In many organizations, workflows are used to describe best practices and lessons learned as algorithmic structures. That is, workflows explain how work results are meant to be achieved or how to avoid problems that have occurred in the past. When workflows are enacted, staying aware of the actual progress reached offers many possibilities, for instance:
- Provide detailed information about the current status when requested by project stakeholders
- Detect deviations from the plan, either wanted or unwanted
- Support team members by guidance how to advance to the next tasks, and by presenting alternatives
In many cases, however, users are already confronted with a large set of
tools during everyday work, so interacting with an additional program to manually track progress is not acceptable. Further, when the tasks in question have been carried out many times before, documenting daily activity becomes a burden.
Therefore, the Progress Information Environment (PIE) has been devised to automatically track workflow enactment. The system is currently being developed within the domain of geographical information management, which is an integral part of a long-term eGovernment project conducted at rjm business solutions GmbH. The project aims at creating, maintaining and publishing detailed geographical information for structures of historic interest as demanded by law. Workflows are used to describe both technical and organizational aspects of geographical information management, i.e. techniques how to create data best as well as agreements with the customer on the demanded order of results.
Key features of the PIE system include:
- Identify workflow enactment by leveraging the information captured by the various information systems already deployed at the organization, e.g. CAD applications, databases, Intranet services, etc.
- Automated enactment tracking without obliging the users
- Flexibility to support agile workflows, as in particular organizational workflows have to be changed frequently to match shifted priorities
- Robustness against erroneous data or single system failure
The system uses the Collaborative Agent-based Knowledge Engine (CAKE) [http://www.wi2.uni-trier.de/de/cms/projects/Cake/] for workflow modeling and enactment support and for data modeling facilities. As a part of current research, the workflows performed and the artifacts created within the scenario of geographical information management are analyzed to allow in-depth evaluation.
Research and development of PIE is funded by rjm business solutions GmbH, Lampertheim [http://www.research.rjm.de]