The first version of KMDL® was developed by Professor Dr.-Ing. Norbert Gronau at the University of Oldenburg. The motivation for the development was the lack of appropriate methods to model knowledge intensive business processes. When announced chair holder of the Chair of Business Information Systems and Electronic Government at the University of Potsdam, KMDL® was further developed by the Knowledge Management Group. Besides the elaboration of a modeling method, a procedural model as well as mechanism to analyse potentials were developed - resulting in KMDL® v1.1. KMDL® v1.1 has been deployed successfully in various research and commercial projects. In the recently finished research project M-WISE (The project has been founded by the BMBF – The German Ministry of Education and Research) KMDL® was advanced in particular for its use in software development - resulting in the KMDL® derivate KMDL-SE. The corresponding requirements were identified during the joint research project.
Due to the experiences gained in various research and commercial projects as well as through the resulting requirements for a modeling language for knowledge intensive business processes, KMDL® v2.0 has been developed. Many improvements were introduced in of KMDL® 2.0, like for example extended knowledge conversions. Elements of the modeling language as well as their relationships and attributes were formalised, the language itself was simplified. Through the introduction of Information Systems, an integrative analysis of all knowledge management activities is possible.
The three existing versions of the KMDL® were merged to one KMDL®-Version 2.1, that was called KMDL®v2.2 after a couple of modification. By this step it is possible to combine the activity-oriented conversions of KMDL v2.0 and the process-orientated tasks from KMDL® v1.1. In this combination the description language is more expressive then before and can describe a broader application area.
In the following, KMDL® basics and concepts will be presented. KMDL® (Knowledge Modeling and Description Language) is a description language to model knowledge intensive business processes. By studying the origin of knowledge and information objects as well as the knowledge flow, conclusions about the generation of knowledge and information objects can be drawn. This approach is of particular importance for knowledge intensive business processes, because knowledge (like every other factor of production) can be used by businesses only after it has been generated or acquired. As opposed to conventional languages for business processes modeling, which mainly consider explicit knowledge, KMDL® also facilitates the visualization of tacit knowledge. Thus, the complete organisational knowledge basis can be represented. The method of KMDL® currently includes
- The concept which delimits the system to be modeled.
- The description language which specifies the size of the model
- The process model which defines the modeling, analysis and evaluation
Besides the identification of process improvements potentials, one of the intentions of KMDL® is to facilitate knowledge management activities directly where value is being added. Furthermore, existing knowledge conversions can be used as an indicator to evaluate the corporate culture, e.g. like the corporate knowledge exchange, the scale of externalised knowledge in the process cycle and the use of existing knowledge management systems.
This chapter describes and discusses the updates and changes comparing the current with previous versions of KMDL®. The continuous development of KMDL® led to a further formalisation of the language. Thereby, the relationships between individual objects and the entity-relationship-diagram were extended.
The introduction of abstraction concepts, like generalisation / specialization, aggregation and composition for example allow a detailed and extensive modeling. KMDL® v2.0 explicitly focuses on the description language and less on object implementation. In KMDL® v2.0 some KMDL® v1.1 objects are not available anymore, though other objects have been added, like for example: information system, function, listener, indefinite person and comment. The object role is available only as an individual or team attribute now.
This new version focuses on the differing and versatile representation of knowledge conversions. In the previous version (1.1), tasks consisted of a variety of conversions which have not been closely analysed. The semantic of the earlier tasks was changed into conversions or process steps respectively. Knowledge and information objects can both be part of a conversation. The differentiated view on the knowledge conversions allows a much more expressive modeling of knowledge intensive processes. Four conversation types (atomic, complex, abstract, indefinite) as well as five kinds of conversation (internalisation, externalisation, combination, socialisation, indefinite) can be found. Additionally, conversion methods for each conversion type are introduced. Requirements of conversion were differentiated. Currently, there are five kinds of requirements: social, professional, methodical, operational and technical. The first four requirements can be met by persons as well as by teams, that means that also knowledge objects contain these characteristics. Technical requirements can only be fulfilled by information systems or by their functions respectively. Furthermore KMDL® 2.0 allows for the representation of collective knowledge. Within the complete modeled process, comments can be added and conversions restricted through listener or general constraints.
With the enhanced KMDL v2.1 and KMDL v2.2, the two previous versions (1.1 and 2.0) were connected to each other and the objects of KMDL v1.1 and v2.0 were assigned to the views of the current version (process-based and activity-based-view). The process-based-view keeps strongly with the former KMDL v1.1 and the activity-based-view is nearly identical to the KMDL v2.0. On the process layer the workflow will be modeled - on this layer roles and information systems can already be modeled. The activity-based-view enables the analysis of knowledge intensive tasks. On this layer knowledge conversions of the KMDL v2.0 are available. Thus a connection to the process-flow was made, but nevertheless it is possible to examine knowledge-intensive tasks. The communication-based-view enable to model and to analyse the contact between people, departments, groups of people within one organisation. So it is possible to detemine the structure of communication and to identify important person as so called "keyuser".