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"Interactive Acquisition, Negotiation and Enactment of Subject-oriented Business Process Knowledge"

Final Report Summary - IANES (Interactive Acquisition, Negotiation and Enactment of Subject-oriented Business Process Knowledge)

IANES (Interactive Acquisition, Negotiation and Enactment of Subject-Oriented Business Process Knowledge) addresses requirements of in-situ process knowledge acquisition and alignment. In today's highly dynamic business environments, organizations have to be able to rapidly adapt to changing internal and external contexts and contingencies. A shift of perspective from traditional top-down business process definition towards individuals acting in an organization towards a common goal enables the flexibility required for adaptation.

The ability to individualize the work practices within a business process and the possibility of modeling from a local rather than a global point of view are the core properties that distinguish subject-oriented business process modeling from other approaches focusing on the sequence of activities rather than the flow of communication. People can maintain their individual ways of performing tasks and are only required to know and understand their interfaces to others. The acquisition and alignment of individual work process knowledge has hardly been addressed methodologically and technically so far. In IANES, work process knowledge is captured and reflected upon in the current work situation of an individual or a group of individuals collaborating, enabling them to set up or revise the work practices whenever the need arises. The aim of the project is providing a set of socio-technical instruments to support members of an organization in eliciting, negotiating and improving their knowledge about individual and organizational work practices and interfaces. The core objectives are to provide methodological and technical support for (I) identifying the need for knowledge creation and alignment activities, (II) aligning work processes and underlying knowledge in-situ during operative work and (III) creating, negotiating, evaluating and distributing fundamentally new knowledge necessary for a work situation.
The IANES project consortium brings together extensive experiences in research and development of methods and tools in the field of agile business process management and organizational learning support.

In IANES, the partners develop a set of methodologically and technically interoperable instruments that allow for seamless support of the processes specified in the conceptual framework. These instruments enable people to identify and actively work on their understanding of the own and other's roles relevant for a cooperative work process. They ultimately align the heterogenous knowledge about their work, enabling them to work more efficiently and effectively. IANES follows a Design Science approach and consequently builds upon and develops further instruments that have been successfully deployed in both, research and industry use cases, for several years.
IANES is conceptually based upon the Knowledge Lifecycle of Firestone & McElroy. The Knowledge Lifecycle (KLC) is a framework for embedding knowledge work in business-process-oriented organizational environments. IANES has specified an instance of the KLC that focuses on the actors in an organization in a subject-oriented way. The KLC is enriched with instruments to enable the identification of problem claims, the elaboration of knowledge claims and all activities to distribute and operatively use knowledge in daily work processes.

During the four years of the project, IANES has established its conceptual framework, has refined the pre-existing instruments of the partners to fit their intended role in the IANES framework, develop new instruments that address the remaining gaps for supporting the KLC and has enabled the interoperability of all instruments to enable for seamless interaction with the IANES toolset. The partners have researched ways to
(a) allow for the resolution of contingencies in running work processes supported by workflow management systems,
(b) identify fundamental problems or recurring errors in work situations to trigger the dedicated knowledge creation or alignment activities,
(c) describe work knowledge in a way that does not require knowledge or experiences in business process modeling while still maintaining the availability of BPM tool support (such as simulation or validation,
(d) describe work situations that put work process into context and allow to assess the relevance of already available information in organizational knowledge repositories,
(e) create knowledge repositories on an organizational level that contain common and individualized business process knowledge and enable situation-specific provision of the stored information during work execution and knowledge creation, assessment and sharing, and
(f) provide information about work processes and their context in a way that is appropriate for the activities (either operative or knowledge-oriented) workers currently are involved in.

The major results on a conceptual level include
- the IANES framework as an instantiation of the KLC,
- an adoption of the Transactive Memory concept to describe the requirements on and structure of the distributed organizational knowledge base IANES builds upon, as well as
- refinements of the S-BPM approach that allow for more flexible use of the S-BPM modeling method in the context of IANES.
On a methodological level, the partners have developed and evaluated instruments to
- capture and describe the situation of a work process,
- describe a collaborative work process and make visible different expectations on and understandings of the collaboration activities, as well as
- share and individualize knowledge about work processes.
Technically, the already existing tools of the partners have been augmented to support the developed methods. The used workflow engine is able to create and document deviations from running process instances, allowing for contingency resolution and allowing for problem claim identification. The toolsets used to capture work process and situation knowledge from domain experts not experienced in modeling have been extended to support S-BPM-specific modeling constructs and provide gateways to process evaluation tools. Learning support platforms have been extended to enable their deployment in organizational settings following a self-organized learning approach. The interoperability of the instruments is enabled by a dedicated middleware, which allows to describe and flexibly configure ensembles of instruments for specific application scenarios. The middleware operatively enables these instruments to exchange information and provide services to each other, ultimately enabling interoperability between those instruments. It also provides the gateway to the distributed organizational knowledge base, enabling individualized views on organizational knowledge, which can be shared or collectively reflected upon.

IANES provides a set of interacting instruments that support knowledge-driven business process improvement in organizations. Support ranges from identification of the potential for improvement over instruments for elicitation of the relevant knowledge from all involved stakeholders, the negotiation and alignment of different viewpoints during the creation of new work practices to sharing and cross-leveling the results of knowledge creation activities throughout an organization. When deployed in practice, IANES enables stronger involvement of workers in business process management and increase the impact on how an organization behaves internally and interacts with its economic and social environment. Consequently, IANES contributes to empowerment of workers and thus improves the perceived quality of their work. In considering and integrating relevant knowledge from all levels and areas of an organization, IANES enables more appropriate reaction on changing environments and thus enables more efficient, effective and sustainable business behavior on a long term basis.

The project description, information on events and publicly available results are published on the project website at