Proceso VS Flujo de Información_excelente

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  ISSN 1392 – 124X INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND CONTROL, 2006, Vol. 35, No. 4 THE USE OF INFORMATION FLOW ANALYSIS FOR BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE ORGANIZATION Vaidotas Petrauskas Department of Computers, Kaunas University of Technology Studentų 50-215, Kaunas, LT-51368, Lithuania Abstract. Information technologies have great influence on the performance of organization. They are related with the changes in organization activities and structure of organization. A view to organization as a three-layer sys
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  ISSN 1392 – 124X INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND CONTROL, 2006, Vol.35, No.4 THE USE OF INFORMATION FLOW ANALYSIS FOR BUILDINGAN EFFECTIVE ORGANIZATION Vaidotas Petrauskas  Department of Computers, Kaunas University of TechnologyStudent  ų  50-215, Kaunas, LT-51368, Lithuania Abstract . Information technologies have great influence on the performance of organization. They are related withthe changes in organization activities and structure of organization. A view to organization as a three-layer systemwhere information flows connect material flows with decision makers is presented in this article. Three criteria (time,cost and path) are used in a formal model that evaluates organizations information flow effectiveness. This article pre-sents a methodic for choosing information technologies that fit organization needs by performance and cost. Petri netsare used for modeling. Keywords: Information Flows, Organization Modeling, Information Processing, Decision Making. 1. Introduction Rapidly changing information technologies urgethe organizations to adapt to modern technologicalsolutions. However is it always necessary to buy themost up-to date solutions? A proper implementation of information technologies should fit organization acti-vities by performance and cost. An analysis of organi-zation activities would help to find a solution thatcorresponds to organization needs.Organization‘s information flows are the mirror of the activities in organization. Information flows sup- port the material flows (or the activities that directly build the main products/services of organization) andare the connector between material flows and decisionmakers. Modeling of organization activities helps to build an effective organization. Ways how to useinformation flows in organization process modelingare analyzed in latter works.Recent literature analyzes the relationship betweenorganizations overall performance and informationflows [5]. The research of the impact of informationtechnologies to organization performance leads toevaluation of information system effectiveness [7] [8][13]. The rapidly developing information technologiesare even one of the factors for business process reen-gineering [1], [2], [3], [10]. Question how informationtechnologies influence organization structure is ana-lyzed in [14]. The use of information flows for orga-nization process modeling is poorly presented intheoretical research works. Some authors use formalmodels for organization modeling, build organizationontologies [4], [6], [9]. However the separation bet-ween material and information flows is not clear. Petrinets for organization activities modeling can also beused [11].The objective of this article is to analyze the bene-fit of information flow modeling when building aneffective organization. Without proper modeling theinformation technologies may be used inefficiently inorganization thus reducing the gain from them.In this article, a methodic of organization informa-tion flow modeling is presented. Three formal para-meters (path, time and cost of information flow) areused to measure the effectiveness of organization’sinformation flow net. The use of formal modeling andevaluation methods allows us to represent the imple-mentation of information flows and to formally eva-luate the effectiveness of it as well. The widely usedsemiformal models can represent the informationflows well but they lack of formal parameters thatwould allow measuring the quality of the informationflow net. It is shown that the developed optimizationtechnique helps to choose proper information techno-logies by several criteria at a time.   2. Organization modeling by informationflows Each working organization regardless of whether itis a manufacturing enterprise or a service provider (business-oriented or nonprofit, public office) has twokinds of activities: ã direct activities that manufacture production or  provide services and ã supporting activities that administrate direct acti-vities (informational activities). 441    V.Petrauskas Information (about orders, activities being execu-ted, products in-production, products made, workers,work process etc) is gathered (registered), saved(stored), transferred, analyzed (processed), used for manufacturing or decision making processes. Theseinformational activities are necessary for each orga-nization though they are non-added-value. Operativework coordination, well-timed presentation of fullordered information to the decision makers depend oneffective execution of these activities. Thus the effec-tiveness of overall organization activities depends onthese processes.This article analyzes activities of the second kindonly and not the reorganization of manufacturing pro-cess. The article presents methodic that lets one effec-tively organize informational activities and implementinformation technologies within an organization.We look at an organization as a three layer system(see Figure 1). The organization’s material flows (acti-vities of the first kind) are in the ground layer. Deci-sion makers, managers of organization are on the top.Organization’s information flows are the connection between them. The middle layer receives the informa-tion from the bottom, processes it and presents it tothe decision makers. Decisions made in the top layer influence the bottom layer activities. The aim of thiswork is to optimize the work of the middle layer bythinning it. DecisionmakersInformation processingMaterialflowsInformationFlow (decisions)InformationFlow Figure 1 . Organization macro model To be able to make qualitative decisions the orga-nization managers need to receive qualitative informa-tion on time. Decisions need to be delivered to mate-rial flows full and on time. Qualitative realization of these information flows is ensured by the middle lay-er. Later the formal parameters of this layer will be presented.Most often in a working organization the activitiesare executed according to some steady (often – specified) business rules. All activities are (or can be)stated in economical/financial documentation of enter- prise and models of organization processes can be built. Models that describe the information flows inorganization are often presented in UML or DFD.Models like these describe how the activities should perform (or are performing). But is it an effective pro-cess realization? Will information be delivered to deci-sion makers on time? Is that information qualitative?Can these information flows be implemented cheaper?How many people and how much IT hardware/software is necessary to perform some concrete func-tions? How to distribute activities among the subdivi-sions/working places? These problems influence thequality of organization processes. It is impossible tosolve them by simply looking at the process diagrams.For that purpose, formal analysis of organization acti-vities may be used. An analysis including other formal parameters is very useful to enrich the organization’sinformational processes semiformal models (how andwhere information is born, stored, processed andused).In formal analysis of the information flows of anorganization three formal parameters are used in thisarticle. Cost shows how much the current (or alternative)implementation of informational processes cost. Time shows the speed of information transfer tothe user of information (for instance, how much timeit takes for a decision maker to receive the necessaryinformation from material flows). This parameter isthe most important one for decisions on time. Path gives the knowledge about the amount of information flow net elements that information mustgo through to be received by information user.These parameters are tightly related with eachother thus making the analysis more complicated. New IT means can process information faster (reducetime) but can also increase costs dramatically. Shor-tening of path may lead to increase in cost or time. New investments in IT may not be required, if thereduction in time is less important than low cost of information system. Most often improving one para-meter worsens the values of other parameters. Thusany investment in the middle layer (see Figure 1)should be done only after a proper formal analysis.For instance, if analysis shows that decision maker receives the information too late a decision to buymore powerful IT means (that would perform the tasksfaster) thus reducing time, changing path but increas-ing costs of organization’s middle layer can be made.When building (or reorganizing) organization’sinformation system the evaluation of possible alterna-tives by formal parameters lets use funds effectively.Organization managers or experts decide which parameters are important during the analysis. Theyalso determine the acceptable values for them (for instance, decision makers need to receive the informa-tion from material flows in 2 days).To make the implementation of information flownet in organization effective, the analysis of organi-zation’s information flow net effectiveness should bedone together with analysis of organization structure.Information flow net is mapped by the structure of organization – every action from information flow netthat needs to be processed is implemented by aworkplace in organization. Some work can be made by human, some – by computer. Either way in each 442    The Use of Information Flow Analysis for Building an Effective Organization 443   such workplace of organization human/computer worker implements some elements of informationflow net. The workplaces of organization form anorganization structure.The organization’s information flow net can be im- plemented in different ways. In some organizations,work with information can be fully automated (com- puter-assisted), in others – made only by humans. TheIT means that can be chosen to implement some of information flow net elements also differ by speed,cost and other important factors. Only managers of organization or experts can decide which criteria arethe most important when building an effective organi-zation. For instance, if they choose that the mostimportant factor for them is the time that informationtakes since being registered on material flow points till being given to decision maker fully processed, theycan buy the expensive IT means that will replace someof the human workers and present the information asfast as it is necessary. So the criteria that are used toevaluate the effectiveness of information flow net(Time, Cost and Path) bind to the analysis of organi-zation structure.The effective analysis of information flow net inorganization should include not only the structure of the net itself but some properties of organization aswell. There are parameters that show speed, cost andthe number of human-workers in information flow net,for instance: actual IT means that are used in eachnode of information processes, who – human or com- puter – executes the working tasks (activities). Such parameters should be included in analysis process. Awide variety of other organization parameters mightalso be included in analysis process if the analystsfound them significant. Information flow implementa-tion that suits the expectations of organization mana-gers’ best can be found by changing the values of model parameters.In next sections mathematical models of the aboveare presented. 3. Formal evaluation of organization’sinformation flow net effectiveness In this section, a formal model of the above de-scribed organization’s information flow net effective-ness analysis is presented. The description of themodel is based on the mathematical optimization theo-ry and presented using its notations.The following model evaluates the effectiveness of existing (or designed) information flow net in organi-zation. It also helps to choose between several pos-sible implementations by formal criteria thus enablingthe optimization of it.Organization’s information flow net (and relatedorganization structure) may be presented formally as asystem with feedback relation: data from material flow points ),...,,( 21 nm  M  M  M  M  = are registered inregistration points ( ) nr   R R R R ,...,, 21 = , stored in datastores ),...,,( 21 ns S S S S  = , processed in data proces-sing/analysis points ),..., na  A ,( 21  A A A = and given todecision makers ) nd   D ,...,,( 21  D D D = . The made de-cisions get back as information to the material flows.Two additional functions relate each data flow  F  F  i ∈ , with its sourceand target . Figure 2 shows organization’sinformation flow net. More formal specification is presented in [12].),...,,( 21 nf   F  F  F  F  = )( i  F OUT  )( i  F  IN  … M 1 M 2 M nm … R  1 R  2 R  nr  … S 1 S 2 S ns … A 1 A 2 A na … D 1 D 2 D nd Figure 2 . Organization’s information flow net. Here arrows present information flows  Effectiveness of organization’s information flownet (and related organization structure as well) isevaluated by three formal parameters (introduced inthe above sections): Path  P  , Time T  and Cost C  .  V.Petrauskas 444   Each of them depends on particular informationflow net realization and a set of organization para-meters – i.e. triplet C T  P  ,, is a matrix function of organization’s information flow net and structure parameters Θ : Ω Organization managers or experts (consultants)decide whether the current (being analyzed) realiza-tion of organization information flow net satisfiesthem or not. They need to evaluate either the values of the parameters C T  P  ,, (in this case it’s multiobjec-tive optimization) or the objective function ( ) C T  P  f  ,,. An example of simple objective functionmight be = C T  P  ,, ϕ   , (1)),( ΘΩ here  F S  A R D M  ,,,,, =Ω , ( ) C aT a P aC T  P  f  ⋅+⋅+⋅= 3211 )dim(,,, (2) ( ) n ΘΘΘ=Θ ,...,, 21 .where ∈ i a  R ,3,1 = i .The expression of function ϕ   depends on particular organization and is, in general, unknown. It may befound empirically.The main goal of analysis is to find the implemen-tation that fits the expectations of organizationmanagers’ best.The structure parameters n ΘΘΘ ,...,, 21 , such as ITused for information processing, data structuring de-gree, human/machine ratio in particular workplacedescribe how information flow is implemented  in orga-nization.The most effective (optimal) implementation isfound by solving the optimization problem:min),,( → C T  P  f  , (3) = C T  P  ,, ϕ   ),( ΘΩ ,' Ω∈Ω , k  ΩΩΩ=Ω ,...,,' 21 ,In simple cases they show only the IT solutionsthat are implemented in each place of organizationinformation flow net. Experts in each particular casedecide which parameters and how much of them toinclude into the model. iiiiiii  F S  A R D M  ,,,,, =Ω , k i ,1 = ,' Θ∈Θ , l  ΘΘΘ=Θ ,...,,' 21 , ( ) iniii ΘΘΘ=Θ ,...,, 21 , l i ,1 = , Note that the characteristics (such as time andcost) of each middle point (registration, storing or  processing point) of organizations information flownet may be found from the set of structure parameters.)'dim()dim(  P  P  < ,' T T  < ,' C C  < .Equation (1) shows that by knowing particular organization’s information flow net , values of organization structure parameters and their relation ϕ , we can find the values of the triplet ΩΘ C T  P  ,,.' Ω shows all information flow net implementations being analyzed,' Θ describes all collections of struc-ture parameters being analyzed. The last three in-equalities describe constraints for (respectively) path,time and cost. '  P  , ' T  and are specified by orga-nization managers or experts. They simplify the searchof effective implementation of organization informa-tion flow net. Unconstrained optimization on several parameters might lead to unsolvable optimization problems. Besides, they also show the maximumvalues that the organization managers can afford.' C  Calculated from (1) (either from equations or frommodeling), the values 111 ,, C T  P  are formal estima-tion of effectiveness of existing (or designed) organi-zation’s information flow net.In most cases process of organization’s informa-tion flow analysis consists of several possible imple-mentations. Several implementations can show several possible ways to perform the same tasks – to deliver the processed information from material flow todecision makers. Several might even use the sameinformation flow net structure and only differ in IT being used. However, each implementation comeswith its own values of the triplet C T  P  ,,. Choosingthe best implementation is a problem of multiobjectiveoptimization which can be very difficult to solve. For instance, which implementation is better: 111 ,, C T  P  , 222 ,, C T  P  or  333 ,, C T  P  ) 13 if , < )dim( 1  P  < )dim( 2  P  dim( 3  P  < 2 T T T  << ), ?Here function dim( is the number of elements in  P  ,  P  is a tuple of information storing and processing points the information flows through. 13 C C  << 2 C  P  P  , T  and C  depend on and from (3). Byknowing the expression of  ϕ , the equations of const-raints from (3) might be solved thus eliminating theunsatisfying values from Ω Θ ' Ω and .' Θ Formal descriptions of   P  , T  and are presentedin the next sections. C  4. Qualitative parameters of organizationsinformation flow net In this section the definitions of organization’s in-formation flow qualitative parameters cost, path andtime are presented. It is assumed that the informationflow net has one decision maker. This condition simp-lifies the definitions and is correct because each infor-mation flow net can be decomposed into several netswith one decision maker.
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