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Knowledge Work Process: Software Developer’s in Small Medium Enterprise

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Managing knowledge work in the workplace is inherently important and accessible to the organizations for the long terms growth and performance. Software developer is a key successor for the organization success and knowledge work is viewed as the highest complexity of work characteristics. The intentions of software developers to improve the knowledge work process are remain unconsciousness. This paper will address the issue of knowledge work process and try to propose a method how to improve knowledge work process based on distinct methods and approaches. A literature review was used in order to distinguish the methods and will use data collected 300 respondents from Small Medium Enterprise (SMEs) in Malaysia and validate the methods by using structural equation modelling. Our results provide evidence on the importance of certain method to improve knowledge work on the software developers and business success, and have implications for both research and practice in the field of SMEs.
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TELKOMNIKA Indonesian Journal of Electrical Engineering
Vol. 13, No. 3, March 2015, pp. 555 ~ 560
DOI: 10.11591/telkomnika.v13i3.7134 555
Received December 3, 2014; Revised January 27, 2015; Accepted February 12, 2015
Knowledge Work Process: Software Developer’s in
Small Medium Enterprise
Mohd Zairol Yusoff*1, Massudi Mahmuddin2, Mazida Ahmad3
School of Computing, Universiti Utara Malaysia
*Corresponding author, e-mail: zarul1x@gmail.com1, ady@uum.edu.my2, mazida@uum.edu.my3
Abstract
Managing knowledge work in the workplace is inherently important and accessible to the
organizations for the long terms growth and performance. Software developer is a key successor for the
organization success and knowledge work is viewed as the highest complexity of work characteristics. The
intentions of software developers to improve the knowledge work process are remain unconsciousness.
This paper will address the issue of knowledge work process and try to propose a method how to improve
knowledge work process based on distinct methods and approaches. A literature review was used in order
to distinguish the methods and will use data collected 300 respondents from Small Medium Enterprise
(SMEs) in Malaysia and validate the methods by using structural equation modelling. Our results provide
evidence on the importance of certain method to improve knowledge work on the software developers and
business success, and have implications for both research and practice in the field of SMEs.
Keywords: knowledge work, Knowledge work process, knowledge worker, software developer’s and small
medium enterprise (SMEs)
Copyright © 2015 Institute of Advanced Engineering and Science. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Managing knowledge in the advanced of technology has made greater sense entirely to
the process and productivity of knowledge work. According to [1] the most important contribution
management needs to make in the 21st century is similarly to increase the productivity of
knowledge work and the knowledge worker and the most valuable assets of a 21st century
whether business or non-business, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity.
The term knowledge work deal with the people who used formal knowledge as a major
part of their job. By definition knowledge works is related to the any activities that require special
knowledge or skill or creates new knowledge [2]. It involved a creative work solving unstructured
problems that require exploration and creation of knowledge [3]. Reference [2] define it as “a set
of activities using individual and external knowledge to produce outputs characterized by
information content.” Knowledge work precise more on the stronger communication needs,
assign multiple role to the person rather than with the single job position and increase the
importance of team work. It also comprises transactions, interactions and decision making that
require the continuous revising and improving of the resource knowledge. It means all the
activities related to the knowledge work stress the changes in the process and practice compare
to traditional works [4].
It’s never doubt that software developer as a knowledge worker will bring a fundamental
change in the structure and process of knowledge work in the ICT infrastructure [3]. The
structure and process of knowledge work adversely contrast to physical work which emphasize
on the applying existing knowledge or create new knowledge of software developer’s base on
the work environment. It means the software developer who expertise in the particular area
need to use their cognitive skill with engaging in the complexity of processes in the software
development [2].
The process approach allows an end-to-end view of how best to structure, sequence,
and measure work activities to reach targeted outcomes. However the nature of the process of
knowledge work is difficult to describe [5]. The inputs and outputs of knowledge work ideas,
interruptions, inspirations, and so on are often less tangible and discrete. There are no
predetermined task sequences that, if executed, guarantee the desired outcome. Knowledge
workers may operate by an intuitive feel for how to accomplish their work or through
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accumulated experience. Although many of the researchers give more attention towards of the
process in the knowledge work such [5] explain the reengineering and laissez faire methods
emphasize the improvement of the process of knowledge work, [4] state the potential analysis of
knowledge work aim to enhance the ability of handling knowledge and [3] state the process in
the modeling of knowledge work infrastructure but lack of detail analysis related to the software
developers. The classical model tries to adopt the input and output system for the creation of
the intellectual assets, but still not configure with the structure and process analysis of
knowledge work.
In the case of software developer, there is a widely used approach to measure
knowledge work process orientation. Software Engineering Institute Capability Maturity Model
(CMM), has introduced a method that allows the analysis of the different levels of process
maturity has seen the two groups in a company that is in CMM Level 5, the highest level of
process maturity, and the other two groups in the same company in Level 3. They found that, for
the most part, mature processes experienced by many developers that enable and empower
rather than coercion and isolation[6].It means software developers experienced the increased
processing orientation as positive [7].
Definition of SMEs has also changed. North American Industry Classification System
uses measures such as: the number of employees and total revenue, depending on the
industry. The European Union (EU) has created a uniform definition: independent companies
with less than 250 employees and have either a turnover of less than 40 million euros or total
assets of less than 27 million euro [8]. Most of the software developers work at the SMEs
company [8]. But lack of the require knowledge and skill caused by less of financial or access
to funding and working capital to create greater risk in SMEs [9]. Their lack of awareness of the
importance of adopting best business practices and quality management systems, such as
financial management and customer focused activities, in order to improve a company's
productivity and profitability. Furthermore most of the projects were related to the failure of
SMEs Company’s associated with incorrect specification of requirements [10]. In the meantime
the software organizations cannot properly manage their software process and the same
mistake repeated after decade [10]. They lack awareness of the importance of adopting
business best practices and quality management systems, such as financial management and
customer focused activities, in order to enhance the firms’ productivity and profitability [11].
1.1. The Proposed Method and Approach
In this part of research, we have identified and make a comparison based on method or
approach to improve the knowledge work process. This method is adapted from knowledge
intensity model [4] and work segments [7] which assess the relevance of knowledge work in a
major work process and product or services. The higher of knowledge intensity, meaning the
higher of the effectiveness of handling the knowledge and becomes an important factor of the
knowledge work process.
According to this method the level of knowledge intensity determines the route to the
knowledge work process. In cases of low knowledge intensity is related to the work efficiency
and focus directly how to use resources efficiently (e.g. Shop floor production of bolts). But
relatively the higher level of knowledge intensity means the process of knowledge work is
complicated and use full of knowledge as central resources and will determine the level of
standard handling the information, communication and decision making (e.g. an investment
bank, school, research lab and software developers).
The second method is trying to impose, precisely in the process and knowledge activity.
There are some key differences in process orientations among different types of knowledge
work and workers. Based on the matrix shown in figure 2 there are four key types of knowledge
work based on the degree of expertise and the level of coordination in the work [7]. The first
approach focuses on the work of the transaction, which is usually more malleable in terms of
process than others, because the work that is usually recurrent and knowledge-based workers
formalities and procedures process. This means less knowledge of the activities undertaken and
process flows into some form of computer-based applications. The systems measure the
process and usually brings the work and all information and knowledge required to perform it to
the worker.
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Figure 1. Potential Analysis for Knowledge work Process
Integration work is often quite structured, even higher levels of cooperation often lead to
a more complex process. Employee-oriented integrated quite possible to adopt the intervention
process. It is possible to articulate the process to be followed in the document, and employees
usually have enough time and discretion to negotiate with the document. An important part of
the process, but does not describe the practice, but must follow standard operating procedures
within the organization.
Expert work can be made more process oriented, but they’re experts often hold the
process imposed. Usually, someone should give them the ability to overcome or step out of the
process. These workers have a high degree of autonomy and discretion in their work, but most
of the work applied technology to key aspects of the process. Most knowledge workers involved
in the intervention process of knowledge creation in the intervention process. The last of the
approach is collaborative work. It presents a challenge for process oriented managers and
these workers typically have a more iterative, collaborative approach to work for which patterns
are more difficult to discern. In this approach work structure can be denied and likely they
always provide an intervention approaches to meet their task. Knowledge distribution and
application is prominently work is this approach.
Figure 2. Approach to Knowledge work process
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The most important for the software developer such as programmer is to think the
process in terms of knowledge activities involved. It means the process can be deferred by
whether the software developers can create knowledge, distribute or apply it. The process of
knowledge creation is embedded in every single step of process in software development. The
evaluation is needed to view a knowledge creation in the each stage of processes. But in the
software development software developers sometimes need to apply the knowledge more than
created it. It's very important for programmer to apply the existing knowledge to the program
application which certainly exist. It seems like software developers become as integral which
adopted process intervention, but highly structured work. But in another situation they need to
collaborate with their peers across multiple function to complete the task.
3. Process Improvement Method for Knowledge Work in SMEs
Software developers have been described as highly skilled and creative employees [12]
A knowledge work process much concentrate on thinking activities, collaborative and interactive
which makes it difficult to structure. Even though the process is complicated, but in certain
circumstances we can still view a knowledge work process based on the approach and method
given above. In this part we try to make an overview and suggestion how to improve knowledge
work process in SMEs company.
All the software developers have different skill and knowledge or knowledge work and
we have describe there are some differences in term of process orientation. Based on the
matrix showed in Figure 3 we can make a conclusion, software developers involve in the
integration an collaborative work focusing on high knowledge intensity work. It means software
developers are more on processes oriented, but still highly collaborated.
Figure 3. Combination approach of knowledge work
Software developers have to work with a participative and adopt any process changes if
also have been party to design the system [7]. In a particular view participative change also
typically yields more incremental change results and continuous in order to make improvements
over time. An example of this type method would be agile development models which adopt and
adapted for the development process of small companies. It’s less focused on the specific steps
to be followed in a process, but more oriented to composition of team work and highly iterative
workflow [13]. Pair programming is such a practice that holds promise for overcoming some of
the challenges. In pair programming two software developers such programmers working side-
by-side on one computer collaborating on the same design, algorithm, coding or testing. This
will create a new environment with the need to promote knowledge sharing and collaborative
knowledge discovery across multiple function.
3. Research Method
The intention of identifying of knowledge works is to build a method for describing ways
to evolving process steps of a knowledge work process so that managers or knowledge workers
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can be dynamically organized and coordinate this method to support various process activities
and guide to the process, in an individual basis, to advance process steps towards process
completion with higher efficiency and quality. Hence, it must provide ways to describe various
process activities. The methodology involves four phases’ namely theoretical studies, empirical
study, framework evaluation and validation and a comparative study. In theoretical study, a
literature review is conducted to understand the knowledge work process model proposed by [4]
and [7]. Based on this review the factors in knowledge work process are identified. In this
research, we are focusing on the effectiveness and efficiency of the method. The second phase
is an empirical study that focuses on collecting data from software developers in SME by
distributing a set of questionnaires. The sample of this study is 300 as register in SME Company
(SEM). The data will be analyzed using Structural Equation Modeling by using Partial Least
Square Technique (PLS).
The third phase is modeled evaluation and validation. In this phase, the model will be
evaluated and validated using a case study and expert review. The fourth phase is a
comparative study with other works or methods to evaluate the knowledge work productivity.
The study took place over a period of four months and fourteen semi-structured
interviews, participation in five meetings, and several direct observations were carried out. In
order to clarify themes and conceptions the material has been discussed with the knowledge
workers in several informal meetings and thus ascertains reliability.
3.1. Data Collection
We conducted a cross-sectional study of SMEs in the software area in Peninsular
Malaysia. Since our research gives more attention to the software developers under SMEs, a
good practical reason in the choice of the Software Company, the researcher followed the EU
definition of SMEs, excluding companies with less than four employees. A random sample of
the SMEs, the software developer was created from company databases in Malaysia. These will
phone and asked if they would confirm that their company used web pages, e-mail, or online
systems for research purpose; if so, they were then invited to take part in the survey. In each
SMEs company, the developers will survey by using an online survey by using questionnaires.
All respondents hopefully will give contribution to this research. Each company had at least a
web presence where individual customers or companies could find information about products
and services.
3.2. Data Analysis
SEM is chosen as statistical technique because it allows the analysis of all the factors
simultaneously. The outcome is significant direct effects of quality factors towards knowledge
work productivity. Partial least squares analysis (PLS) was chosen as the most appropriate tools
in SEM to analyze our model. PLS is a confirmatory, second-generation multivariate analysis
technique that is well suited for complex predictive models.
PLS has several advantages that make it well suited for our research the ability to
handle reflective and formative indicators and robustness with respect to departure from
multivariate normality as well as the ability to handle the multicollinearity found in some
competency variables of our model. Furthermore, as with multiple regressions, PLS focuses on
the model’s ability to predict rather than just explaining the variability of the dependent variable,
making it most useful in situations where the theory is still being developed [6]. In PLS the
predictive ability of constructs is optimized and the performance of the individual scale items is
reported. In reporting the results of these analyses, we start with the measurement models.
Formative items represent measures that affect the construct under study. Changes in
the construct are therefore not expected to cause any changes in the indicators. As a result,
items within a formative scale are not expected to correlate. Tests of convergent and
discriminant validity based on the inter correlations between items are therefore not relevant for
evaluating the psychometric properties of formative items. Instead, item weights are used to
indicate how relevant each item is in measuring its latent construct.
The reflective items are believed to be caused by the latent constructs they are
intended to measure. The Intercorrelations between the items are therefore expected. The
psychometric properties of the reflective items were examined by analyzing their internal
consistency in terms of their convergent and discriminant validity. Convergent validity was
estimated based on the item loadings, and a loading of above 0.70 is recommended as this
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indicated that at least half of the variance in each item could be accounted for by the latent
construct.
4. Conclusion
Firms must better manage two of their most precious asset knowledge and the people
who create and possess it. Firms attempting to make their knowledge work processes more
efficient and effective face a choice. They can adopt transaction approaches for knowledge
work improvement that have been employed for the administrative and operational work. Or
they can employ more collaborative approaches that rely on pair programming to design and
evaluate their own activities. In most cases, however, we believe that organizations will benefit
by choosing an intermediate participative course between the two extremes. Using the
strategies we have discussed, companies can select methods and tactics that reflect the type of
knowledge work, they are addressing, their organizational culture, and the business
requirements for the change project. Of course, improvements to knowledge work are only one
effort in a broad portfolio of improvement and change initiatives that managers must integrate.
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Knowledge Work and Knowledge Workers
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  • Grantham
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Enabling process discipline: lessons from Computer Sciences Corporation on Capability Maturity Model Level 5
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  • F E Mcgarry
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BD Adler PS, McGarry FE, Talbot WB. Enabling process discipline: lessons from Computer Sciences Corporation on Capability Maturity Model Level 5. 2003; 26.