Learning Environment for IT Management


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Trabajo desarrollado para crear un ambiente de aprendizaje apoyado con TIC para la Gestión de TI en las organizaciones. Realizado en el año 2010, en el programa de Maestría en Ingeniería, área Sistemas y Computación, Univ. de los Andes.

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Learning Environment for IT Management

  1. 1. LEARNING ENVIRONMENT FOR ORGANIZATIONS IT MANAGEMENT SUPPORTED BY A SIMULATION GAME Olga Lucía Giraldo, Olga Lucero Vega Universidad de los Andes, Carrera 1 Este No 19 A 40, Bogotá, Colombia ogiraldo@uniandes.edu.co, ol.vegam@uniandes.edu.co Juan Erasmo Gómez Universidad de los Andes, Carrera 1 Este No 19 A 40, Bogotá, Colombia jua-gome@uniandes.edu.coKey words: Business Process, Business Process Management- BPM, Business Process Management System -BPMS, Business Process Modeling Notation -BPMN, Virtual Learning Environment, Serious Games, IT Management.Abstract: There is growing evidence about organizational need of aligning business and IT (Gartner, Inc., 2009). This alignment requires special IT managerial skills for understanding business and identifying core processes. Results show that IT governance frameworks can improve the alignment of IT and business. Companies aligning IT with the business and governing IT have higher profits than their competitors, experience shorter time to market, attain better value from their IT investment, have better access to shared data, have less risk of failure of mission-critical systems, have better top management satisfaction of IT -80%-, and have lower IT costs- 25% (Ross, et al., 2006). Nowadays students are trained on general managerial skills in management programs but knowledge about IT governance and tool support is confined to the CxO level, and is not part of undergraduate education. Moreover education of IT governance tools is not feasible for undergraduate students because it involves working with real companies that are not willing to risk their IT investment, or their results on undergraduate student projects. The MIT Sloan School of Management Center for Information Systems Research –CISR proposed a framework of IT Governance that begins by defining an Operating Model a company must implant. The key dimensions of this model are the level of integration and standardization of business processes (Ross, et al., 2006). In this paper we present an ICT supported learning environment to train undergraduate students in IT managerial skills and IT governance tools. With this environment so student can experience how their decisions have an impact on the organizational life cycle and their effectiveness. The main contribution of this work is proposing alternatives to surpass barriers for developing IT managerial skills in IT undergraduate students. Starting with the time barrier, strategic IT decisions have mostly long term impacts; trial and error decision making that is not possible for in real situations; and last, but not least, students bringing into play decisions that expose business continuity without catastrophic consequences.1. INTRODUCTION environments. Case studies are the most used and noteworthy tools to support training on theseDeveloping organizational IT managerial skills in subjects. Nowadays ICT supported learning has beenundergraduate students is challenging. Particularly used to improve education of these types of skillsfor undergraduate IT students who are not aware of (Casallas, et al., 2008 pp. 648-658). Virtual learningthe importance of these skills; they frequently are has many advantages that traditional classroomconfident about their technical skills and knowledge lecturing lacks. Particularly using serious games andbut lack managerial skills. These skills are difficult virtual environments to train specialized skills canto instruct because they can only be deployed in real provide several advantages (Sterman, 2009), (Intel
  2. 2. Corporation, 2009). For example simulating the 2. BACKGROUNDpassage of time much quicker can help illustrate theeffect of actions and decisions on long-term Undergraduate IT programs must adapt curricula thatconsequences; feedback about outcomes of present- include managerial skills for XXI century ITday decisions can be provided immediately; professionals (Brown, et al., 1999). It is alsounderstanding the long-term impact of decisions can mandatory using ICT tools to solve logisticalhelp students achieve their learning objectives. difficulties that hinder student progress. Particularly,Virtual learning environments allow students to these tools are useful to help students applymake erroneous decisions without having organizational concepts. By mastering these conceptscatastrophic consequences (Atiq, et al., 2008). IT professional in their future work will be able toStudents might make the worst decisions possible, focus on generating Business Value from IT- BVIT.understand the behavior of their organization as a An important element to generate BVIT is ITresult, and even lead it to bankruptcy, without fear, governance. Ross, Weill & Robertson propose an ITbut nevertheless learning. They can try out any governance framework based on the operationaldecision, use resources, change goals, and learn. model –OM, the necessary level of businessActing this way in real life exposes and risks the processes standardization and integration forcontinuity of any business (Kriz, 2003). Trial and delivering goods and services to customers (Ross, eterror is not a way to manage a business, but it is an al., 2006). Cruz, Gómez & Giraldo designed aeffective way to learn. Virtual learning spaces serious game to simulate OM deployment (Cruz, etconsent, even more, stimulate exploring many al., 2010). Its focus is organizational effects ofalternatives (Chua, 2005). applying a particularly OM, Diversification, Simulation games present real situations that Coordination, Replication, or Unification, in ashow the value of technical and managerial skills particularly company (Ross, et al., 2006). For ahelping IT students understand the importance of period of time the student becomes the CIO of thiscomplementing their curriculum with managerial company in a specific scenario; she has IT resourcesskills. Training IT student in managerial IT skills is and makes decisions related to the OM implanted inchallenging. Instructors need innovative and rich the company spending IT resources and generatingtools to stimulate students so they become interested incomes. The game simulates the passage of time;in the subject. The goal is linking organizational year after year the student obtains results as aconcepts and IT government elements to develop IT consequence of her decisions. This way the studentmanagerial skills so students, who become learns how IT decisions -OM, have an impact onprofessional managers in the future, have a positive organizational performance.impact business performance. The results show that students understand this Our main objective is developing IT managerial concept, but do not grasp how processes behave inskills on undergraduate IT students from the very real business, how to identify them, what are thebeginning of the curriculum (Cameron, 2008). We main differences from one business to another orbuilt a learning environment, supported by ICT to from an organization to the next one. We perceivedevelop underlying concepts of IT governance. they need more support to understand theSpecifically we focus on business processes cornerstone of OM: business processes.comprehension, modeling and optimization. The work presented in this paper focuses on howwe developed this learning environment. In nextsection we present the background, and the 3. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKtheoretical framework that includes IT managerialconcepts, IT tools used in this work, virtual learning Organizational analysis requires knowledge of itsenvironments, and the LIDIE methodology (Aldana, environment and identification of its competitiveet al., 2003). Afterward we present the learning forces (Porter, 2008), its value chain and its businessenvironment supported with ICT to train students in processes (Porter, 2004). When this analysis isbusiness processes management. Finally we suggest supported by tools, such as Business Processsome future work and present our main conclusions. Management- BPM- tools, professional performance
  3. 3. is improved. Before presenting our work we now necessary for executing process activities. Outputsintroduce these concepts and tools. are results obtained from process execution. Threads are parts of higher level processes. Decisions are points in a process where its behavior changes3.1 IT MANAGEMENT according to specific conditions, points where there are several possible routes within the process. Activities are parts of a business process that do not3.1.1 Competitive forces include decision-making. Modeling a processPorter’s five competitive forces analysis helps includes identifying its activities, decisions, andstrategist understand the structure and interactions break in the order they are executed. Modeling awithin an industry. The five forces are existing process helps understand it, explain it, and identifycompetitors, buyers, suppliers, new entrants, and opportunities for its improvement.substitute. Understanding competitive forces allowsa strategist to propose appropriate plans forachieving company objectives (Porter, 2008). 3.2 IT TOOLS3.1.2 Value chain Business Process Modeling (BPM) is a methodology for improving process efficiency through it holisticThe value chain describes activities of enterprise management by modeling, automating, integrating,processes, illustrating the way an enterprise monitoring and optimizing it continuously. BPMgenerates value to its clients (Porter, 2004). The reduces costs and errors, ensures process behaviorvalue chain has activities directly involved with and informs its status, and supports continuoustransforming raw materials into final products, and process improvement.others activities pervasive to the entire organization. Business Process Management Systems (BPMS)The former are called primary activities, the latter are systems that provide functionalities describedsupport activities. Value chain activities not only add before, delivered as a single package, frequently by avalue by themselves, but also by the way they are single provider.articulated amongst each other. Identifying an Business Process Management Notation (BPMN)organization’s value chain helps improve profit by is a graphic language that portrays the sequences ofallowing application of best practices to increase activities, actors and rules involved in a businessefficiency, to reduce costs, or to increase production. process. There are many implementations, some of which only depict the process, while others generate3.1.3 Business Processes applications directly from the process specification. BPMN Level 1 is the most frequently used tool toThe international standard ISO-9001 defines a interact with business people. (Silver, 2010)process as "an activity that uses resources that ismanaged to transform input in outputs" (ICONTEC,2005 p. 6). Complementing this definition (Hammer,1990) says that business process contains activities 3.3 VIRTUAL LEARNINGwith specific goals, it is carried out collaboratively ENVIRONMENTby workers with different specialties, often crossingborders of functional areas, and is always triggered Virtual learning environments –VLE- use ICT toby external agents or customers. "ease interaction and arbitrate relationships amongst Business processes have goals, owners, inputs, people, knowledge, and the world" (Ospina, 2008).outputs, threads, decisions and activities. Goals are Learning Management Systems –LMS- incorporatethe raison d’être of a process; processes are ICT to articulate components of specific learningdeveloped to achieve them. Owners are the ones scenarios with their own target population,accountable for the behavior of the process and environmental elements and execution conditions.frequently the owner is the person more affected or Typical components of a VLE are virtual learningbenefited by its results. Inputs are resources objects –VLO, wikis, asynchronous forums and
  4. 4. simulation games. VLOs are structures that store 4. WORK DEVELOPMENTknowledge about a specific subject with aneducational purpose that are distributed and accessed We now present the application of the first threethrough the Internet (MEN, 2005). Wikis are stages of the LIDIE methodology to develop ITwebsites that allow editing contents by those that managerial skills in undergraduate students.access them. The best known example is Wikipedia,www.wikipedia.com. Forums are virtual spaces thatallow asynchronous participation of people indiscussions and debates. Simulation games are 4.1 EDUCATIONAL ANALYSISeducational computer games simulating the realworld to develop skills by "learning to do" and To identify the main educational needs we examined"learning to be". Two examples are the Beer Game an IT organization undergraduate course; analyzedof MIT, for teaching principles and management of student course evaluations and surveys; performedsupply chains (Sterman, 2009); and Intel IT Manager teacher interviews; and studied the OM simulationIII to develop skills to manage and implement IT game (Cruz, et al., 2010).technologies in enterprises (Intel Corporation, The course we selected is an organizational2009). design using ICT course. Figure 2 shows its learning sequence; case study is the preferred learning technique. This course was selected because it covers IT governance topics and helps develop foundations3.4 METHODOLOGY to understand how generate value using IT.We decide to use the LIDIE methodology, Figure 1, Lecture Statement - Motivationbecause it focuses on developing learning - Concept Exposition - Case Studyenvironments supported by ICT, and it is linked to - Exemplification - Elaborative interrogativesSoftware Engineering Education (Galvis, 2000). Face-to-face "Case Study" Class Educational Autonomous Mandatory Analysis Collaborative Optional Figure 2: Current sequence learning. Pilot Test Field Test Desing We obtained student course evaluation and surveys over four semesters from 2008 and 2009; figure 3 shows student perception of significant learning topics. According to the surveys, the least Evaluation Development significant learning topic for students is “Strategic IT: Business alignment”. We interviewed former lecturers of the course for Figure 1: LIDIE Methodology (Galvis, 2000). these same periods. Their perception was similar to student insights from the surveys: students are not The LIDIE methodology defines six stages; its able to bridge IT strategic topics. Students do notapplication includes stages iteration for continuous understand how the OM is the base for enterpriseimprovement. The analysis identifies educational architecture, nor they are able to recognize thatneeds; the design stage focuses on satisfying these enterprise architecture is sustained using an ITneeds; in the development stage we use ICT to governance framework, and that IT governance isimplant the designed solution. Finally the evaluation, entrenched via best practices, which helps achievepilot and field test stages assess the quality of the strategic use of IT: Business alignment.solution and infrastructure, and its deployment. Cruz developed the OM simulation game (Cruz, et al., 2010). Our future works will focus on executing a whole iteration of this game and
  5. 5. performing pilot and field tests. To play this game, learning sequences, one for basic concepts andstudents must have basic organizational concepts, but another for business process. Both learningnot all do. Therefore we turn our attention to sequences begin with the lecturer presenting rulesorganizational analysis and business processes and support tools for the course, and achievingmastering, considering that using ICT could solve commitment from students in virtual and face-to-faceeducational needs related to those concerns. This spaces. The learning sequences are supported in aobjective drives the design phase (Barbera, et al., Learning Management Systems- LMS.2005). 4.2.1 Learning sequence for basic concepts Figure 4 shows the proposed learning sequence. Details Students work in groups of three to five students. The first step is the lecture, a face-to-face moment. During class, the lecturer presents core concepts, origin, importance, and application in a case. We recommend lecturers support this activity with elaborative interrogations and digital presentations. Elaborative interrogations encourage students to find more information about the organization in the case and its industry to better comprehend organizational concepts, industry behavior, Porters Forces, value chain, and business Figure 3: Students perception of significant topics in processes (Hill, 1994). Organizational Design with ICT. The second step is the Statement, a virtual moment. Using the LMS students have access to a case study, elaborative interrogatives, a wiki for each4.2 DESIGN group, Virtual Learning Objects -VLO, and two forums. The objective is for them to work on a caseIn the Design stage we focus on developing students study similar to the one presented during lectures.skills to set organization industry characteristics, Elaborative interrogatives motivate students toPorters Forces actors, organizational value chain analyze the organization and publish results in theirprocesses, and business processes. We propose two Figure 4: Learning sequence for basic concepts.
  6. 6. wiki. Elaborative interrogatives motivate students to her assistant are invited to participate in forums, butanalyze the organization and publish results in their this is not mandatory.wiki. Group wikis are private group spaces to The last step is the Case Study Class, the 2nd face-construct knowledge and publish results. VLOs are to-face moment. The lecturer begins this classprivate student space to reinforce learning. Forums are addressing the concerns of students. Afterward shemeeting spaces for students to develop discussions. argues the concepts related to the case study to Group wikis, with a pre-defined structure, include discuss, in plenary, their application. She must alsospaces that groups should use to store results of bring into discussion the results and ideas the groupsorganizational analysis. At the very beginning wikis published in their wikis. Then lecturer must publish inare empty, but have a template to guide their the course wiki selected group results, particularlyorganization. As the course progresses, students must those closer or divergent from the proposed solution.develop their wikis to include new topics. Then students can consult these solutions when VLO are grasping spaces about specific concepts pertinent.that have other smaller case studies and questions to The lecturer evaluates student using the documentsincrease student understanding of specific aspects by published in the group wikis. In this way students areapplying concepts. The students interact with the VLO externally motivated to review the case before groupby recoding their answers to elaborative interrogatives. discussions and participate in the construction of theAs a result the VLO will present a comparison group wikis. As a collateral result students developbetween their answers and those made by a team of collaborative work skills. We expect the VLE to helpexperts. The students must analyze differences and increase student involvement because their objective issimilarities. These VLO are similar to the trainers of to increase student preparation and review of conceptsthe Cupi2 project (Villalobos, et al., 2009). and subjects before class. Each group also has two forums available: VLOforum and wiki forum. Students can share their 4.2.2 Learning Sequence for Businessconcerns and questions in these spaces. The lecturer or Process Figure 5: Learning Sequence for Business Process with the simulation game. One of the main objectives of IT management in Figure 3. For this reason we decided to focus onorganizations is strategic alignment between business improving education of process skills management.and IT. During the analysis stage strategic alignment The main skills we want to develop are:was rated by students as the least significant topic, Business Processes identification and description.
  7. 7. Process actors, activities and events The learning sequence, Figure 5, begins with a identification class where lecturer introduces business processes Process design with BPMN. concepts. Afterward the student must solve a Process optimization concepts. problem from a case study- define a statement about an organization and how it does its job- using the To train students in the first three skills we VLE. Students must identify and describe the maindefined a learning sequence similar to the sequence organizational business processes. In the next stepproposed for basic concept, Figure 4. To develop the lecturer defines and describes a process. Theprocess optimization skills, we propose including it students must identify its components and depictin the Cruz simulation game (Cruz, et al., 2010). them using BPMN as shown in Figure 6. Figure 6: Purchases v1.0 (Vision Software, 2010) Students will find a VLO and a forum supporting the game would simulate changes students proposetheir learning activities; after they answer teacher’ and shows their impact. This includes simulating thequestion the VLO displays a business processes execution of the process over long periods of timedefined by experts. We suggest the lecturer uses a and generating indicators. We propose thewidely known business process such as "internet wholesaler industry as a game scenario (Rubio,shopping", "credit study", or "billing". Students are 2009) because it is a global and enough documentedfamiliar with these kinds of processes, and are example. Main activities in the wholesaler/retail areusually included in the knowledge base of BPM tools designing product and process, buying, making,(Vision Software, 2010). Development and selling, and managing a business (MIT, 2003).deployment of these VLOs is similar to those Wholesaler industry is a good selection for a seriousproposed in previous sections. game: arguments, knowledge and pedagogic element Actually Cruz simulation game focuses on are easily built using in this example (Aldrich, 2009).organizational impact of operational model- OM. For designing the business process, BizagiThe game elements are staff, infrastructures and (Vision Software, 2010) provides a design tool withsoftware, and change; its costs and benefits a business process repository and examples such asdetermine the impact of OM in organizational the purchase process documented, Figure 6, and weperformance. During the game students choose the decide using it, as a pedagogic element in ourappropriate OM, so they must determine the simulation game (Aldrich, 2009). When changed, thenecessary level of business processes standardization simulation game will present students this processand integration. Then they require abilities to and will ask them accomplish a strategic objective,identify, describe, design, and optimize processes. and present metrics described later. Students must We propose that the game manage business propose process improvements and the simulationprocess and feedback about processes optimization; game shows the results of this improvement.
  8. 8. Improving a process requires an investment. The 4.3 DEVELOPMENT ANDstudent must keep in mind the benefits expected ofthis investment, i.e. the return of the project, so they EVALUATIONcan compare it with other possible investments. Forexample, the student analyses an inefficient purchase During development stage we implemented the basicprocess; each time an order is authorized, the concepts sequence learning on the Moodle LMSPurchasing Department must request quotes from environment (Dougiamas, 1991). This project issuppliers and wait for their responses to select the available with user est001/isis1401* frombest proposal and then complete the Order. The game http://backus.uniandes.edu.co/~ol.vegam/moodle.presents strategies pointed by the business, available We selected as example a construction company.resources, Porter’s forces and value chain and We developed a Concept VLO with interrogations tocurrent metrics of this process. If the student help students reinforce concept comprehensionunderstands the organizational analysis, she can related to value chain and competitive forces. Thechoose to implement an automatic request for Group Wiki of this learning sequence has thepurchase, eliminating the quotes step each time an structure and elements presented in Figure 7.order is authorized. This automatic request needs a Company’s name and logosupplier registration, qualifications and pre-approved Description & historyprices. Her initiative must be inspired in the narrativeof suppliers’ force of the Porter’s Forces provided by Organization chart Geographic Localizationthe game. The simulation will show her that process Mission, Visionexecuted in this way reduce time. If she does not Strategic objectivesunderstand the Porter’s Forces she could erroneously Porter’s forcesthink that doing online purchase request would o Diagramimprove the process. Contrary to her expectations, o Competitors o New competitorthe simulation shows that process resulted in worst o Customersindicators because adding online implementation o Providerscosts, without improvement in time, has a negative o Substitutesimpact on her organization. To incorporate in the simulation game a businessprocess performance measurement, we propose to Figure 7 Wiki Structureuse (Mogollon, et al., 2004) formula to calculate theROI of a process improvement: Evaluation of the VLE was done including ROI= CurrentProcessCost-NewProcessCost+OtherBenefits education quality, usability and viability using the Cost to Implement the Project evaluation guidelines proposed in (Galvis, 2000). For educational issues the results showed that Formula 1: ROI for a process (Mogollon, et al., 2004) learning objectives are adequately covered by the Current Process Cost, New Process Cost and Cost learning environment sequence implemented; thatto Implement the Project are calculated according learning strategies are pertinent; and that studentsindicators already in use in the simulation game. The sometimes choose not to use VLO. DuringOther Benefits must be calculated adding tangible evaluation we realized that we can gatherand intangible benefits. The former refers to benefits information about student behavior regardingfor which monetary value can be easily assigned; the difficulties and achievements. This informationlatter refers to those which monetary value is would be useful for the lecturer to guide her lessons.difficult to assign. From (Mogollon, et al., 2004) we Concerning usability results showed that ouruse, for tangibles: sales increase, production increase VLE is easy to use, instructions are clear, rolesand reduction of operating cost; and for intangibles: (student, lecturer, and assistant) are clearlymanagerial know-how and improved employee differentiable, and maintenance is easy. Viabilitymorale. These cost calculation rules must be was assessed using the VLE in an undergraduatepresented to students so they can understand the class laboratory, results were satisfactory.simulation process results.
  9. 9. The implementation was evaluated by peers who 6. CONCLUSIONSwere selected to evaluate proposals for learningenvironments supported by ICT, in a project IT management is critical to achieve improvedcompetition. They used the LMS platform as a results in any business. Development of ITstudent and give us comments, suggestions and managerial skills in undergraduate IT students isquestions. Their opinions were that the interfaces are mandatory to create a management force capable ofattractive and the implementation is consistent with achieving this. Using a traditional learningthe proposed design. Several pairs made questions environment it is very difficult to achieve thisabout time elapsed between virtual and face to face learning objective. Students nowadays are digitalmoments, because it seen that students must do a lot natives; our initiative is an opportunity to takeof work from one to another moment. This should advantage of this.require more time than was used in the traditional We have presented an integrated learningclassroom. environment that uses LMS, VLO, forums, wikis and a simulation game to support the development of IT managerial skills in undergraduate IT students. The5. FUTURE WORK LMS incorporates ICT in a natural and controlled way. Each ICT has a specific educational objective;Currently pilot evaluations and field testing has not VLO reinforce basic organizational and businessbeen done. We must complete the examples on the process management concepts; thematic forumsbasic concept learning sequence, and develop the provide a meeting place for students to expressbusiness process learning sequence. The former concerns, successes and to share their learningrequires TIGER rubric specification to assess the experiences; Wikis make possible collaborativewiki groups of organizational analysis (Galvis, work; the simulation game develops managerial2007). The business process learning sequence must skills to optimize business processes.be developed. The biggest challenge is to adapt the A collateral benefit of LMS implementation issimulation game incorporating the proposed business the gathering information about student behavior ofprocess issue. We must use experience in the field of their autonomous work. With this information weserious game generation (Casallas, et al., 2008 pp. can identify challenges and achievements of648-658). We must also decide on how to use the students.results of the simulation game as part of student The incorporation of ICT tools in learningevaluation. environment proposed in this work is aligned with Other future work includes recollecting results of developments in the real world. Students using ourour work, to provide students with a summarized learning environment will be better skilled to exploitexercise. Each semester students develop a project. these tools in their future work and helpWe recommend that students choose a target organizations improve their usage of these tools.enterprise from a list offered by the lecturer or anenterprise of particular interest to them. In both casesthe enterprise must be a successful business, REFERENCESpreferably with local presence, and for whichextensive information is available. Aldana, María F., Arango, Martha L.; Leal, Diego E.; Additionally we must gather information from López, Esperanza; Osorio, Luz A.; Salazar, Ana M..the VLE about student concerns for the lecturer and 2003. Metodología para la Construcción de Ambienteshelp him use this feedback to. Virtuales como Soporte para la Educación Presencial Finally, we want other IT undergraduate schools de la Universidad de los Andes. Revista de Ingeniería,and IT management programs to use our VLE in Univ.de los Andes,Bogotá. 2003, 18.their courses; therefore other future work is adapting Aldrich, Clark. 2009. The Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games: How the Most Valuable Contentthe environment to these target users. Will be Created in the Age Beyond Gutenberg to Google. San Francisco, Pfeiffer, 2009.
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