Modelling and Implementing Pre-built Information Spaces.
Architecture and Methods for Process Oriented Knowledge Management
(University of Leipzig, Institute of Computer Science, Leipzig/Germany
(Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, Stuttgart/Germany
(University of Leipzig, Institute of Computer Science, Leipzig/Germany
(Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, Stuttgart/Germany
(University of Applied Sciences Kufstein Tirol, Kufstein/Austria
Abstract: Process-oriented Knowledge Management aims to
provide adequate information for employees, especially in weakly
structured and information-intensive business processes. Beside a
technical software solution, which uses a pre-structured,
context-aware and collaborative information space that combines
processes, domain specific semantic structures and document parts,
this requires a methodology to model the process and other
context-dimensions, such as roles. Moreover, a guideline and clear
service modules are necessary to introduce process-oriented Knowledge
Management in companies, especially in small and medium-sized
enterprises (SME). Such solutions were developed in the cooperative
research project PreBIS (Pre-Built Information
Key Words: modelling method, introduction method, context-awareness,
information retrieval, ontology, collaborative filtering, business processes,
Category: H.3, H.4, I.2.4, I.2.7, I.7, J.1
Process-oriented Knowledge Management strives to align the fields of
Knowledge Management with the domain of business process management in
order to support knowledge-intensive business processes during their execution.
The applied research project "Pre Built Information Space" (PreBIS)
is a cooperative research and development project that follows the concept
of closely aligning information sources to the value creating processes
within an organisation.
In the understanding of this contribution we follow the definition of
[Probst et. al. (03)], which defines knowledge as
the application of appropriate information by human beings in a given situation.
The PreBIS-project tries to support this process within a company setting
by structuring and filtering the information. Relevant information supports
activities within knowledge-intensive business processes and requires sound
information to make meaningful decisions. Therefore, the PreBIS-system
is an IT-based Knowledge Management System that supports knowledge-intensive
operational business processes. Such processes (e.g. product development
and marketing) are usually weakly structured, which means they consist
of only a few distinguishable activities and have a high variability during
The basic idea of PreBIS (see [Fähnrich, Böhm
03], [Hoof et. al. 03]), as illustrated below
in figure 1, is to provide knowledge-intensive activities
with information from both internal and external sources by dynamically
aligning them to a leading business process. Throughout this paper this
concept, resembling a "cloud of relevant information around each activity"
will be referred to as an information space. Since this structure
is created using manual modelling methods as well as automatic analysis
techniques for unstructured information prior to the usage within the system
the term pre-built is used to emphasize our approach.
Figure 1: Aligning information sources to a knowledge-intensive
business process using role- and task-specific contexts
Furthermore, the information space exhibits properties of adaptation
and collaboration by exploiting the concept of context, which describes
the current situation of a certain employee in the execution of a certain
activity within a certain business process. Context in this meaning should
reflect a part of the organisational knowledge and describe how information
provision works in the company as a whole in contrast to the capabilities
of the individual user. The contextual situation is described as a tuple
of a role and an activity that is maintained by the leading business process.
A more detailed description of context for the domain of information management
will be given in section 5. This context information
will be used to adjust the information space dynamically, depending on
the information needs. Feedback will be obtained as the user interacts
with the PreBIS-system. This data will be aggregated and used to readjust
the components of the information space and their relationships with each
Over time the information space therefore adapts to typical usage patterns
(property of adaptation by means of collaborative filtering). Since all
operations on the information space are carried out at the level of organisational
roles, which each individual user is assigned to while executing a process
activity, the PreBIS-system implements a collaborative system. This system
enables the users to cooperate implicitly within groups with similar information
needs while explicitly interacting with the information space on an individual
level. The information space can thus be seen as a collaborative knowledge
store for experiences gained when looking for the needed information.
Primarily PreBIS is an IT-system that enables the effective and efficient
management of information in organisations, for example by intelligent
adaptation and combination of ontologies (modelling top-down concepts)
and networks of terms (automatic bottom-up analysis) [Hoof
et. al. 03]. In addition to the technical realisation, methodological
solutions were developed to support the notion of pre-building for information
spaces: First, a method is needed to model the context that consists of
process, roles, ontologies and information request types. Second, a guideline
and precise service modules are necessary to introduce process-oriented
Knowledge Management in companies, especially in small and medium-sized
enterprises (SME) that do not have specialized management capacities to
implement such systems.
The paper is structured as follows: section 2 investigates
what has been done already by investigating related work and research activities
within the field of process-oriented Knowledge Management. Section
3 addresses the current situation within companies and gathers the
demands from users with a focus on SME. In section 4
research objectives and goals are defined based on the observations of
the current situation. A description of the prototypical software solution
that has been developed will follow in section 5. The
modelling technique for constructing the initial information space (pre-building
strategy) will be the topic of the next section, which then will be followed
by an explanation of the methodology for introducing the PreBIS-solution
in a company based on flexible service modules in section
7. The conclusion in section 8 summarizes the results
and gives an outlook on challenges within the field of business process
oriented knowledge infrastructures that will require further research.
2 Related Work
Information management which adapts to a context and is aligned with
business processes is becoming more and more relevant in industrial applications
(see e.g. [Schütt 04], [Schomisch,
Hoffmann 04]). The practical use is based on a broad range of scientific
approaches to process-oriented Knowledge Management; an overview is given
in [Remus 02]. The difference of the PreBIS-approach
compared to this related work is discussed with regard to the two methodological
aspects of the paper, the modelling and the introduction of process-oriented
Knowledge Management. Related work, relevant for the PreBIS-projects can
be found in different fields which are discussed briefly below:
- Knowledge Management: Business processes can be used to structure
organisational knowledge and available information sources. In relation
to these processes, the core activities of Knowledge Management are modelled,
especially generation, storage, distribution, and use of knowledge.
Additionally, measures are defined to introduce leadership, information
technology, enterprise culture, controlling, and organisation (e.g. Fraunhofer
IPK, see [Mertins et. al. 03]). This approach uses
processes to structure Knowledge Management, while PreBIS aims to support
the processes themselves with adequate information.
- Organisational Memory: Business process can also be used as
a guideline to integrate software. Based on a generic software architecture,
the organisational memory is represented, among others, by the business
processes and allows to model and introduce a comprehensive concept of
IT-integrated work (see, for example [Abecker et. al.
02]). The PreBIS-system does not intend to combine company specific
software applications, but instead to make the information from different
sources available and attach them dynamically to the currently executed
- Information Logistics is driven by the idea to represent adequate
information in the right place and time with the appropriate medium. Specific
solutions for the user in business processes are, for example, realised
for emergency hospitals and for journalists at sport events (e.g. Fraunhofer
ISST, see [Kamphusmann 01]). The PreBIS-concepts
follow a more general approach and are less specific to individual settings.
Therefore, a more elaborated modelling and introduction method is necessary
to customize the solution for a specific usage scenario.
- Adoption of Workflows: Weakly structured knowledge-intensive
business processes are hardly definable in a detailed enough way to feed
workflow engines or to implement software solutions. For individualised
instances of processes, some workflow-oriented solutions, such as [Elst
et. al. 03], are going to allow the user to model or change a process
on demand during the process realisation itself. PreBIS models on a more
abstract level and does not need runtime-changes because the process is
only used to specify the context of information retrieval but not to steer
the process itself.
- Automated Information Extraction and Structuring: Due to fast
changes in knowledge-intensive processes, complex information structuring
is limited, and spontaneous flexible methods are needed in addition. Inspired
by agile software development processes, it is intended to use automated
methods and decision logics to allow an information supply that is adequate
for the dynamics of information sources and tasks with a minimum effort
to introduce such a system (an overview is given in [Holz
et. al. 03]). The PreBIS methods aim to find the level of modelling
which is abstract enough to have fewer changes, and where the information
supply can be organised in a more stable way.
- Modelling of Knowledge Flows: Generation and demand of knowledge
in processes can be visualised with the tool K-Modeler, among other things,
to identify weak points in process-related Knowledge Management and to
bring people together [Gronau, Weber 04]. The demand
aspect is important for PreBIS in order to specify information requests,
and generation can be used to specify pre-existing know-how of the user.
Although the focus of PreBIS is clearly on IT-based solutions for supporting
the use of information objects and not so much on the direct contact between
employees, the modelling approach is still useful to PreBIS for the implementation
of generic operations on the objects in the pre-built information space.
- User Modelling: Role based presentation of content modules is
also relevant in E-Learning. User modelling is helpful to create content
and to distribute it, to track users and adapt the system, and also to
introduce E-Learning in a more personalised way (see [Schmidt,
Winterhalter 04], [Flor 04]1). For
flexible information systems in general, [Suessmilch-Walther
03] describes and applies a multi-dimensional role orientation. The
PreBIS-system models the user in its role within the business processes,
and during the introduction given role models of the company can be used
and possibly specified further. During the use, PreBIS presents information
according to the role-specific ontology, with the learning algorithm being
role-oriented as well. Thus a collaborative information space is build
up, whose construction was inspired by the E-Learning experiences.
The approaches discussed above emphasise either organisational or technical
solutions. However, they all stress the necessity of adaptation to a changing
context, which is important for the modelling. They also stress the need
to reduce effort for the system introduction, which is a relevant factor
for the implementation method. All these approaches have some influence
on the PreBIS methods. A difference is the level of abstraction where PreBIS
aims to find a company specific solution based on a general framework but
does not get too much into permanently changing details.
Inspired by the academic discussion, and based on existing products,
some software solutions also realise several aspects of context-oriented
information supply today. In Enterprise or Employee Portals, a role and
task-based view on available information is presented (see [Gurzki,
Özkan 2003]). Often this concentrates on editorially created content
but integration of weakly structured content is realised more and more
often. Such portal management solutions range from personalised entertainment
platforms to project cooperation tools. The functionalities are widely
influenced by the background of a product, such as document management,
information retrieval, application integration and content management [Eberhardt
et. al. 02]. PreBIS aims to offer technical solutions that goes, at
least in form of prototypes, beyond existing products, which also requires
further steps in modelling and introduction methods.
3 Challenges and Requirements for Process Oriented
Information Management in Companies
The availability of digital information is quite common in many companies.
Presentations, documents, manuals, analysis, correspondence and other relevant
information which can be understood as codified knowledge is stored on
file servers, in the intranet, in special applications or CRM-, ERP- and
Document Management Systems. The internet and external databases are frequently
used sources of information, too. A central challenge is the efficient
retrieval in these distributed and often weakly structured data. This is
especially relevant for employees with knowledge-intensive tasks who need
to search for different kinds of information regularly, such as product
managers, sales persons, editors, engineers and consultants.
1For other papers on this
issue see www.jusc.org, volume 10 (2004),
Such knowledge-intensive processes regularly require consultations with
internal and external partners. Also an individual user might search for
information at changing level of detail, according to the progress within
the business process. Furthermore users might also present their findings
to other people with their different roles and views in mind. Therefore
it is a high-ranked concern of information managers to retrieve good answers
even on vague information requests. In addition, there is a demand to find
information from different internal and external sources, but to also find
indications on the information accuracy and reliability [Engelbach,
Delp 03]. In PreBIS, the roles must not be fixed to the user; instead
a person should be able to shift between views on the information space.
Some of the most crucial problems with information management in companies
are, for example, high costs for the manual creation and maintenance of
knowledge structures, the inability of automatic adoption to changing usage
patterns and the complex modification of underlying information collections
(e.g. in case of growing content or content topic shifts). PreBIS addresses
these challenges by its approach not to change the existing setting of
information generating and storing, but to optimise retrieval and use of
information with the support of context. In the PreBIS project, automatic
combination of concepts (high level knowledge structures activated from
the context) and topics (extracted from the underlying document collection)
is used. Starting with information requests from a specified context and
using feedback information from the presented results, the system is able
to rank the relevance of activated concepts and topics regarding to the
request, the personal context, and the process. This continuous evaluation
improves the processes and knowledge infrastructure by adapting to typical
Information retrieval is often understood as an individual, independent,
short term search process. Large link lists to entire documents are narrowed
down manually to a manageable set of possibly matching results. PreBIS
is going to ease the retrieval processes by bearing in mind contextual
aspects that are omnipresent within organisations. In addition, the types,
the granularities and the amount of requested information often rely on
the context: employees may look for technical issues, for administrative
issues, for abstracts or detailed specifications [Zagos,
Kiehne 03]. Moreover, some basic collaborative types of process oriented
information handling are defined to support the exchange and collaborative
use of information objects (see section 5).
A number of similarities were discovered in six medium-sized companies
by investigating the possible support of information-intensive business
processes with an IT-System like PreBIS: Such processes (e.g. product development
and marketing) are usually weakly structured, seldom well and never formalised-documented.
Many different software applications (e.g. Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange,
Content Management and Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource
Planning, Fileserver, Intranet) are used, but a central process execution
system is missing. Knowledge Management is often associated with Intranet,
and the person in charge of the intranet is often the main knowledge manager.
This is also the bottom line and starting point for modelling and introduction.
Business process-oriented knowledge infrastructures follow a complex
approach that is based on some conditions, such as stable and ideally modelled
business processes. Since formal specifications of business processed are
often missing in SME, it might impose another barrier to start with Business
Process-oriented Knowledge Infrastructures.
PreBIS tries to overcome this aspect by incorporating automatic methods
for knowledge extraction and structuring. It turned out, that formalized
business processes (as well as ontologies) in medium-sized companies are
less determined than initially assumed, especially in information intensive
processes. Therefore, to base knowledge management on processes, one first
needs to implement a basic process management including process descriptions,
process managers and performance indicators. Such an initial description
and the continuous update of process description can be understood as a
main element of knowledge collection. Furthermore, any process infrastructure
can be used as an element of knowledge infrastructure; strong support is
given by any database (e.g. customer relation management systems, KAIZEN-Tools,
intranets and so on). Preconditions of utilisation of such tools as knowledge
infrastructure are the wide acceptance amongst employees and the promotion
by the management.
Nevertheless, there are some aspects that distinguish the companies,
especially regarding the homogeneity of wording and concepts (ontological
or terminological issues): in some companies different concepts for the
same objects are used within the same department, in others there is a
strict internal wording and a different corporate wording for external
communication exist, a third company might use an established industry
wording. Also the role descriptions vary, from simple to much elaborated
models. The PreBIS methods must cope with these variations.
4 Research Objectives
This section introduces some research objectives extracted from the
current situation (see section 1) and the demands of
companies with respect to the use of business process oriented knowledge
infrastructures (see section 3). Goals for the project
PreBIS are derived and will be presented afterwards.
Weakly structured but knowledge intensive processes, such as product
development, innovation management or marketing activities would benefit
most from a business process supportive knowledge infrastructure. Weakly
structured processes differ from well structured process in terms of number
of influencing factors such as target dates, number and education of involved
employees, quality and character of produced products or services, and
so on. Still, the support of weakly structured processes requires a highly
sophisticated infrastructure like IT systems, which only pays for a big
number of concurrent process instances. Nevertheless, there is a lack of
powerful process-supporting tools for the support of business processes,
which are easy to implement and easy to maintain. Therefore alternative
solutions have to be proposed that allow smaller solutions to be built,
that are also suitable for SME.
The design and implementation of a knowledge infrastructure, according
to the demands of business process models, will support the work of most
companies throughout their value chain as shown in the previous section.
The ongoing work shows that even companies with highly sophisticated organisations
hardly have the necessary preparation at their disposal (e.g. process descriptions,
glossaries, or ontologies). PreBIS therefore embarks on the strategy of
an automated information extraction and recombination. This approach will
disburden the employees from complex process-oriented knowledge documentation
and will therefore support the basic Knowledge Management operations by
fostering information documentation as well as information communication
during information searches within internal and external information repositories.
PreBIS does not aim to change the existing setting of information generation
and storage, but to optimise the way it can be accessed and used by utilizing
the retrieval context as a filter function. The PreBIS-solution instead
intends to support the processes with adequate information (alignment of
process activities and relevant information). Ideally, such context information
is delivered by process driven IT-Systems, but in reality this will often
need to be modelled within the system. Therefore the PreBIS methods of
modelling the specific context are at a level that is abstract enough to
allow a stable organisation of the information supply.
PreBIS does not intend to combine company specific software applications,
but to make the information from different sources available instead. The
information retrieval does not steer the process itself but specifies the
request and uses the answer. The types, the granularities and the amount
of requested information are specified according to the context: employees
may look for technical issues, for administrative issues, for abstracts
or detailed specifications.
The focus of PreBIS is clearly on IT-based solutions and not so much
on supporting the direct contact between employees. PreBIS models the user
in its role within the business processes and then presents information
according the role-specific ontology. Also the learning algorithm is role-oriented.
Users are not fixed to roles but are able to shift between role-based views
on the information space. The PreBIS approach is not made specifically
for single companies but looks for individual solutions based on a general
Beside the technical solution, many organisational aspects needed to
be tackled to realise a holistic approach and ease the implementation in
a company setting. This contribution describes the two major aspects modelling
and introduction, which are needed for an appropriate business model (see
The alignment of process activities, carried out by an employee in a
certain organisational role, with relevant information in this context
will be primarily realised by the use of the information space model. This
data structure can be interpreted as an accessing structure or map that
works like glue between activity and information. Since information spaces
are employed at the level of organisational roles, not individual users,
they can be used as a joint knowledge memory that will aid communities
to exchange experiences explicitly. Moreover, basic operations can be defined
that work on these information or knowledge objects within the contextualized
information space to utilize sharing of concepts and shaping of the networked
structure during its use.
4.1 Goals and Concepts of PreBIS ry
Among the challenges in the area of Knowledge Management, the creation
and maintenance of structured information spaces is a central topic. PreBIS
follows a new approach for the growing field of data driven knowledge acquisition
and dissemination. The technical system PreBIS puts the focus on the following
three areas of innovation:
- Using contextual information from an underlying value creating business
process to provide the professional user with the right information
at the right time and thus aligning needed information along with the process
activities. The challenges in this area are twofold. On the one hand, obtaining
the necessary contextual information (roles and current activities of a
user) from a control system for business processes (such as a workflow
management system), on the other hand bridging the gap between business
processes as an abstract (high level) model and the actual executed processes
(finely grained, often augmented with additional or implied activities).
- Combining manual and automatic approaches for the structuring of
knowledge domains to enable fast bootstrapping of information spaces
from large document collections. The information space will be overlaid
by a more abstract layer of explicit domain knowledge of relevant concepts
and their relations modelled by experts. Both strategies are extensively
studied in the literature; our focus is put on building a compound structure.
This construction combines the two layers with different levels of abstraction
and weights the relevance of the concepts and relations depending on the
current context (role and activity of the user).
- The automatic adaptation of the generated knowledge structures
as they are explored and used by professionals with similar information
needs. These users typically belong to the same or a similar process task
or role profile of the underlying business process. We will observe and
exploit user interactions with the system to provide a dynamic information
space that will act as a collective knowledge repository. The participating
people with similar needs and interests will therefore benefit from a central
interpretation of individual retrieval acts but do not necessarily need
to cooperate explicitly or know each other.
5 The Architecture of the PreBIS-System
This section introduces the architecture of the PreBIS-system. A modular
approach is used to reduce the complexity of the system and will be described
in the next subsection. Afterwards, the phase-model that is utilized to
guide the pre-building process of the information space is explained and
leads to the description of the PreBIS-kernel. It represents the core of
the system and serves as the implementation of the concept of an information
space. Special attention is paid to the dynamic coupling of the kernel
to business processes which serve as provider of context information and
are therefore crucial for the configuration of the information space. Finally,
basic operations on the information space are described, which can be interpreted
as generic interactions on information objects within a collaborative knowledge
5.1 PreBIS Modules
The PreBIS-architecture, which has been developed in a joint research
project, can be understood as a model with interdependent layers that enclose
each other and lead to the idea of a shell metaphor, as illustrated in
figure 2. The shell model consists of three major layers.
The Outer Shell is concerned with business strategies and decision
about business goals and the organisational environment.
Therefore this layer outlines the prerequisites for the modelled structure
in business processes and information models, also referred to as ontologies,
for a certain enterprise [Ngonga, Fähnrich 03].
Together with these models, the information logistic has to be adjusted
to these business processes. Information logistic will be understood in
this contribution as an abstract formal description about which information
or knowledge is necessary for whom at which set of activities along a certain
Figure 2: The shell model with three interdependent layers
of PreBIS-modules, enclosing each other
The process of building an ontology can be supported with a collection
of relevant terms from the vocabulary used within the company. Such a glossary
subsumes the domain specific terminology and can be used as a reference
document to capture conceptual knowledge. Such knowledge can be gained
by analysing documents and data from file systems, data bases and other
IT-applications used in the different company departments. Especially,
when large volumes of data are concerned, a support of this process by
automatic methods should be used to extract lists of important terms, which
then can be used by consultants and domain experts to build up the information
logistic that is aligned to the business process. A method overview of
a knowledge strategy process for analysing and structuring business knowledge
in enterprises is given in [Hofer-Alfeis 02].
The Middle Shell addresses technology constraints and specifications
in order to connect components modelled in the business layer with the
PreBIS-kernel functions. It primarily realises the embedding of the PreBIS-system
in the IT-environment and in the operational workflow of the enterprise.
This integration links the PreBIS-system to existing information sources,
but is also responsible for the common set of commodity functions of a
typical Information- or Knowledge Management System, such as security and
rights management. Thus, the functions of this module can be subjected
to the area of Enterprise Application Integration.
The Core, also referred to as the PreBIS-kernel, extends established
technologies and standards and implements a new method for information
spaces that combines semantic technologies (top-down approach and semi
automatically modelled; producing business processes and ontologies) with
statistical methods of information extraction (bottom-up and automatically
derived; generating taxonomies and classifications). The resulting structure
is overlaid with an adaptive context filtering mechanism to realise a role-
and task-oriented operations (e.g. Information Retrieval and Exploration).
The basic functionality of the core is to deliver fine grained pieces
of information to the user while respecting his current information demand
which is derived a from context. Thus it is supporting the knowledge worker
while carrying out information intensive tasks and can be classified as
an operational IT-based Knowledge Management System.
5.2 A Phase-Model for Pre-Building and Using PreBIS
The creation of the information space depends on the right interpretation
of the context from the leading business process which describes the information
need of the user. Such context information is often implicit and specific
for a certain role and activity and can therefore not be determined fully
at the runtime of the system. But since the needed structural data can
be found in formal business process models, job descriptions, role profiles
etc., this data can be used to build up the information space before its
utilisation (thus, the name pre-built information space). A phase model
with an initial construction phase and a usage phase is proposed for the
composition information spaces (see also [Böhm,
Fähnrich 03]). As illustrated in figure 3, the phase model consists
of three successive stages: Structure, Fill and Use
(following the model of [Staab et. al. 01] for the
creation and maintenance of ontologies).
Figure 3: The successive stages of the phase-model for pre-building
adaptive information spaces
Structuring the information space in the initial phase is the main task
in the business layer according to the shell metaphor. A large challenge
is to pre-structure knowledge as a basic part of a knowledge repository
[Davenport, Völpel 02], organisational memory
[Habermann 01] or an information space [Hoof
et. al. 03]. The business processes are the most important components
with a focus on knowledge-intensive tasks, since information provision
has to be aligned along with process activities, as explained before.
Therefore the processes have to be modelled or re-modelled with respect
to the kind of data and the information source needed, as well as the information
flow between different activities of the process. Since typically more
than one participant can be involved in the flow of the business process
or the assignment to a task, individual profiles are grouped to organisational
roles, which share a common part of expertise, responsibility and knowledge
demand. Expert interviews with representatives of each role must be held
in order to capture role specific explicit knowledge in a role-specific
ontology. An ontology therefore reflects the view of a group of knowledge
workers of relevant objects in the enterprise. This "view of the world"
represents a common understanding in terms of concepts and their relationships,
domain specific terminology (e.g. technical jargon), environment, methods,
authorities etc. Different role-specific ontologies mirror different views
on the company.
For example, a business manager in a chip producing company is interested
in features and solutions or predictions about a new microprocessor. In
contrast the technical officer rather needs information about manufacturing
techniques, physical limits and new technologies. Both have different approaches
to the same physical object (the microchip).
It is important to point out, that the role-specific ontologies are
linked to business processes, more precisely; each knowledge-intensive
activity is bound to task-relevant concepts, thus, providing direction
signs, markers and annotations to ease the task of information retrieval
as well as navigation within the data sources. The methodology to build
up the information space is described in section 6.
Whereas the capturing of explicit knowledge and organisational structures
is a manual top-down modelling approach, the analysis of content from the
various information sources can be supported by automatic methods, which
employ a button-up approach. Such a bottom-up structure is created by analysing
all documents and defined data sources that the PreBIS-System should provide
access to in the usage phase. The output of this statistical motivated
algorithm (see [Biemann et. al. 04] for a detailed
description) is a companywide role-independent network of related terms,
or termnet. This graph-like data structure can be interpreted as
a machine-readable thesaurus, which can be generated automatically from
arbitrary sources of unstructured information. It contains statistically
significant word forms (terms) as nodes and relates them (as weighted edges)
according to the frequency of co-occurrences on sentence-level and direct
neighbourhood within the text. The termnet can be used to represent a contextual
word meaning in the PreBIS-kernel, which will be described below, and to
assist the conceptual modelling of the domain ontologies (see section
6). Since the approach operates by means of statistical algorithms
attention must also be paid to the number of documents available (the more,
the better) and the document formats of the structured or unstructured
data, which has to be converted prior to the analysis process.
The Fill stage started after the Structure phase populates
the information space with the information object that will be retrieved
from internal information sources. The documents are broken up into smaller
content objects also called assets, according to the syntactical
structure of the document. The disassembling process yields atomic items
like single sentences or paragraphs that can be assumed to contain a semantic
assertion. Content objects are therefore semantically more compact information
units, compared to whole documents. Providing content objects yield the
advantage of a more efficient transmission since they are usually smaller
Furthermore since the user does not need to search within the document
for the right section to satisfy his information demand, information provision
will be more precisely, too. Finally, automatic reporting will be easier,
as content object from different documents can be assembled into a new
document that reflects the search question.
For example, as a search result the business manager gets five hits.
One hit is an 80-page document but instead of having to download the large
document, he will get as a response a content object containing only the
appropriate paragraph. Here the user recognizes two advantages: the client-application
(e. g. the web browser) loads the content object notably faster and there
is no need to search again in the 80-page document.
The content objects are stored in the data layer. The last step in the
Fill stage is indexing the domain of content objects with a search
engine to guarantee an efficient retrieval. After the completion of the
Fill-phase the information space is pre-modelled (business processes,
information flow and ontologies as well as adaptors to internal and external
information sources) and pre-structured (company-wide documents
and data are analysed, broken up into context units and indexed) and ready
for use. During the usage phase, implicit and explicit feedback information
will be collected that affects the previous stages as illustrated by the
arrows in Figure 3 and thus realises an adaptive information
5.3 Architecture of the PreBIS-Kernel
The PreBIS-System is implemented as a client-server application with
a web-application as front-end for the user. Therefore no client-side installation
will be required and the application can be accessed in the intranet of
the company or even on the internet, if secure communication channels are
used. The PreBIS-kernel itself is implemented as a module that can be embedded
into another Information Management System (Middle shell) and communicates
with other components using standard protocols, such as Web Services.
This section will describe the core functions of the PreBIS-kernel and
demonstrate the handling of a request sent by a knowledge worker using
the PreBIS-system. Before describing the different layers of the core-system,
shown in figure 4, a definition of the concept context
will be given, as it plays a central role for the functionality of the
system. Finally, it will be explained how a business process can be used
as a context provider for the PreBIS-kernel.
5.3.1 A Definition of Context
In order to provide a user which is executing an activity within a business
process with the right information the PreBIS-kernel should receive the
information about the current context of the business process, referred
to as business context. With the business context the kernel can
make a prediction even if the user does not send an explicit search request.
As there are many definitions on the term context in the literature, a
clarification is needed about the use in this contribution: What is context
and, in particular, business context, and where does the context comes
from? Within the project the following definition will be used:
Context is a set of facts (environment variables, identifiers, notations
etc.) or a special case (competences or an actual state) that describes
a situation or an event in a way to make it interpretable. Three types
of context are distinguished:
- static context: roles and tasks of a business process and the
depending information such as ontologies or semantic networks
- dynamic context: things or parts a user can change (e. g. utilities,
devices, resources for solving a task, search terms and strategies)
- organisational context: time-based, social behaviour and the
background of a person or a group in an organisation (experience, qualification,
responsibility, didactics) as well as the local infrastructure [Delp,
The business context corresponds to static context and has four parameters:
the process name, the role of the user, the active task and (optional)
additional information from the process instance.
Figure 4: Architecture overview of the PreBIS-kernel and
dynamic coupling to the business process execution system
5.4 Functionality of the PreBIS-Kernel
The main function of the PreBIS-kernel is the contextual information
provision according to the active task of a knowledge worker. The dynamics
of the information space emerges from the collaboration on a role-specific
level and over the coupling to the business context. Adaptability is another
feature implemented in the kernel. It uses learning algorithms on the information
space data structure to apply the usage information gathered by explicit
and implicit feedback mechanisms.
Current Information Retrieval Systems enable users to find information
in large collections of information sources. A Search query is formulated
by the user to specify his information demand. Several query languages
exit, but often keywords or simple phrases can be used to start a search
process. This search strategy, also called Pull-Strategy requires the user
to actively search for information. The PreBIS-System implements a Pull-Strategy
too, but in addition to that it can also provide information by exploiting
the current business context, thus realising a Push-Strategy, too. Since
context changes can be automatically sent to the PreBIS-System, an appropriate
information provision can be realised without the need for an explicit
The information about the current business context will be routed to
the ontology layer (layer 1 in figure 4). The first
layer encapsulates methods which gather information from the correlated
business process (process name or correlation ID are part of the business
context) and the referenced role-dependant ontology. Thus, the ontology
layer extracts the relevant concepts from that ontology. If no query was
sent by the user, the kernel can operate on the concepts that were activated
by the business context. Assuming the PreBIS-server received a query from
the client, the kernel continues to extend it to a search string which
contains the search phrase with the relevant and weighted concepts in a
At this point we should once more consider our example mentioned above.
The business manager (role of the user) needs information about the new
microprocessor and has sent the query string "chip_xyz". The
ontology layer extends the given query to "<chip_xyz> <product
information> <export transaction>", because its current activity
in the business process is the innovation of the international sales and
distribution. This modified query will be sent to the adaptation layer.
The adaptation layer (layer 2 in figure 4) is maintaining
connections between the concepts from the ontology layer and the terms
found in the termnet (layer 3 in figure 4). These connections are associated
with a weight that reflects the relevance of the associated terms for to
a concept. The initial weights will be set using a semi-automatic method
(see [Fillies et. al. 03]); a learning algorithm
will later be used to adjust the weights according to the usage patterns
of concepts and term. The concepts from the ontology layer and the relations
between them were modelled top-down under role-dependant constraints. In
contrast, the termnet was built bottom-up automatically, based mainly on
the document collection within the company. It is not role-dependant. These
connections are strengthened or weakened depending on explicit feedback
from users and additional heuristics (implicit feedback). The longer the
PreBIS-System is used, the better the connections are adjusted to typical
usage pattern. As for the search string " <chip_xyz> <product
information> <export transaction>": the right connection
will be picked for each phrase. These connections are used to expand the
search string with more words, e. g. "<sales volume>, <product
dimensions>, <export manager>" from the termnet. After that,
the termnet layer must run a special function called spread activation.
This function will check each phrase of the search string against the termnet
to look up words within certain distance boundaries. This way, the function
can retrieve words, which may be synonyms, homonyms or hyponyms etc. to
the given phrase.
The major task of the lowest layer (layer 4 in figure
4) in the architecture is to provide prerequisites for the search string
to conduct the search process by an embedded third party search engine.
The search will be performed on the content objects and added external
5.5 Linking the PreBIS-Kernel to the Business Processes
There are (at least) two ways for answering the question about the origin
of the context information and how it can be obtained by the PreBIS-kernel.
The simpler solution is a so called Process Stepper, which is a small application
that runs on the client-side along with the PreBIS-client or as an integrated
application. A more extensive scenario incorporates the use of a Process
Control System (PCS) or a Workflow System such as Microsoft BizTalk. Both
of them have to interact with the PreBIS-System over a web service using
SOAP and both have to interpret the business process modelled during the
Structure stage. The method the web service implements expects the four
parameters of a business context mentioned above; the role and the task
parameter being the most important ones.
5.5.1 Process Stepper
The Process Stepper is an application that provides a stepwise execution
of a business process that can be used in small enterprises that do not
have a process execution system to structure their knowledge intensive
activities into a more process oriented fashion. In addition to that, the
Process Stepper can be used to simuqlate and test the behaviour of the
PreBIS-System without an extensive IT-environment.
To be used, the application must be started and configured by the user.
The unique parameter needed to configure the web service interface is the
URL of the PreBIS-server. He must then load the business process from the
process repository of the company. Afterwards, the user can step through
the business process in the given sequence. With each new step the Process
Stepper sends the new context information to the PreBIS-kernel.
The disadvantage of this solution is the need to manually confirm each
completed task because changing one value of the context vector (process,
role, task, add_info) causes a new business context, which must be sent
to the PreBIS-System to re-adjust the information space.
5.5.2 Process Control System
This subsection describes a more elaborated solution that can be used
in larger enterprises with a complex IT-structure embedding numerous application
systems that interact with each other. For productivity and control flow
purposes often a PCS (e. g. Microsoft BizTalk) is used. Alternatively,
an Enterprise Resource Planning System can be used to impose the control
flow. In either case two facts are essential: It must be the leading system
from the viewpoint of the user and it must support a superset of Business
Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS) standard [Curbera
et al. 03].
The business processes modelled in the Structure stage cannot
be read by such a PCS. Without adding information that declares the PreBIS-System
as a new communication partner, no information about the current business
context can be sent to it. These special activities are called context
hooks and will be configured to link the PreBIS-server at run-time
in order to be able to send the context information before a new activity
is started. In contrast to the smaller scenario above, the first parameter
here is not the process name but the correlation ID, to identify the right
process instance. Since the necessary transformation can be done automatically,
no additional modelling effort is introduced. A description that performs
this transformation can be found in [Böhm, Härtwig
Provided that the PCS is able to process-models that confirm to the
BPEL4WS-standard, they can also execute the transformed business processes
and therefore establish a dynamic communication link with the PreBIS-System
that transmits the business context information to the PreBIS-kernel.
5.6 Basic Operations for the Information Space
In addition to the classical information retrieval process (keyword
based search) and the navigation within the information space (explorative
search) the PreBIS project elaborated how the cooperation between communities
of users with similar interests could be further supported in the area
of business process oriented knowledge infrastructures. Typical questions
that arise in this environment are: How can the PreBIS-System directly
support users during their work and how can the PreBIS-System improve cooperation
between users with information interchange?
Since the PreBIS-System is neither a Groupware System that provides
means of direct communication or information interchange nor an expert
system, that provides the user with explicit knowledge, the focus is rather
to assist them in the core business processes in order ease the
access to and the handling with relevant information, from which the needed
knowledge can be (re)constructed. A set of basic operations on the pre-built
information space has been developed to support the users and to foster
cooperation at the level of information interchange. These generic operations
can be divided into operation concepts and pre-building concepts. Another
classification could be done along the dimension of individual or group
Figure 5: Overview of the basic operations on the pre-built
The concept of Intelligent Information Engineering subsumes the support
on information intensive work in a business process along two lines: The
user can be seen as an individual, while the method Intelligent Information
Retrieval is supporting him. At the same time a user can be a member of
a team or a community, which can share information as well as shape information
to increase the effectiveness of cooperative work. Adaptive Information
Engineering, on the other hand, combines two concepts that enable explicit
interaction with objects in the information space and thus fostering the
use of the information space as a knowledge base for individual and cooperative
The operations, which are shown in an overview in figure
5, will be shortly introduced here. A more concise description can
be found in [Härtwig, Fähnrich 03], [Hoof
et. al. 03] and [Fähnrich, Böhm 03]:
- Intelligent Information Retrieval: The concept is concerned
with the optimisation of information retrieval and adjustment of the role-dependant
structures of the information space. The more often the business process
is repeated, the higher is the benefit, due to the adoption of the system.
- Information Sharing: Due to the additional work needed to share knowledge
about good practices, useful information etc. is often done less frequently
than needed. This concept allows an implicit sharing of information objects
that have been found useful by other members of the community (having the
same role) by adapting the weights in the information space. Neither the
time line of the activities nor the locations of the users are important.
Users with a similar role are able to share parts of the information space,
which are relevant for their process activities.
- Information Shaping: Typically, more than one organisational
role is involved during the execution of a business process. Users assigned
to each role have to work on several tasks. Collaboration can be supported
along two dimensions; a user works together with others on a single task,
as well as users work together on a chain of tasks. Supporting knowledge-intensive
cooperative work was the motivation for this concept. The general idea
of using the information space for this purpose is, that users are able
to shape a part of the information space during the time of cooperation.
- Information Abstraction: The concept was developed for the case
distributing information to specific roles and for making it available
for everyone. Methods were defined, which allow the changing of information
objects and replacing it back to the information space. This method enables
users to generalize or to specialize information objects for other roles
to guide their information provision. Also annotations, markers, hints
etc. can be inserted in order to assist other users.
- Information Engineering: Knowledge intensive tasks do not merely
consume information, but also include, edit and process the search result
in the work within the business process. To support this process the information
space operates on content objects, which are generated from document sources.
Information Engineering subsumes all operations that can be applied on
content objects such as reporting, forwarding them to other users and creating
6 Modelling Methodology for Pre-built Information
The PreBIS-approach draws heavily from pre-building information spaces
to supply the users with information that reflect their actual and anticipated
demands with respect to their current working context. As the information
space will adjust over time to the needs and usage patterns of users in
various roles, this dependency will be especially high after the deployment
phase of the solution, as the construction of an initial information space
is crucial for the system to work efficiently.
In order to prevent the creation of yet another entry barrier for the
application of Knowledge Management solutions, especially in SME, it is
essential to minimize the modelling efforts needed to create the initial
information space. This can be accomplished by combining modelling approaches
from the field of business process modelling (see [Krallmann
et. al. 02]) and ontology engineering (see [Staab
et. al. 01]) with text-mining methods (see [Böhm
et. al. 02]).
Figure 6: An iterative, stepwise modelling methodology captures information
objects from the business process, extends them using ontological concepts
and links them to the terminology in an underlying document collection
The methodology for the preparation of the information space consists
of three steps and starts with the knowledge-intensive (part of a) business
process which is modelled using a business process modelling technique
which focuses on information objects and their flow between process activities
(communication structure analysis, CSA, see [Hoyer 88],
[Wyssusek 01]). This methodology suits the aspects
of building a business process oriented knowledge infrastructure especially
well, since it focuses on the flow of information (objects) rather that
on the organisation of task-sequences. This initial information model can
be extended with relevant domain concepts gained from expert workshops
(stored in an ontology) and are rooted within the document repository that
contains the relevant information by linking information objects to the
terminology used in the documents. The steps for the creation and iterative
refinement of the information space are illustrated in figure
6 and described below:
- Step I: Information Object from the Business Process Model
Model the knowledge-intensive business process or those parts of the
business processes that require extensive information support. During this
modelling phase, relevant information objects are prerequisites or results
of an activity or could be modified by them. Our primary interest is to
recognize the relevant information objects and information sources and
to transfer them into an initial information model (Step I in figure
6). Apart from the information objects themselves, contextual information
about their use will be gained and can be used to align them with the supported
Examples for such information objects could be "standard parts"
or "mounting elements". Usually these information objects carry
a high level of abstraction since they tend to aggregate groups of real
- Step II: Information Object from an Expert Workshop
The initial model is then enhanced by related concepts in the information
model that might be relevant in the information model (ontology) of the
company (or department or organizational role) but have not been captured
in the modelling phase of the business process. This phase can be accomplished
by executing an expert workshop. Although this approach is a standard technique
for capturing knowledge in Knowledge Management this step starts, in contrast
to other approaches, with an initial information model which has to be
extended. This is generally easier than starting the modelling phase from
scratch. In figure 6 this extension is labelled with
Step II and is also used to incorporate already existing concept structures
(e.g. taxonomies that might exist in the company).
Examples for information objects added in this step could be something
like "anchor", "screw" or "nails" which represent
a specialization of the examples in the previous step.
- Step III: Information Object from document analysis
In the last step the information model will be augmented with results
from a preceding automatic analysis of relevant documents using text mining
to add concepts that are codified in the documents but have not yet been
represented in the information model. This step is essential for an effective
information provision for bridging the conceptual gap between top-down
information models and the underlying document collection.
An appropriate identification method will be needed to identify concepts
within the document base. Initially, a simple algorithm that identifies
information objects with similar signatures is used and which can be extended
to recognize a variety of realizations of a concept within a text (see
[Fillies et. al. 01], [Fillies
et. al. 03]).
For example, such an information object could be "Hammerfix N-FZ"
(a special component from Fischer Fixing Systems, which combines an anchor
and a screw in a single unit and is used like a nail). Still this concept
is not on the instance level as there are different shapes and forms of
the product which have their own names.
The modelling approach for pre-built information spaces introduced here,
focuses on two new aspects in the area of knowledge-intensive business
processes: First, obtaining relevant information objects directly from
the business process and thus generating an agile Knowledge Infrastructure,
which is directly coupled with the value generating business processes
in the company. Second, an information space is build up by connecting
information objects over different layers of abstraction from the general
concepts bound to the activities within the business process to the terminological
realisations in the document repository.
7 Modular Implementation Methodology
Implementing an information system like PreBIS in an enterprise cannot
be done 'out of the box'. Instead, an analysis of the organisational and
technical infrastructure of the enterprise has to be accomplished first.
For instance business processes and roles have to be extracted, and the
existing hardware and software environment needs to be considered. A variety
of tasks has to be completed during implementation, and as every enterprise
requires a specific fulfilment of these tasks, a specific implementation
practice for each of them is needed.
To allow an efficient implementation of PreBIS in such a setting, the
necessary work has been systematised and mapped in a flexible implementation
methodology. The methodology is realised by so-called service modules that
are explained in this section. Due to similarity of problems, such an implementation
method is also relevant for other systems supporting process-oriented information
7.1 Challenges and Requirements in Enterprises
During the project various enterprises of different branches have been
investigated regarding their requirements, challenges and initial situations
for the implementation of the PreBIS system. The following aspects have
been considered crucial for an implementation methodology by the participating
users and consultants:
- Transparency of activities, effort and benefits
First of all, acceptance of such a methodology depends on its ability
to define and communicate required activities, efforts and benefits clearly.
A methodology should support cost estimations and point out benefits for
decision makers. Furthermore, enterprises are characterised by high expectations
regarding a fast and automated implementation. For that reason the necessary
tasks of the implementation process should be presented and explained in
advance. For the same reason it is important to clarify sub-targets and
side effects. In addition, a methodology should also support communication
with future users of the system regarding benefits and efforts they will
- Adaptability to the enterprise
Special relevance is seen in the ability of the methodology to be adaptable
to the needs of a company. Enterprises are characterised by different stages
of organisational maturity. For instance some already have process-management
or terminology-management and some do not. Findings of the workshops in
the enterprises were that business processes are documented weakly, term
clarity is inconsistent and role descriptions are used in a various manners
(as mentioned in chapter 3 or [Engelbach, Delp 04]).
Thus, organisationally advanced enterprises will experience a less extensive
implementation project because previous work on different fields can be
Considering these requirements when creating a methodology increases
acceptance of work that needs to be completed during implementation. Therefore
the methodology realises a portfolio of services for implementing PreBIS
taking these requirements into account.
Because of its modular composition, the methodology is flexible enough
to be adapted to the enterprise needs. Implementation efforts can be saved
and it can serve as a guideline during an implementation project. The composition
and configuration of the service portfolio are demonstrated in the example
of services for context-extraction.
7.2 Modular Implementation Services
The working packages needed for the implementation should be structured
systematically in order to coordinate single activities efficiently and
to follow the identified requirements of enterprises. To systematise the
implementation work, it is structured along two dimensions. It is first
assigned to different action fields and then to the phases of the implementation
Action fields that are relevant for PreBIS implementation are 'context',
'content', 'information technology' and 'project control'. Each action
field is split up into subunits. The following action fields and subunits
have been identified during the PreBIS project:
- Search Classification
- Information sources
- Information Technology
- Reporting / System analysis
- Software environment
- Hardware environment
- Project control
- Enterprise strategy
- Change Management
- Project management
- Cost consideration
The second dimension consists of implementation phases. The following
questions have to be answered in the phases by the service modules:
- Demand analysis
How to create a specific project plan (module configuration)?
How to image the structure of the enterprises?
How to analyse potential optimisations of the structure of the enterprises?
How to optimise the structure of the enterprises?
How to implement this concept?
It will now be shown how service modules are integrated into this framework,
using the example of the action field 'context'. A service module is defined
here as a functionally autarkic unit that integrates activities which have
to be accomplished by the PreBIS provider during an implementation project.
The sum of all service modules describes the maximum extent of such a project.
This concept of service modules is part of the discipline of Service Engineering
(see [Böhmann and Krcmar (02)]).
The action field 'context' contains all activities required for context
extraction. The core question is: How can context information in the enterprise
be made available to PreBIS? An overview of service modules, associated
to action fields and phases is given in the following illustration:
Figure 7: Service modules in the action field 'context'
Work in this action field affects processes (Which processes are important
for PreBIS?), roles (Which roles are important for PreBIS?), ontologies
(Which term concepts are important for PreBIS?) and search classification
(Which kinds of search proceedings are important for PreBIS?). In correspondence
to the project phases described above, the service modules are assigned
to one or more of them. Processes, for instance, need to be looked at in
a more differentiated way because of their high complexity and importance
Considering 'processes' as an example, the service modules are characterised
as follows: The first service module at the process level is 'process mapping'.
Its goal is to select those current business processes, which have to be
supported by PreBIS, and capture them in a process model.
Information (process models) created in this module, is forwarded via
an interface to 'process analysis'. Here, process models are analysed to
uncover improvement potential (e.g. missing information for certain tasks
or redundant tasks). Documented improvement potential serves as input for
the service module 'process optimisation', were optimised process models
are created considering improvement potential. Process models from mapping
or optimisation phases present input for 'process implementation'. Now
processes are made available for PreBIS (system import) and are also implemented
into the organisation if they have been optimised before. All single context
components (processes, roles, ontologies) are integrated into one model
during this procedure (also see section 5.1 for details
on this modelling approach).
Beside this, the module 'Create BPM' (Business Process Management) is
provided. The investigations of SMEs in the PreBIS project uncovered, that
some of them do not have a process management yet. This is of importance
because process oriented information or Knowledge Management needs an instance
that designs, executes and controls processes that also underlie PreBIS.
Accomplishing this service module therefore defines persons in charge and
duties of such a process management. Furthermore, processes are selected,
which shall be controlled in the future by the process management.
To take this methodology as a guideline during an implementation project,
each service module is also described by a process model that defines all
steps that have to be taken to fulfil it. Apart from implementation phases,
services for PreBIS operation can also be included into such a service
portfolio. However, this contribution focuses on implementation services
Building this methodology modularly facilitates the combination of those
service modules that are needed according to the demand of a specific enterprise.
This modular combination is referred to as module configuration. Within
the scope of a demand analysis, the enterprise that wants to implement
PreBIS is investigated regarding its previous works and goals. Both are
drivers for module configuration. If, for instance, an enterprise has already
documented its processes (previous work) and it does not wish to analyse
or change them (goal), process mapping, analysis and optimisation do not
need to be carried out. It has to be verified by the PreBIS provider/consultant
at the end of the demand analysis if the process documentation of the enterprise
is really appropriate for the implementation phase. Otherwise it might
be necessary to accomplish the process mapping.
Using such a modular approach, PreBIS can meet the expectations of SME,
while at the same time saving a large amount of implementation effort.
7.3 Exemplary Application of the Introduction Methodology
The introduced methodology for PreBIS implementation was evaluated in
a workshop with a medium-sized enterprise. The goal of this workshop was
to ensure applicability of the service modules. Therefore a demand analysis
has been carried out to collect information about previous work in the
enterprise and its goals to subsequently create a specific module configuration:
Regarding processes, the enterprise has no process management. This,
however, is considered crucial for future process maintenance. Furthermore,
documentations of business processes exist but they are not up to date,
not detailed enough, and only available for a few organisational units.
In addition, the enterprise wants to remedy lacks in process documentation
and process content.
After all, every service module of the process level was selected. In
contrast to processes, the enterprise possesses extensive job descriptions,
which have been developed just recently. Those can be taken as a base for
the PreBIS role descriptions. Therefore, only the role implementation has
to be proceeded. No previous works existed regarding ontologies. There
are neither glossaries nor other documents available that describe the
usage of certain terms in specific domains. Therefore ontology mapping
is required. Beyond this the enterprise desires to analyse existing ontologies
regarding optimisation potential for conceptual consolidation because they
have experienced efficiency problems in term usage in the past. Almost
no previous work existed in the field of search classification. Only a
study about the usage of an internal archive system can be used to support
separation of different search categories. Finally the service modules
were configured as shown in figure 8. Implementation effort can be saved
on the role level.
Figure 8: Module configuration resulting from a demand analysis
in an exemplary SME-setting
The estimation of the practical applicability in the exemplary application
within the selected enterprise was positive. Especially its high customer
orientation has been emphasized by the users. They recognized it as 'meaningful
customizing' through modular composition. Furthermore, it was pointed out,
that customers will be enabled to get adequate control in the implementation
process. Above all this methodology is seen more as a holistic solution
for one company's problems in the field of process oriented information
This is made possible by the autarkic benefit or use each service module
provides, which exceeds the implementation of the PreBIS-system. Beside
this the acceptance is also driven by transparency and comprehensibility
of both single required tasks and the whole service portfolio.
8 Conclusion and Outlook
This contribution introduced the PreBIS project, which implements a
business process oriented knowledge infrastructure with a focus on appropriate
information provision and collaboration support at the level of organisational
The core of the solution is the implementation of an adaptive, dynamic
information space that adjusts to the information demand of individual
users and to the usage pattern of a role-oriented community over time.
Such a pre-build information space can be constructed by combining modelling
approaches from the ontology domain and from the business process domain
and a phase model for a stepwise creation and refinement of the data structure.
In order to reduce the entry barrier, especially for SME a combination
with automatic analysis methods in the structure phase and the use of machine
learning algorithms to adopt the information space during the usage phase
It turned out, that the connection of an Information or Knowledge Management
System with a process control system that executes a specified business
process was a novel approach that could be successfully implemented. Still,
the presence of an IT-system that controls the value creating knowledge
intensive process cannot always be assumed. Leaner solutions are required
that enable use of business process oriented knowledge infrastructure for
small enterprises or weakly structured business processes with high variability
and a low repetition rate.
Since the prerequisites regarding the maturity of the business processes,
existing knowledge management solutions and reusable information and structures
vary in different enterprises a modular approach for the introduction of
the PreBIS-System proved to be successful as it can be customized to the
needs of the enterprise. In addition to the functional description, cost
statements for each module could be helpful to estimate the investment
in the new solution. Furthermore, the concept of a modular introduction
methodology could be extended to operational services, such as optimisation
of services, incorporation of new information sources etc. that could be
used regularly or only when needed.
The PreBIS-project is a joint research cooperation between academic
institutions and German companies. It is partly funded by the German Federal
Ministry of Economics and Labour under Registration numbers 01 MD 215 to
219. Project partners are the Universities of Leipzig and Stuttgart, InTraCoM
GmbH, ISA Information Systems GmbH, TeleZentrum Edelsfeld GmbH as well
as the Fraunhofer IAO and the companies TextTech GmbH, Semtation GmbH and
EMI-Applications GmbH as embedded partners.
An earlier and shorter version of this paper was presented at the 4th
International Conference on Knowledge Management (I-KNOW-04) in Graz on
1st July 2004 [Delp et. al. 04].
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