The STAPS Method
Process-taylored Introduction of Knowledge Management Solutions
Christoph Sigmanek and Birger Lantow
University of Rostock, Albert-Einstein-Str.22, 18051 Rostock, Germany
Keywords: Knowledge Management, Business Process Oriented Knowledge Management, Knowledge Management
System, Best Practices, Method.
Abstract: Nowadays, knowledge is recognized as an important enterprise resource. Thus, knowledge management is
perceived as a necessary management task. Process oriented knowledge management is an approach that
aligns knowledge management with the requirements of knowledge intensive processes. However, existing
approaches to the implementation of process oriented knowledge management either operate on a very high
abstraction level, incorporating much effort for operationalization in practice or on a very detailed level
concentrating on process modelling. This paper introduces the STAPS method for the process oriented
analysis and implementation of knowledge management solutions. It allows the assessment of already existing
knowledge management solutions, the adoption of new solutions based on best practises, and a tailoring to
organizational needs. In a case study, the applicability of STAPS is proved.
Nowadays, knowledge is recognized as an important
enterprise resource. Thus, knowledge management is
perceived as a necessary management task. Here,
business process oriented knowledge management
aims at the ways of dealing with knowledge as well
as requirements for knowledge and knowledge
activities (use, production, and transfer of
knowledge) in business processes. Remus puts
knowledge-intensive business processes in the focus
of a process-oriented knowledge management
(Remus 2002, p.108). Here lies the biggest success
potential for knowledge management.
Knowledge intensive business processes are
commonly found in knowledge-intensive domains
and are characterized by a high degree of complexity.
Control flow varies widely, so that a high
coordination and communication effort is required.
Knowledge-intensive processes are often poorly
structured, show a high number of participants
(experts), and are difficult to plan. Due to their nature,
it is difficult to reassign tasks to different individuals
(Remus 2002, pp. 104-117). Heisig sees as the most
relevant criterion of knowledge-intensive processes
that required knowledge can be planned ahead only
in a limited manner (Heisig 2002).
Therefore, planning and organizing knowledge
management with regard to these processes should
rather consider modelling the context of knowledge
intensive processes than modelling the processes
themselves in detail. For example, there are
approaches to knowledge intensive process
modelling that omit control flows or remain at a very
abstract level (Sigmanek and Lantow 2015).
Most organizations have already some knowledge
sharing solutions. In the most primitive way this is a
shared file storage and of course a regular meeting.
Additionally, not all processes within an organization
are knowledge intensive and not all knowledge
intensive processes need special support or can be
improved compared to existing solutions. Thus, a
method for the introduction of a knowledge
management solution should start with an assessment
of the organization’s processes, existing knowledge
management solutions and the context of knowledge
intensive processes. Looking into existing approaches
for the introduction of knowledge management
solutions, they mostly fail in one aspect (Sigmanek
and Lantow 2015): KMDL (Gronau 2004)
concentrates on a very detailed process model. KPR
(Allweyer 1998, pp. 163 - 168) remains on a strategic
level and does not consider existing solutions.
PROMOTE (Hinkelmann et al. 2002, pp. 65 - 68)
mainly focuses on IT support for knowledge
Sigmanek, C. and Lantow, B.
The STAPS Method - Process-taylored Introduction of Knowledge Management Solutions.
DOI: 10.5220/0006049901810189
In Proceedings of the 8th International Joint Conference on Knowledge Discovery, Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management (IC3K 2016) - Volume 3: KMIS, pages 181-189
ISBN: 978-989-758-203-5
2016 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
managements but does not consider process context.
KIPN (França et al., 2013) just provides a notation for
process modelling and analysis. GPO-WM (Heisig
2002, pp. 47 59) looks into the context of processes
and suggests best practises for known knowledge
management related problems. However, GPO-WM
does not consider existing solutions, does not allow
much tailoring.
In contrast, STAPS (Scoping-Tayloring-
Analysis-Problem-Solving) starts with an analysis of
process context and existing knowledge management
solutions. Furthermore, it compares the
organization’s setup with best practise solutions for
knowledge management. There is still a need for a
methodology that helps small and medium sized
enterprises dealing with knowledge management
(Borchardt et al. 2014). Due to thigh adaptability of
STAPS, the method is also fit for these settings. A
major mechanism to ensure this is the tailoring as part
of the method.
In the following, this paper presents an overview
of relevant best practises in knowledge management
in section 2. Section 3 then describes the STAPS
method. A case study that shows the applicability of
STAPS is sketched in section 4. Finally, section 5
draws conclusions und makes suggestions for further
steps regarding research and implementation of
There are two aspects regarding best practises in
knowledge management. First, knowledge
management must contribute to organisational
success. Thus, appropriate knowledge management
functions and IT as well as organizational solutions
that implement these functions need to be identified.
Second, knowledge management will only be
successful in the right organizational context (Lehner
et al. 2007). Hence, success factors for knowledge
management regarding management and culture in
organisations have to be considered.
2.1 Knowledge Management Solutions
A lot of business processes contain unproductive
efforts. These efforts result from search times, errors,
double work, and loss of knowledge. Knowledge
management can contribute to the organizational
success by reducing or avoiding them. Another
benefit of knowledge management is an increased
product quality by revealing process knowledge and
making processes controllable. (Bergrath et al. 2004,
pp. 115-116)
Aiming at these benefits, a set of questions that
need to be answered for the implementation of
knowledge management can be derived:
How can
search times be reduced?
knowledge be found?
double work be avoided?
explicit knowledge be stored?
knowledge loss be avoided?
knowledge be transferred?
And additionally:
What IT-support exists for knowledge
In the following, each of these questions is addressed.
How can search times be reduced? Here, the
reasons for search times are important. Search for
knowledge is necessary when a worker does not carry
the knowledge that is required for performing his or
her task. Thus, the required knowledge needs to be
identified, found and transferred to the worker. Best
practise solutions provide functionality that supports
the search for knowledge carriers. This leads to the
next question.
How can knowledge be found? It is essential to
have a systematic way to structure the knowledge.
Thus, documents containing knowledge and
knowledge carriers must be connected consistently to
this knowledge structure. This structure can be
created using taxonomies, folksonomies, or
ontologies. Furthermore, this structure needs to be
maintained, knowledge must be accessible and
processible in order to foster the use of respective
knowledge management solutions. (Probst et al.
2012, pp. 197-221)
A best practise solution in this area are yellow
pages, making domain experts identifiable (Probst et
al. 2012, pp. 65-91; Stocker and Tochtermann 2010,
p. 117). Another solution is a central helpdesk that
automatically classifies requests using text analysis
methods. Having such a system as a single point of
entry, user specific views can be generated which also
contribute to a reduction of search times by pushing
relevant knowledge to the right workers (Heck 2002,
p. 171-183). Other solutions that help finding
knowledge are: project data bases, search engines,
data base management systems, content management
systems, and forums (Bredehorst et al. 2013, p.6).
How can double work be avoided? Double work
happens for example when content is maintained
separately at several locations. Party, this redundancy
is intended. However, in a lot of cases it is unwanted.
KMIS 2016 - 8th International Conference on Knowledge Management and Information Sharing
Figure 1: The STAPS method components.
A first step in avoiding double work is supporting the
search for knowledge as described for the previous
question. In addition, groupware systems and job
rotation are solution in order to avoid double work
(Bredehorst et al. 2013, p.6).
How can explicit knowledge be stored? Here, the
focus lies on quality of the stored knowledge. One
important aspect is the representation of knowledge.
There is no best way. A video for example can capture
movements while a full text search in a video is nearly
impossible. Thus, the appropriate representation
depends on the domain. However, techniques for
automated and semi-automated analysis and tagging
of streaming formats exist. Another aspect of
knowledge quality is the aging of knowledge.
Outdated knowledge must be removed from the
knowledge base. And at last, noise is a factor to pay
attention to. When capturing knowledge, the fraction
of irrelevant parts in the data set should be low in
order to support the use of knowledge (Bergrath et al.
2004, pp. 124-125). This includes audio and video
streams as well as e-mail communication containing
emails that are “off-topic”,
How can knowledge loss be avoided? Besides
appropriate storing of knowledge, knowledge
monopolies should be avoided. Hence, overlapping
personal knowledge bases of employees reduce the
knowledge loss if an employee becomes unavailable.
Furthermore, the knowledge structure should be
analysed for monopolies (Pogorzelska 2009, pp. 56-
60, 78-79).
If several individuals incorporate the same
organizational role a knowledge exchange between
all of them is important. Knowledge transfer is always
connected with a loss of knowledge. This is true
especially for a knowledge transfer via third and
fourth persons. Therefore, flat hierarchies are
suggested (Pogorzelska 2009, pp. 59-68). Further-
more, business processes should be structured in a
way that an employee carries the complete knowledge
that is needed to perform the process activities that
are assigned to him or her. Otherwise, knowledge
transfers would be necessary and a loss of knowledge
within the process execution is likely. However, in
many cases such a structure is not possible for
knowledge intensive processes. Thus, forming teams
that name responsibles for knowledge topics within
the teams is suggested (Bergrath et al. 2004, pp. 130).
How can knowledge be transferred? Transferring
complex knowledge, a collective memory performs
better than an individual one. Therefore, complex
knowledge should be transferred from one group to
another (Probst et al. 2012, pp. 197-221).
Other tasks of knowledge transfer are the
exchange of expert knowledge and of implicit
knowledge. If expert knowledge should be
transferred, techniques like knowledge relay (Stocker
and Tochtermann 2010, p. 117) and expert debriefing
are suggested.
For the transfer of implicit knowledge, a triad talk
is suggested (Dick 2010, pp. 375-378). In a triad talk,
domain expert and knowledge receiver work together
The STAPS Method - Process-taylored Introduction of Knowledge Management Solutions
Table 1: STAPS guiding questions.
Knowledge Management Solution
Knowledge Resource or Carrier
Communication Channel
Is this solution known and
Is this resource/carrier known and
What is the fraction of relevant
Is the way access known?
How are the response times?
What is the probability of overseeing
Has the solution been used?
Is this resource/carrier frequently
What information/knowledge is lost?
Was the solution helpful
How is the provided knowledge
Is the knowledge consistent at sender
and receiver side?
How was the solution applied?
What is done to improve knowledge
with a moderator. If the transfer process is planned to
last for a longer period of time, an additional expert
(mentor) may be assigned (Maier 2007, p.169).
What IT-support exists for knowledge
management? Maier (2007, pp. 548-563) identifies 7
functional areas: (1) Search, (2) Presentation, (3)
Publication, (4) Acquisition, (5) Communication, (6)
Cooperation, and (7) E-Learning. There are several
application systems that provide the respective
functionalities. Each of them has specific strengths
and weaknesses. Generally, knowledge management
systems combine several if not all of these
2.2 Management and Culture
As already stated, the success of knowledge
management implementations depends on the
organizational context. For example, the knowledge
management assessment tool which was developed
by the American Productivity & Quality Center
(APQC) can be used to check these factors (North
2011, p. 200).
Lehner et al. (2007) analysed success factors of
knowledge management in a multi case study (64
cases). They defined measurable indicators for
success in the areas management and culture.
Management subsumes the engagement of
management representatives for knowledge
management while Culture addresses the behaviour
and attitude of employees towards knowledge
management as well as their involvement in
knowledge management processes. Example
indicators are (Lehner et al., 2007, pp. 27-34):
1. Knowledge Management is actively lived
2. Knowledge Management is financially
1. Meetings are conducted face-to-face
2. Culture of knowledge sharing
A complete list can be found in the named source.
In the following, the STAPS method is presented. It
has been developed in order to have a method for the
introduction of knowledge management solutions
that can be tailored to the needs of an organization.
Thus, there is no organization wide major step to an
integrated knowledge management system required
as suggested by Allweyer (1998), nor is STAPS just
providing a notation for knowledge intensive
processes. Existing knowledge management
solutions can be improved and the scope of analysis
can be set to single processes and organizational units
based on STAPS. Thus, STAPS is also a valuable tool
for small and medium sized companies. Furthermore,
STAPS uses the best practices for knowledge
management as described in section 2 in order to
provide means for analysis and for the creation of an
action plan in order to solve found problems.
STAPS consists of the following phases: (1)
Scoping (2) Tailoring (3) Analysis (4) Problem and
(5) Solving (see figure 1). Each of them is described
in a separate subsection.
3.1 Scoping
The Goal of the Scoping Phase is to determine
processes, tools, and possibilities for the further
analysis of knowledge management solutions. This
phase is divided into four method components: (1)
Initial Workshop; (2) Observation; (3) Assessment of
Knowledge Management Tools and (4) Scope
Initial Workshop. The initial workshop is used to
provide an overview of the domain und the business
activities of the analysed organization. Additionally,
first problems perceived by the management are
collected. A second function of the workshop is
KMIS 2016 - 8th International Conference on Knowledge Management and Information Sharing
getting to know each other and to form a base for
cooperation throughout the analysis project.
Observation. Since the initial workshop is held
with participants on management level, it is likely that
the subjective view of a few representatives prevails.
Furthermore, not all information to determine the
scope of a detailed analysis can be gathered. Thus,
business process execution is observed and compared
to the results of the initial workshop. The observation
is used to determine roles, their responsibilities and
their usage of information systems, especially those
that implement knowledge management
functionality. The observation can be undertaken
either in-place or in form of a workshop where typical
work activities are demonstrated and explained.
Knowledge management tools. In this step the
currently used knowledge management tools are
assessed. They are categorized regarding
functionality (see section 2.1, What IT-support exists
for knowledge management?) and their usage in
business processes. The resulting map of knowledge
management tools helps to identify areas that need
deeper analysis and to transform general STAPS-
questionnaires to organization specific instances. For
example, “How do [workflow management systems]
support your daily work? turns into „How does JIRA
support your daily work?”. Thus, interviewees do not
need to know workflow management systems in
general but only the concrete systems they use.
Scope Definition. Here, process parts are
identified, that should be part of further analysis. This
assessment considers two dimensions. First,
relevance of knowledge within in the processes or
process parts needs to be considered. The basic
question is whether knowledge management
solutions are the right tool to improve process
performance. Knowledge intensity within the
processes is determined using a questionnaire based
on the work of Remus (2002). Second, the
organizational priorities have to be taken into
account. Thus, identified knowledge intensive
processes are prioritized.
The Scoping results in a list of processes or
process parts that will be subject of further analysis.
3.2 Tailoring
The Tailoring is the second phase of STAPS. It
consists of the method components (1) Analysis
Strategy; (2) External Domain Analysis; (3) Internal
Domain Analysis and (4) Modelling of Knowledge
Analysis Strategy. A further tailoring of the
STAPS process to the organization and its goals is
done. The analysis strategy determines time frame,
resources, and cooperation forms for the analysis
project. Additionally, the core goals of the analysis
need to be set. This comes together with expectations
for the outcome and management commitment to the
analysis project. Missing management commitment is
a common cause for failed knowledge management
related projects. The goal of the STAPS project
should be aligned with the organizational goals in this
External Domain Analysis. Sector specific
processes and knowledge management solutions are
analysed and transferred to the organizational
context. Literature analysis is used in order to find
reference processes. The general goal of this method
component is the use of the advantages provided by
reference models (for example ITIL 2011). They
should contain best practice solutions and they can be
used for communication regarding sector specific
terms and their semantics. Thus, the internal analysis
is supported by the use of a common vocabulary. If
there are no reference models there is still the same
potential in collecting sector specific knowledge
regarding processes and terms.
Internal Domain Analysis. Here, the organization
itself and cross-process aspects are analysed.
Regarding organizational structure and culture, there
is a focus on reasons for employee fluctuation and on
inhibitors/catalysts of knowledge sharing.
Furthermore, important terms and concepts are
collected and mapped to existing reference models
and to business processes.
Modelling Knowledge Intensive Processes.
Knowledge intensive processes and their variants are
modelled with a role perspective. The interviews for
gathering the required information are tailored based
on the results of the scoping phase (map of knowledge
management tools) and the domain analyses
(reference processes, reference terms, and
organizational structure). Knowledge carriers are
identified. Activities that produce or require
knowledge collected as well as the typical ways of
knowledge transfer connected to these activities.
STAPS intentionally does not use an instance
based model of knowledge intensive processes as
suggested for KMDL. This is because, the
transferability of the analysis results would be
compromised if just the situation of a single subject
would be modelled. Furthermore, no special notation
for process modelling is required. As shown by
França et al. (2012), existing modelling notations for
business processes cover a majority of modelling
requirements for knowledge intensive processes (e.g.
EPC, BPMN). Missing elements can be added.
The STAPS Method - Process-taylored Introduction of Knowledge Management Solutions
Another argument for not using special notations lies
in the better understandability and utility of the
models for the organisation’s representatives if a
common modelling notation is used.
The result of modelling knowledge intensive
processes is an as-is-model that can be further
analysed. The model contains the processes and their
context for further analysis.
3.3 Analysis
In analogy to GPO-WM WM (Heisig 2002), STAPS
uses guiding questions for the identification of
problems. Due to the restrictions regarding
modelling, formal reports as suggested for KMDL are
not considered. Instead, the method of critical events
is used (Trier and Müller 2014). It also provides a
more objective view on the processes. Not all
problems related to knowledge intensive business
processes are addressable by knowledge management
solutions. Some problems may be solved by classical
business process optimization techniques (see below)
which is also part of STAPS. In consequence, the
analysis phase has the method components (1)
process Oriented Survey; (2) Business Process
Optimization and (3) Critical Events.
Process Oriented Survey. For the interviews, the
method for the assessment of knowledge intensive
processes by Trier and Müller (2004) has been
adopted and significantly extended. Additionally, a
focus on the quality of knowledge transfer has been
set. Figure 2 shows the conceptual model of
knowledge transfer quality. It shows, that search
times increase due to insufficient transparency and
knowledge quality. Loss of knowledge occurs in the
communication channels. Thus, these aspects became
part of the questionnaire. The questionnaire is
considered to be process oriented because it starts
with the understanding of the process before
addressing knowledge management issues based on
it. This part of the questionnaire is shown in table 1.
The questions consider knowledge solutions,
carriers/resources and communication channels with
a specific sub-set of questions. The questions are
going to be applied to all relevant entities that have
been identified in the tailoring phase. However, the
focus is not only on Problems but considers all
aspects of a SWOT analysis. A complete picture of
the processes should be created this way. In the next
phases (Problem /Solving), the responsible actors
should be aware of strengths that might get lost and
risks caused by organizational changes.
Critical Events. The observation of critical events
is a second input for the identification of problems.
Trained observers watch for deviations in the regular
process flow. They capture how the employees react
on these deviations. Additionally, bottlenecks and
communication problems are documented. Thus,
observing critical events provides valuable input for
the analysis.
Business Process Optimization. Methods of
classical process optimization are applied (see Arndt
2015, pp. 35-42; Koch 2011, pp. 115-183; Wolf et al.
2013, pp. 203-221). A prerequisite for this step is that
the processes have been modelled in a process
modelling notation. It is analysed whether activities
can be parallelized or omitted. Also bottlenecks and
redundant activities can be identified. These problems
of classical process optimization are not further
considered here because the focus is on knowledge
management solutions. However, in a real world
environment re-organization projects should be
initiated if the potential benefit of process
optimization is high enough.
Figure 2: Quality of a knowledge transfer.
3.4 Problem
In order to derive a concrete action plan from the
analysis results, these have to be assessed.
Weaknesses and risks are rated regarding the need for
action and the effort for solving them. This includes a
comparison of the as-is-model with best practises in
knowledge management (see section 2), including
organisational structure and culture. Also
interdependencies between problems are taken into
account. The following questions are in focus:
What is the problem?
Is it a current problem or has it been solved?
How often does the problem occur?
Is the problem found to be threatening business?
Are there workarounds?
What consequences does the problem have?
Are there dependencies with other problems?
After categorization of the identified problems, an
ordered list of problems that actually need action is
KMIS 2016 - 8th International Conference on Knowledge Management and Information Sharing
3.5 Solving
In the Solving Phase, concrete measures to address
found problems regarding knowledge management
are selected. This starts from problems that can be
matched to the questions defined in section 2.1. If
there is a match, knowledge management solutions
that are assigned as best practises to the respective
questions are appropriate solution candidates.
Furthermore, problems that arise from deviations
between actual process execution and the reference
processes found in external domain analysis can be
solved by reorganisation. Deviations from best
practises (see section 2.2) regarding organizational
culture and structure will need further investigation.
There is no off-the-shelf solution. However, a list of
problems and solution candidates is created in the
solving phase. Before a decision is made about
actions to solve the found problems, the effort of each
of the solution candidates needs to be estimated and
possible side effects have to be collected. In the last
step the representatives of the organization decide
about the action plan based on the prioritized
problems together with the respective solution
candidates. Due to the involvement of organizational
representatives, a better commitment to the
implementation of planned actions is expected.
The STAPS method has been applied in a small
company (24 employees) that provides software
maintenance services. The Scope-Phase has been
used to assess all IT-systems that provide knowledge
management related functionality and to identify
processes that were subject to the STAPS-based
analysis. Using the questionnaire in accordance to
Remus (2002), the following knowledge intensive
processes have been identified and selected: (1)
Change Request (2) Bug-fixing (3) Setup project
organization (4) Integration of new team members.
The domain analysis that has been performed as
part of the Tailoring-Phase identified ITIL as source
for reference processes in the external analysis. For
the internal domain, the organizational structure and
general aspects of organizational culture and
management regarding knowledge management have
been assessed (see best practises in section 2.2). The
following shortcomings have been found already in
this phase: (a) Knowledge management is supported
but not used at higher level management (b) Access
to knowledge management systems is complex (c)
knowledge management activities are additional
effort to customer projects which is not billed (d)
Knowledge management activities are not integrated
into the business processes.
Based on the results of the Tailoring-Phase, the
process oriented questionnaires for the Analysis-
Phase have been created. Taking the process (3)
Setup project organization as an example, the
following knowledge sources/carriers have been
assessed: (1) Employee data base (2) HelpDesk (3)
Higher management (4) Customer (5) File Server (6)
Software Maintenance Guidebook. It revealed, that
information in the employee database was outdated in
some cases and this database was seldom used.
Furthermore, feedback and improvements regarding
the helpdesk and the software maintenance
guidebook were only provided by half of the staff.
Table 2 shows the problems regarding knowledge
management and their ratings as a result of the
Table 2: Problems identified based on STAPS.
No single point of entry for knowledge
management systems
Different usage level of knowledge
management tools
Documentation is not persistent
Inconsistent terminology
Problems in workshop/meeting
High number of contacts on customer side
Management is overstrained
Additionally, management problems (see section 2.2)
and structural problems have been identified and
Based on the lists of problems an action plan has
been developed in the Solving-phase. It includes for
example new rules for workshop/meeting
organization, a standard terminology for project
documentation and the introduction of a mentoring-
program for new team members.
Overall, the case study showed the applicability
of STAPS. The company’s representatives
considered the outcome of the STAPS implemen-
tation as useful.
STAPS shows the following characteristics by
Flexible tailoring even to small knowledge
management projects
The STAPS Method - Process-taylored Introduction of Knowledge Management Solutions
Inclusion of process context
Inclusion of existing knowledge management
Assessment of knowledge sources/carriers
Best practise solutions
Involvement of stakeholders
Stakeholder specific adaptation of method
Inclusion of classical process improvement
The performed case study showed that these
characteristics also hold for an application of STAPS
in practise. More cases should be collected in order to
improve the method and its components. A major
issue is the question of scalability. Some of the
suggested method components may not be applicable
at large scale. For example, the observation of critical
events is time consuming and will increase effort
highly in large settings.
An aspect for further improvement of the method
is tool support. Text analysis techniques and mobile
data collection solutions may reduce effort and allow
automated identification of problems.
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