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Norman sees effective system design in terms of the mental models of the designer and the user: "The problem is to design the system so that, first, it follows a consistent, coherent conceptualization - a design model - and, second, so that the user can develop a mental model of that system - a user model - consistent with the design model." (Norman 1986, p.46). He then illustrates this with a diagram of their interaction: small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Personnel administration is one of the components, or so-called work centers, of SAP's new Business ByDesign system, a complete Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) suite, geared towards Small and Medium Businesses (SMB). This new “All-in-One” product is offered as a hosted service, enabling customers to manage all their business processes using a web browser, without having to worry about the technical and hardware related challenges. Therefore, it should be a good solution for companies with limited in-house IT resources. ERP software in general can be pretty complex. Not only from a technological point of view, but especially from its user's point of view. In addition to a more or less clear skill set, it also requires patience and tolerance to be able to work with it. This will come as no surprise, as the processes that are dealt with simply are complex. The word task flow is often used to describe the steps a user of a system has to take to accomplish a certain task. But actually, flow (defined as the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity[1]) is one of the experiences a user will seldom – if not never – encounter. It is a challenge to overcome these limitations and design an interaction paradigm that eliminates the need to try to make things doable by training users and providing quick fixes that do not really solve the problem at its root. While this holds true for the whole suite of ERP software solutions, this thesis focuses on personnel administration as an example. It contains most of the important more or less generic task elements that can be found in ERP software. Business ByDesign SAP's new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) suite which is designed to fulfill the needs of small and medium sized companies. This web based ERP system provide solutions for many kinds of companies. It consists of work centers which are designed for a specific task of the company. People differ greatly in the way they conceptualize (and thus understand) an information space and it is impossible to create the model that resembles the mental model users maintain, simply because we do not know what it looks like. Results from [20] indicate that information spaces are conceptualized differently by different users. This suggests that the users' mental models also differ greatly. Hacker's Action Theory tries to explain human activity in the context of goal directed behavior. Every action is a consious, goal-directed behaviour to achieve concrete goals. User's goal is divided into subgoals and operations that are conducted in order to achieve the starting motive. The main aim of this theory is to explain how a person


completes a task. Rasmussen’s model of cognitive regulation (Rasmussen, 1982,1983, 1986) states that there are 3 levels of action: skill-based, rule-based and knowledge-based. 1. Skill Based: highly integrated actions which are done unconsciously without any serous mental work. 2. Rule Based: users actions are applied according to predefined procedures. These procedures can be shown to the users or users learn them by previous experiences. 3. Knowledge Based: This level of action requires mental work. Users need to define their goals, and then act in a certain way to reach these goals. The Adaptive Character of Thought – Rational (ACT-R) theory describes a cognitive architecture, based on how cognitive skills are realized by “production rules”. It is about how humans/users acquire skills through the gradual acquisition and integration of production rules, which are if-then pairs. The combination of multiple production rules can be applied to wide variety of complex problems. The theory describes how knowledge from production rules begins as more skill-based, declarative knowledge and transforms into more problem-solving, conceptual, procedural knowledge.

The Adaptive Character of Thought – Rational (ACT-R) theory describes a cognitive architecture, based on how cognitive skills are realized by “production rules”. It is about how humans/users acquire skills through the gradual acquisition and integration of production rules, which are if-then pairs. The combination of multiple production rules can be applied to wide variety of complex problems. The theory describes how knowledge from production rules begins as more skill-based, declarative knowledge and transforms into more problem-solving, conceptual, procedural knowledge.

The ACT-R provides HCI researchers with an understanding of how knowledge is built, and how it transforms. Application of ACT-R in designing systems and interfaces that properly match and enhance the user’s acquisition of knowledge and development of skills can provide very powerful products. Similar to the ACT-R is Norman’s Stages of Action Model (1988), which provides a list of the stages that users go through in trying to use a system: • • • • • • •

Forming the goal Forming the intention Specifying the action Executing the action Perceiving the system state Interpreting the system state Evaluating the outcome

Research into how humans construct information into knowledge also has major contributions to HCI. Understanding how knowledge is represented and organized is critical in the design and development of


technology and tools. The applications of research findings intend to maximize the amount of knowledge and utility gained from interfaces.

Much research in knowledge representation, with relation to HCI, has focused on mental models. Mental models are dynamic constructions of knowledge that guide us (and sometimes misguide us!) in understanding and acting within our own worlds. Donald Norman (1998) provides a good definition of mental models: “the model people have of themselves, others, the environment, and the thing with which they interact. People form mental models through experience, training, and instruction�

We are basing our research topic to Action theory. A user who started to work in one of the workcenters of Businesses ByD system has a certain goal: providing a purchase request, sales order, or getting customer information, etc. In order to achieve this goal system asks users to follow some predefined steps. For example in order to--- Ă–RNEK BUL There are different ways to conduct business processes. Before starting to a process user may have a mental model that describes how to complete the task. This process can roughly be drawn in a Gannt chart as seen in the figure.

However this Gannt chart may not be enough to cover real world scenarios because of its declarative nature. In real life situations there is no one predefined way of task completion. Users have different ways to achieve a


certain goal depending on their previous experiences, or the system state, etc. In order to complete a business procedure user may search, selects one of the search results, take appropriate action and then reach her goal, or she can search, views the results and then achieve her task or she can just do some action and directly achieve her goal (see graph)

In the current ByD system business processes are conducted by predefined steps. Inorder to complete the task users has to act according to these system defined steps.


What we offer is similar to mashup methaphor. Mashup is a combination of different types of information medium (like text, picture, sound, etc.) in a collage style inside one application. Google maps with its integration of wikipedia pages, pictures from panoramio is a good example of this appoach. We are planning to implement a system which divides user's information space into independent sub spaces, i.e. clusters. In order to go from one cluster to another and achieve the main goal user has to complete the task of that cluster. These clusters contain also sub clusters that are independent from each other. User may choose one or another sub cluster to complete the sub task.


Hacker, W. (1973). Arbeits – und Ingenieurpsychologische Beitrage zur socialistischen Rationalisierung der Volkswirtschaft. In Hacker, W., Timpe, P., Vorwerg, M. (eds.) Arbeits-, ingenieur- und sozialpsychologische Beitrage zur sozialistischen Rationalisierung. VEB Verlag der Wissenschaften: Berlin.

Hacker, W. (1978). Allgemeine Arbeits – und Ingenieurpsychologische. Psychische Struktur und Regulation von Arbeitstatigkeiten. Bern: Huber Verlag (2nd Ed.). Hacker, W. (1985). Activity: a fruitful concept in industrial psychology. In: Frese, M., Sabini (eds.). Goal directed behavior: the concept of action psychology. Hillsdale , New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 262-283. Hacker, W. (1986), Arbeitpsychologie. Psychische Regulation von Arbeitstatigkeiten. Bern: Huber Verlag (2nd Ed.). Norman, D.A., The Psychology of Everyday Things, Basic Books, New York, NY, 1988. Shneiderman, B. (1998). Designing the User Interface. Addison-Wesley (3rd Ed.).

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