Knowledge enhanced framework for the design and development of e-workflow systems

Ndeta, John (2008) Knowledge enhanced framework for the design and development of e-workflow systems. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


For the last two hundred years the neo-classical economy has recogniscd only two factors of production: Labour and capital. With the advent of the Internet and e-business, the economy is now changing to knowledge and global economy in which information and knowledge are becoming the main factors and the primary wealth-creating assets. Land, labour and capital - the economist's traditional factors of production - do not disappear, but they become secondary. This research work has focussed on the development of a new framework and methodologies to support the process of designing workflow management systems (e-workflow) adapted to the dynamic changes of the new business (e-business) environment in the new economy. Such framework and methodologies will support the automation and the dynamic changes of e-business processes, the integration of heterogeneous application systems, and communications between intra and inter-organisational ebusiness processes.
An initial literature review has found that traditional workflow metaphors are increasingly inadequate in the new e-business era that is often characterised by an increasing pace of radical, discontinuous and unforeseen change in the business processes and e-business environment. The findings show that current workflow systems are less capable of dealing with the more dynamic situations encountered in ad hoc and collaborative work processes in the new e-business environment. Furthermore, traditional workflow developments fail to characterise the information and knowledge that flows in a workflow design process in such a manner as to promote its reuse. It has also showed that the traditional developments of workflow systems have ignored the human dimension of organisational knowledge creation.
To address the above workflow development limitations, this research work has proposed the integration of a new knowledge perspective to the traditional framework for workflow design and development, which was limited to four perspectives i. e. organisational, behavioural, functional and informational perspectives. This new knowledge perspective has two main roles: monitoring the changes that are happening in the traditional workflow modelling perspectives and reflect the changes on the c-busincss processes, and enrich the framework with a knowledge repository. The knowledge repository is populated from two sources: the extraction or deduction of knowledge from the data and information flowing between the four perspectives and the memorisation of successful stories, best practices, previous cases which are organised as design patterns. These design patterns will be re-used to continuously evolve and provide flexibility of e-business processes to reflect immediate changes required in the new e-business environment. An evaluation of the proposed framework and methods was carried out through web-based survey and action research case study strategies.

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