Organizations define processes and implement enterprise systems to support their employees in executing the processes and increasing their performance. Facilitating an effective use of enterprise systems and an execution of the implemented processes in accordance with their specifications, employees need to be equipped with the necessary process knowledge. In particular, novice users require support, as they typically have only limited knowledge about the various processes of an organization. Expert users may also require support in handling exceptional situations in their process execution. Addressing the potential knowledge gap of novices and experts, organizations offer traditional support structures, such as trainings, helpdesks, or handbooks, to provide knowledge on how to execute processes and use the corresponding enterprise systems. However, there isstrong empirical evidence that traditional support structures are not as effective as indented. One reason for the limited effectiveness is that traditional support structures often do not provide the necessary knowledge during the actual process execution. Thus, users often stru ... mehrggle in handling the processes, since they do not remember all necessary process steps due to a lack of process knowledge. As a consequence, users do not follow the organizational defined processes, create workaround solutions, or do not exploit the full potential of enterprise systems, which can result in a low process execution performance.
A promising solution to the outlined situation is the concept of process guidance, which aims to provide contextualized information about a process supporting the users during its actual execution. The more general concept of guidance is well known in information systems research and conceptualized as well as evaluated in various application contexts. In contrast to this, existing research on process guidance focuses primarily on the implementation of process guidance systems and on the evaluation of their usefulness for a certain, and often very specific application context. What is missing in the current body of research is a systematic conceptualization of process guidance and the derivation of a theory-grounded design for the entire class of process guidance systems. Moreover, there is more empirical research on the impact of process guidance on users’ process knowledge, process execution performance and the process compliance required.
This doctoral thesis addresses the concept of process guidance by conducting a design science research project executed in a close cooperation with a case company. Within three consecutive design cycles, process guidance is conceptualized and the design for process guidance systems is examined. Building on research addressing the guidance concept in information systems research, three theory-grounded design principles are derived. The design principles are instantiated and evaluated in different evaluation settings. In the first design cycle, the instantiated prototype is evaluated qualitatively with employees of the case company. Reasonableness and usefulness of the proposed design as well as the potential positive impacts of process guidance are acknowledged. The second design cycle targets at the dedicated evaluation of the design principles’ validity and the effects of process guidance on process knowledge and process execution performance. The experiment’s data support the validity of the design principles and reveal a significant positive effect of process guidance on users’ process knowledge and process execution effectiveness. The third design cycle targets at the confirmation of the experiment’s findings in a field study. Together with the IT governance team of the case company, a fully functional process guidance system for ticketing processes is implemented. The research model from the second design cycle is adapted and extended by the users’ perceived process compliance. At two points of time, the employees of the IT department were asked to complete an online-survey. Analyzing both data sets, the significant and positive effects of process guidance on users’ process knowledge, process execution performance, and process compliance are shown. In addition, a series of workshops with employees of the case company provide rich insights into their experience with the process guidance system and proposed several opportunities for future research.
This doctoral research contributes to theory and practice. First, the proposed nascent design theory, summarizing all findings on the design and effects of process guidance systems, addresses the gap for more research on the design of process guidance systems. In particular, the proposal of the three theory-grounded design principles and their evaluation within multiple qualitative and quantitative evaluations contribute to the knowledge base. Researchers and practitioners can utilize the design theory and the design knowledge reported in this doctoral thesis to instantiated their own process guidance systems for their contexts. Second, the conceptualization of the guidance concept and the derivation of the integrated taxonomy of guidance in information systems research extends the body of guidance research. The taxonomy can be utilized by researchers to classify, describe, and compare guidance research. In combination with the comprehensive list of effects and outcomes, the integrated taxonomy serves as a baseline for future guidance research.