Like many existing ERP models (e.g., Podolsky, 1998; Van Stijn & Wensley, 2001), the OOAB framework is also based on a widely accepted assumption that a corporate-wide information system consists of a set of potentially related subsystems; and as a result, information flows among these subsystems must be identified, and required resources planned, using an appropriate ERP methodology. However, up until now there existed no formalised framework that facilitates sharing of contextual knowledge in ERP processes. A unique attribute of the OOAB framework is that it treats ERP processes as a collaborative processes where various roles/actors collaboratively perform tasks in order to achieve a common overall goal. An object-oriented framework is presented in this article that facilitates sharing the contextual knowledge/resources that exist within ERP processes. Context is represented by a set of relevant collaborative semantic concepts or “objects”. These are the objects that are localised/contextualised to specific sub-process within the ERP process.
From a purely object orientation perspective, a collaboration is defined as “the structure of instances playing roles in a behavior and their relationships” (OMG, 2001). The behaviour mentioned in this definition refers to an operation, or a use case, or any other behavioural classifier. This article provides an overview of a framework for analysing awareness requirements of the actors in ERP systems using an object-oriented awareness-based approach. A similar study was also conducted for developing a new version of this framework that takes into consideration the specific characteristics of virtual communities (Daneshgar, 2003). The proposed approach specialises the notion of collaboration and extends it to the ERP processes. This has roots in the activity network theory (Kaptilini et al., 1995) and is based on the fact that all ERP processes involve multiple roles performing various tasks using appropriate artefacts (e.g., departmental sub-systems, databases, etc.) in order to achieve both their local as well as the overall organization-wide goals. Conceptually speaking, this will justify a frame-based object-oriented approach to analysis and design for ERP processes (Turban & Aaron, 2001). The conceptual model of the proposed framework is made of the following components:
a set of collaborative semantic concepts including roles, the tasks that these roles play within the process, and the artefacts that these roles use to perform various tasks within the process, and
relationships among these semantic concepts.
This conceptual model can then be mapped directly to an object model and be used as an analytical tool for identifying awareness requirements of the actors within the ERP process. The fact that ERP is treated as a collaborative process calls for a mechanism for maintaining awareness requirements of the actors involved in this collaboration. Furthermore, due to its object orientation, the framework is capable of encapsulating all complications and dependencies in sub/local processes within individual tasks as well as resources required to perform those tasks, further relieving the ERP management and the associated software.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Awareness: A specialised knowledge about the objects that leads an actor to an understanding of various aspects of the ERP collaborative process. It is defined and measured in terms of the semantic concepts ( task, role, process resource , and collaborative resource ) used in the map.
Role: A set of norms expressed in terms of obligations, privileges, and rights assigned to an actor.
Action: A sequence of goal-directed steps.
Required Level of Awareness: A property of a task. It represents the expected awareness from any actor who performs the task. Its value also ranges from 0 to 4.
Actual Level of Awareness: The awareness that a role actually possesses within the ERP process. Actual awareness is represented by an integer number ranging from zero to four, representing various levels of awareness. Actual awareness is a property of an actor who performs one or more roles within the ERP process.
This work was previously published in Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology: edited by M. Khosrow-Pour, pp. 569-572, copyright 2005 by Information Science Reference, formerly known as Idea Group Reference (an imprint of IGI Global)
Task: An object with a set of attributes and actions to achieve a specific process goal using certain resource called process resource.