by the SINPLI Project Team in identifying and treating the human resistance that emerged during the development stages. Finally, it presents a proposal for integrating organization structure analysis as a part of the workflow development process. This analysis allows identification of organization characteristics, which determine a specific kind of organization structure. At a later stage, such analysis can be used to determine organization-dependent workflow aspects. The article is structured as follows. Section 1 describes the SINPLI Project development process. Section 2 presents techniques to identify and treat human resistance taken into account on the SINPLI Project. Section 3 introduces a proposal for integrating the analysis of the organization structure as a part of the workflow development process. Section 4, then, contains conclusions and references for future work within the scope of the article analysis. 2. The SINPLI Project Development Process Environmental Licensing is one of the main processes performed by FEPAM. It determines whether a given enterprise may start up or proceed with operations in accordance with environmental requirements [Gus 1999]. The main reasons favoring the implementation of workflow at FEPAM are related to i) the dissatisfaction of management and employees concerning the performance of the Environmental Licensing process, ii) the need to add capabilities to the process and iii) the fast retrieval of information about the stage of a given Environmental Licensing process. The development of SINPLI involved several stages, analogous to those comprised in a Cascade Model Iochpe, Pressman (1995, 1995). The following text describes the approach taken for each stage.

3 During the Requirement Analysis stage, SINPLI s Project Team interviewed the sectors of the organization at length, aiming to obtain detailed knowledge of the process and its deficiencies. Because the application required access to a data base, at that point the team was divided into three: Data Base Team, Workflow Team and Change Management Team. The Data Base Team was in charge of treating the data, the Project Team captured the workflow view and the Change Management Team observed the interview and user training stages. To do so, the latter had the assistance of psychologists who investigated the cultural aspects of the organization. At the Project Stage, the Data Base Team built an Entity-Relationship Diagram (ER) and a Function Hierarchy Diagram (DHF). On its turn, the Workflow Team modeled the workflow by using the Oracle Workflow Builder. The following stages included Codifying the information and then Tests, which were run within the development environment in order to test the integrity of code when compared to the user s early requirements. When observing the development methodology used on the SINPLI Project, it can be seen that it does not explicitly contain two stages that can be fundamental in a workflow development program. Such stages are analyzing the organization structure and identifying and treating human resistance. 3. Human Resistance Within Workflow The organization culture influences the way people decide, work in groups and assess their work and that of others. When responsibilities are not clear and people perform several roles simultaneously, it is more difficult to capture and model a business process. Imposing a working standard may cause negative reactions by the employees if such standard is not compatible with the organization culture. Such reactions are manifest in many ways and become human resistance to workflow implementation. Resistance is defined by [Ferreira 1986] as the act or effect of resisting; opposition; obstacle; manner in which someone sabotages a service or activity by being unreliable to carry out its duties in a certain sector of an organization. From a Psychology viewpoint, it is understood that all forces that contribute to the stability of personality or social systems can be perceived as resistance to changes Henn and Michael (1999, 1995). The SINPLI development process allowed the identification of some techniques that can be used to minimize and treat human resistance. The coming sections give details about them. However, it should be emphasized that the purpose of this article is to report the experience gained in a real workflow application. A more generic approach will require a greater number of experiments Techniques to Identify Human Resistance The following techniques could be used to identify acts that define resistant behavior. Wave sabotaging: users present themselves publicly and formally as supporters of the cause, project or transformation. However, they seem to be worried and

4 skeptical in private conversation. Since private conversation has greater influence power than open talks, such behavior starts a negative wave. Settling down that opposes change: the change caused by the introduction of new technology creates a feeling of setting to zero the score of a game being won. Therefore, organization members tend to foster insecurity and focus on the difficulties the change will bring forth. Omitting information during the analysis stage: users hide the truth, that is, they don t say anything unless questioned. Such omission can be a result of the employees lack of knowledge about their own work. Fearing loss of power control of productivity and quality: in general, people attempt to keep the power/prestige they have by preventing the introduction of new ideas that may yield more positive effects than those of their own projects. They see all who are involved in the project as internal competition. This problem was manifest to SINPLI when attempted interviews were called off by users, mostly chief managers. Identifying resistance is a key stage for the good development of a workflow process. However, it is important that developers have the ability to minimize such resistance Techniques to Minimize Human Resistance The following techniques can be used in order to minimize emerging human resistance: Creating a Change Management Team: The Change Management Team created for SINPLI was made up of an organization psychologist and a system analyst. The Team goals were to spread the use of SINPLI at FEPAM and to develop an awareness project with general and office management in order to create support for the workflow development process; Avoiding great expectations: Great expectations can be considered a miraculous and final solution for everything that disturbs people. The earlier expectations are brought down to realistic levels, the fewer frustrations and problems there will be; Minimizing anxiety concerning the change: Anxiety should not be created before knowing what should be changed and how. This avoids creating resistance before due time; Keeping a balance of gains and losses: Think of the key people in the workflow system. Then, balance their personal gains and losses individually; Creating a computer environment: A new Division (DIS Computer and Systems Division) was created for FEPAM. This Division supported the restructuring of their computer sector. In addition, the Change Management Team developed a previous discussion and sensitization program in internal seminars, aiming to present the benefits of the workflow technology;

5 Training Program: Before starting use of the SINPLI Project, a training program raised awareness of the system. Mixed teams put users who had more knowledge of computers in contact with others who had less Techniques to Treat Human Resistance In case human resistance has already set in, some techniques can minimize its propagation or even solve it. SINPLI used the following: Addressing the causes of the conflicting behavior towards the change: the Change Management Team and the Workflow Team must check why people are reacting negatively to the change cause by the introduction of the workflow. Having analyzed it, the reasons should be addressed; Addressing the causes of regressive behavior: regressive behavior is defined as a step back in accepting the change, i.e., when working with the Change Management Team, users were in favor of implementing workflow and other changes necessary to its introduction. However, when on their own, they showed the same conflicting behavior as before. That happened in a few instances of the SINPLI development process. 4. Integrating Organization Structure Analysis as a Stage of the Workflow Development Process The organization structure sets the roles, responsibilities and distribution of activities throughout the organization Chiavenato and Mintzberg (2000, 1995). A specific kind of organization structure is defined as a set of organization features. Also, the organization structure is reflected on an organization chart that comprises the organization units and their relationship. According to Araujo and Davis (1994, 1996), organization units are, for instance, divisions, managers, helpers, departments, agencies, branches and sectors. For the purpose of this article, analyzing the organization structure means investigating the values taken by the organization features that define such structure. From that point, check which workflow aspects depend on such features. It is important to emphasize that this approach is currently being researched by us. Therefore, the topic is only presented here, but not expanded. An organization structure can be functional, divisional, hybrid, matrix-like or process-oriented [Chiavenato 1999]. Each type is determined by a set of features such as, for instance, the level of formalization in running activities of a productive process, the authority distribution, which has implications on the concentration of decisionmaking on management, and the means for communication, either written, in reports and opinions, or oral, in meetings Iochpe, Thom and Thom (2001, 2001, 2002). The ongoing research aims to analyze workflow aspects that depend on organization features. For instance, such aspects relate with: the workflow signature chain, which can be influenced by the organization s authority distribution; the means for communication, which can influence the workflow communication scheme, i.e., it is more likely the workflow will have to support the transmission of memos, opinions and reports according to the way they communicate.

6 Figure 2 has the stages that may define a workflow development process. The analysis of the organization structure is mainly linked to the stages of knowledge immersion, requirement analysis and workflow modeling. The phases Knowledge immersion, Training and Pilot were introduced in the proposed method, from the development of SINPLI. Figure 1. Workflow development methodology Table 1 presents the semantics of the stages of a workflow development process, as shown in Figure 1, which are most likely to cause emerging human resistance. It should be emphasized that no method was adopted to prevent human resistance from emerging on other stages. This mapping aims at stressing and suggesting procedures a Project Team should consider in order to minimize human resistance.

7 Table 1 Human resistance and workflow development stages Stages Knowledge immersion Requirement Analysis Workflow system modeling Training Pilot Objectives to obtain previous knowledge of the business; to make requirement analysis easier and avoid user s omitting information; to empower the Project Team with the ability to realize information omission; to make requirement analysis more objective and complete to allow detailed understanding of the business. to produce a viable workflow through which the way work is performed can be visualized, thus giving users an understanding of their roles in the system. to create a training program, aiming to form groups with less resistant users. Avoid training only top managers so that no user will feel left out by the workflow. Contrarily, the importance of each user must be emphasized; to emphasize the importance of correctly carrying out each activity to achieve the ultimate goal of the workflow, warning users of the problems arising from activity delays. to get users in touch with the workflow technology, focusing on the advantages and possibilities the workflow brings forth for the organization and for individual work as well. 5. Conclusions A workflow application can describe each activity of a business process at a concept level that facilitates the understanding and assessment of processes Leyman and Thom (2000, 2000). However, such application is placed into organizations formed by people who have a working culture and routine. Faced with this organization, workflow implementation changes the work and the way people relate. This article, based on the development of a real workflow application (SINPLI Project), has proposed the integration of organization structure analysis and the identification and treatment of human resistance as integral phases of a workflow development process. The Project Team must be aware that implementing workflow will create cultural changes on the organization and, consequently, each person affected by the change will individually evaluate his/her losses and gains concerning the success or failure of the implementation. The result of this evaluation will cause the person to support or sabotage the project. Therefore, it is important to observe change impacts constantly in order to minimize human resistance. The main contribution of this article concerns the Workflow Project Team. Considering the points under discussion, this article emphasizes that: a motivated workflow participant who likes the technology will cooperate and make a greater effort to achieve good results; the Project Team must pay special attention to the organization structure analysis stage. Learning the organization features may facilitate workflow development and increase its efficiency;

8 finally, the Project Team should take into account that one of the main aspects that make workflow successful is cooperation, which depends mostly on the participants, who are human beings with individual goals and ambitions. The approach presented in this article is currently undergoing a follow-up study regarding the organization structure analysis. That includes a thorough review of related bibliography. The next step will include the investigation of likely interferences of organization features on workflow aspects. 6. References Araujo, Luis César G. de. Organização e Métodos : Integrando comportamento, estrutura, tecnologia e estratégia. São Paulo: Atlas, 4ª ed., Chiavenato, Idalberto. Introdução à Teoria Geral da Administração. 5 ed. Rio de Janeiro: Campus, Chiavenato, Idalberto. Administração : teoria, processo e prática. 3 ed. São Paulo: Makron Books, Davis, Margaret R.; Weckler, David A. A Practical Guide To Organization Design. Boston: Crisp Publications, Ferreira, Aurélio Buarque de Holanda. Novo Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa. 2. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, Fischer, Layne. Workflow Handbook. Florida: Future Strategies Inc Gus, Ida. Relatório da Consultoria em Psicologia. Porto Alegre: SINPLI Project, p. Hehn, Herman F. Peopleware : Como Trabalhar o Fator Humano nas Implementações de Sistemas Integrados de Informação (ERP). São Paulo: Ed. Gente, Iochpe, C.; Figueiredo, Elza Marisa Paiva. Estudo das Interações Humanas no Processo de Desenvolvimento Software. In: SIMPÓSIO BRASILEIRO DE ENGENHARIA DE SOFTWARE, 9., 1995, Recife. Anais... Recife, PE: [s.n], Iochpe, Cirano; Thom, Lucinéia H.; Lopes, Filipe. Incrementando a Usabilidade de Sistemas de Workflow em Organizações: Modelagem Integrada e Redesenho de Processos de Negócio. Revista Politécnica.Gaya: Instituto Superior Politécnico de Gaya, 2001, v.4, n. 4, p , dez ISSN: Leyman, Frank; Roller, Dieter. Production Workflow : concepts and techniques. 2.nd ed. New Jersey: Prentice-Hakk, Michael, G. de. Computer Support for Cooperative Work: Computers between Users and Social Complexity. Milan: COMIC Esprit Basic Research Projetct 6255, Mintzberg, Henry. Criando Organizações Eficazes : estruturas em cinco configurações. São Paulo: Atlas, Pressman, Roger S. Engenharia de Software. São Paulo: Makron Books, Thom, Lucinéia H.; Iochpe, Cirano; GUS, Ida; VICARI, Simone. Desenvolvimento de Sistemas de Workflow Considerando Fatores Humanos e a Análise da Dinâmica

9 Organizacional. In: INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON KNOWLEGMENT MANAGEMENT / DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT, ISKM-DM, Anais... Curitiba: Universitária Champagnat, 2000, p Thom, Lucinéia H.; Iochpe, Cirano. Relying On The Organizational Structure To Model Workflow Processes. In: International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems, ICEIS, 3, Proceedings Setúbal: Escola Superior de Tecnologia de Setúbal v.2, p Thom, Lucinéia H.; Iochpe, Cirano. Inferring Aspects Of The Organizational Structure Through Workflow Process Analysis. In: International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems, ICEIS, 4, Proceedings Ciudad Real: ICEIS Press v.2, p

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