Goal and Approach
The goal of this project is to develop a methodology
for redesigning acquisition processes based on knowledge-and information-flow
analysis. This methodology, called InfoDesign, focuses on the knowledge
embedded in a business process, the information processing resources involved
in execution of the process, and the information flowing through the process.
While the development of InfoDesign is one of the components of this
proposal, the methodology combines, develops, and refines specific aspects of one previously published methodology and two theoretical frameworks listed below:
- MetaProi stands for Meta Process for Process
Improvement (Kock, 1999a). MetaProi is a refinement of the PROI methodology
(Kock, 1995) and is a process redesign method focused on information-flow
- Theory of Constraints (Bramorski et al., 1997; Goldratt, 1990; Goldratt and Cox, 1986; Goldratt and Fox, 1986). One of the hypotheses of this theory is that a focus on "bottlenecks" leads to optimal business process design, from both an efficiency and effectiveness perspective. Bottlenecks are defined as subprocesses (or activities) that pose constraints on process cost reduction and reduce throughput. In other words, the theory hypothesizes that, if process redesign is conducted (based on the identification and redesign of bottlenecks), the process will be accomplished cheaper and faster and without any impact on process redesign quality
than if no focus on bottlenecks
- Information Load Theory (Evaristo et al.,
1995). The term "information overload" has been used in the business
literature without first considering the true meaning of "information load,"
the underlying construct. This theoretical treatment suggests that there are
several antecedents of information load, some affecting demand for
information processing resources and others affecting the supply of these
resources. "Information load" is how much of the supply is being used by the
demand for these resources. In particular, knowledge about the demand
antecedents can be invaluable in controlling the level of information load
and, therefore, the potential performance in certain tasks.
InfoDesign is used in this research project for the identification of "information-flow bottlenecks" in business processes. Building on MetaProi, a set of guidelines is developed to restructure business processes based on process modeling and analysis outcomes. Information-load theory is used for the preparation of these guidelines by providing a conceptual basis for the optimization of information loads. Part of the objective is to avoid letting the load become too low or too high, situations that are likely to lead to lower performance levels.
The InfoDesign methodology was developed and partially validated during a project lasting approximately 1 year. The project's main tasks and subtasks are described in the Project Schedule (see Appendix A). The validation of the methodology was conducted as an action research study (Checkland, 1991; Elden and Chisholm, 1993; Kock et al., 1997; Winter, 1998) in which one acquisition process, involving the U.S. Government and one key supplier, was analyzed and redesigned. The process redesign proposal was cross-evaluated for quality and for the likely organizational impact by stakeholders of the organizations involved. This was performed immediately after its delivery and before its implementation. Six months after the delivery of the process redesign proposal, a review of its implementation was conducted to assess its bottom-line impact on process efficiency and quality.
The following table lists potential suppliers, who were initially contacted and who have partnered with the researchers in previous projects; products; and respective buyers within the U.S. Government. We eventually partnered with Computer Sciences Corporation and Lockheed Martin for this research project. Each of the two companies contributed a group of employees to work on the redesign of a software acquisition process involving the Department of Defense and Computer Sciences Corporation. (Lockheed Martin often partnered with Computer Sciences Corporation to develop software products.)