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  • Empowering End-Users to CollaborativelyStructure Processes for Knowledge Work

    Matheus Hauder1(&), Rick Kazman2, and Florian Matthes1

    1 Software Engineering for Business Information Systems,Technical University Munich, Munich, Germany{matheus.hauder,matthes}@tum.de

    2 Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University,Pittsburgh, USA

    kazman@sei.cmu.edu

    Abstract. Knowledge work is becoming the predominant type of work in manycountries and is involved in the most important processes in organizations.Despite its increasing importance business information systems still lackappropriate support for knowledge-intensive processes, since existing workflowmanagement solutions are too rigid and provide no means to deal with unpre-dictable situations. Future business information systems that attempt to improvethis support need to solve the problem of facilitating non-expert users tostructure their processes. The recently published Case Management Model andNotation (CMMN) might overwhelm non-expert users. Our research hypothesesis that end-users can be empowered to structure processes for knowledge work.In an evaluation with two student teams working on a software developmentproject our solution improved the information structure, reproducibility, pro-gress visualization, work allocation and guidance without losing the flexibilitycompared to a leading agile project management tool.

    Keywords: Knowledge-intensive processes CMMN Adaptive processes Adaptive case management Business information systems

    1 Introduction

    Globalization, digital transformation as well as an ever-increasing use of informationtechnology leads to an automation and replacement of workplaces from less skilledworkers in organizations [1]. At the same time the ability to develop innovations andconstantly adapt to changing market requirements is crucial for the sustainable successof an organization. As a result todays work environments require highly trainedexperts that can perform many complex tasks autonomously. These experts are referredto as knowledge workers and their processes have a tremendous impact on thesuccess and add the most value in organizations. Davenport describes this developmentas follows: Ive come to the conclusion that the most important processes for orga-nizations today involve knowledge work. In the past, these havent really been the focusof most organizations improving administrative and operational processes has beeneasier but they must be in future [2].

    Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015W. Abramowicz (Ed.): BIS 2015, LNBIP 208, pp. 207219, 2015.DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-19027-3_17

  • Workflow management solutions are not suitable to support these knowledge-inten-sive processes, since they are too rigid and provide no means to deal with unpredictablesituations [3]. Due to a large amount of exceptions resulting from the unpredictable natureof knowledge-intensive processes, traditional workflow management models would betoo complex to manage and maintain [4]. Support for knowledge-intensive processesrequires a balance between structured processes for repetitive steps as well as unstruc-tured processes to facilitate creative aspects that are necessary to solve complex problems[5]. Case management has been initially promoted in 2001 by Van Der Aalst and Berensas a new paradigm to support this flexibility for knowledge workers during a process [6].In contrast to workflow management which focuses on what should be done, casemanagement focuses on what can be done to achieve a business goal [7].

    The Object Management Group (OMG) issued a request for proposal (RFP) in2009 to create a standard modeling notation for case management1. The main goal ofthis request is the development of a complement for the Business Process Model andNotation (BPMN) that supports a data-centric approach which is based on businessartifacts [6, 7, 9]. In 2014 the result for this request was published as the Case Man-agement Model and Notation (CMMN) [8]. The main difference of CMMN comparedto BPMN is that it builds on a declarative instead of an imperative process model [9].These declarative process models specify what should be done without specifying howit should be done to facilitate the required flexibility for more dynamic processes [10].After the initial release of BPMN several subsets of the BPMN language were proposedby Zur Muehlen et al. [11]. Similarly, Marin et al. [12] recently proposed that futureresearch needs to identify subsets of the CMMN language that are less complex forend-users who may not have a computer science background, and who do not need tounderstand the complete CMMN specification.

    Our goal is to facilitate non-expert users to structure knowledge-intensive processes.Recent literature frequently emphasizes this challenge as knowledge worker empow-erment, which is indispensable since these processes cannot be completely predefinedby process designers but require on the fly adaptation by end-users while they are beingexecuted [5, 13, 14]. Organizations are increasingly using wikis as shared knowledgerepositories that can be used for collaborative gathering of information. We view thesewikis as promising tools for the collaborative and self-organizing structuring ofknowledge-intensive processes by end-users. Although wikis can be dynamicallyadapted to new needs, there are limitations of existing solutions and general researchchallenges for this problem:

    the notations of existing process modeling languages (e.g. CMMN) are not familiarto end-users with limited computer science background

    (lightweight) declarative process constructs like constraints for logical dependenciesbetween tasks with their linkage to data are not supported [5, 13]

    late data modeling that allows end-users to add new data to the information modelduring the process enactment is not supported [5]

    mechanisms for the collaborative documentation, adaptation and instantiation ofwork templates for recurring knowledge-intensive tasks are not supported [14].

    1 http://www.omg.org/cgi-bin/doc?bmi/09-09-23, last accessed on: 2015-01-23.

    208 M. Hauder et al.

    http://www.omg.org/cgi-bin/doc?bmi/09-09-23

  • 2 Related Work

    Templates facilitate the reuse of content on wiki pages that can be used for the explicitorganizational knowledge creation (and sharing) in an organization [16, 17]. In theDarwin Wiki a template consists of types, attributes, and tasks that are collaborativelyadded by end-users. These templates are used to structure and reuse knowledge-intensive processes and our goal is to make adaptations of these templates as easy aspossible for end-users without computer science background. The Semantic Media-Wiki is a prominent project that enables users to structure page content on top of anexisting wiki with templates [15]. This tool also includes mechanisms for searching,browsing, and aggregating content through queries. Our approach differs from theSemantic MediaWiki since it supports the creation of tasks that can have logicaldependencies and assigned attributes to guide knowledge-intensives processes.Furthermore, our solution provides a template mechanism with roles that can be usedto restrict access rights for attributes and tasks, which is often inevitable in an orga-nizational context.

    The Organic Data Science Wiki (ODSW) extends the Semantic MediaWiki withnew user interface features to support open science processes [18]. The ODSW focuseson scientific collaborations which revolve around complex science questions thatrequire significant coordination, enticing contributors to remain engaged for extendedperiods of time, and continuous growth to accommodate new contributors. All userinterface features in the ODSW are based on social design principles and observed bestpractice patterns from successful online communities. These features include tasks thatare attached to wiki pages and can be decomposed into smaller subtasks. Every user inthe ODSW has his own profile page with all allocated tasks that are structured along thetime dimension, e.g., currently active tasks, future tasks and completed tasks. Semanticproperties of the Semantic MediaWiki can be used to describe data elements that areattached to tasks. Although there are some commonalities with the usage of socialdesign principles and patterns for successful online communities, the solution presentedin this paper provides important functionalities for the structuring of knowledge-intensive processes that are missing in the ODSW. Our approach provides more fine-grained access rights, declarative process model constructs for tasks dependencies andreusable work templates.

    Voigt et al. [19] detail application oriented use cases for structured wikis and takethe ICKEwiki as an example. In their work the authors mentioned that the presen-tation of (role-based) tasks within the structured wiki seems to be an important featureto adequately display processes. The solution proposed with the ICKEwiki containssimple procedural steps. We extend this approach by taking into account dependenciesbetween tasks and more sophisticated roles, e.g., skip and delegate roles. In addition tothese aspects, the solution presented in this paper also proposes and implements asubset of the CMMN standard. In previous work [20] we proposed the Hybrid Wiki toallow users to collaboratively structure information. This paper builds on the experi-ences of the Hybrid Wiki and extends it with new structuring concepts for tasks,

    Empowering End-Users to Collaboratively Structure Processes 209

  • complex information structure hierarchies, new user interface concepts, more detailedrole concepts for content as well as a declarative process model integrated with a subsetof CMMN to support knowledge-intensive processes.

    Case management can be disting

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