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Evaluating Adaptability in Frameworks that Support Morphing Collaboration Patterns. Vijayanand Bharadwaj, Y.V. Ramana Reddy, Srinivas Kankanahalli, Sumitra Reddy, Sentil Selliah, Jin Qiao SIPLab,Concurrent Engineering Research Center Lane Dept. Of Computer Science & Electrical Engineering

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Evaluating adaptability in frameworks that support morphing collaboration patterns
Evaluating Adaptability in Frameworks thatSupport Morphing Collaboration Patterns

Vijayanand Bharadwaj, Y.V. Ramana Reddy, Srinivas Kankanahalli, Sumitra Reddy, Sentil Selliah, Jin Qiao

SIPLab,Concurrent Engineering Research Center

Lane Dept. Of Computer Science & Electrical Engineering

West Virginia University

Morgantown WV, U.S.A, 26506


  • Woke up this morning felt strange….

    • Unfamiliar surroundings – Hotel room, décor, wall paper

    • Uncomfortable ---awoke early ( Italy – US time difference !)

    • Prefer the tea I drink to the the coffee one gets at hotel rooms and so on….

  • Humans …….. “Creatures of Habit “

    • Favor familiar environment, security, comfort

    • Also as a result more productive… !

  • Also prefer to respond the same way each time.

  • Form Habits…..Form Patterns of Behavior !


Patterns – Individual & Social

  • Apart from individual patterns we also form work patterns with others, when we collaborate.

  • Patterns of Collaborative Behavior !

  • Patterns of behavior change

    • voluntarily and at other times forced upon us.

  • Change is not always welcome


Patterns & Collaborative Information Systems

  • When information systems are involved, they must be flexible enough to accommodate change.

  • Otherwise disruptions and impediments to effective collaboration

  • Systems are not easily adaptable.

    • Why is this so?

    • How to design better systems?

    • How to evaluate if one system is more suitable than another to change.

  • We aim to shed some light on these issues, which form the theme of of this presentation……


Evaluating Adaptability in Frameworks that Support Morphing Collaboration Patterns

Overview –

The rest of this presentation is as follows:

  • Notion of “morphing collaboration patterns”

  • Factors that change patterns

  • Challenges on collaborative information systems

  • Dealing with these challenges through our approach “Enable and not Impose”

  • Need for “Adaptability” as a new metric

  • Adaptability Evaluation

Collaboration patterns
Collaboration Patterns

  • Repeated steps in a collaborative effort can lead to forming “patterns”

  • Patterns are adopted for various reasons

    • Convenience

    • Resources constraint

    • Efficient

    • Speedy

    • Others ….. .

  • However Patterns Morph… !

Collaboration patterns1
Collaboration Patterns


  • Patterns morph over the life cycle of a project.

  • Useful to study which are productive compared to others since seemingly convenient patterns in the short-run may be counter-productive in the long run.

  • Just as “Design Patterns for Software” one could think of “Collaboration Patterns”

  • An example follows…..

Collaboration patterns2

“Representative” Pattern

“Brainstorming” Pattern

“Delegation” Pattern

“Document-Centric” Pattern

Team Leader



Bug list

Bug list

Software Engineers

Developer Debugs

Tester Tests



Collaboration Patterns

Software Product Development Life-cycle

Morphing Collaboration patterns

Requirements Analysis



Testing & Debugging

Local informal meetings

Peer-to-peer interaction, brainstorming discussions, oppurtunistic collaboration

Shorter synchronization & Longer individual parallel execution

Formal Scheduled Meetings

Only Documents are exchanged.

Factors Influencing Collaboration Patterns

  • Various factors influence patterns of collaborative behavior.

    • When these factors change, existing patterns change.

  • On the other hand

    • these factors can also prevent voluntary change

Factors Influencing Collaboration Patterns

  • 1. Goals of a Project

    • Based on the project’s needs members may adopt suitable patterns - collaborative design is different from the implementation phase.

  • 2. Participant’s Background

    • New members need orientation so one-on-one mentoring

    • Interdisciplinary projects require that everyone get on the “Same Page” !

  • 3. Participant’s Expertise

    • Initial leadership assigned . As project progresses someone plays a significant role due to his or her expertise and shapes the course the group takes. There is an implicit shift in the leadership !!

Factors Influencing Collaboration Patterns

  • 4. Organizational Structure

    • Hierarchical structure may adopt a centralized form of control, coordination and delegation of tasks.

    • Peer to Peer organization is more informal.

    • Patterns form based on the organization’s structure !

  • 5. Location of Participants

    • Participants distributed geographically – collaborate less often, need to have scheduled meetings.

    • Participants in the same location, interact frequently.

  • 6. Capability of Resources

    • Capability of information systems and resources imposes certain patterns of collaboration.

    • Lack of adaptability makes configuring a system to suit new patterns difficult.

Factors Influencing Collaboration Patterns

  • 7. Availability of Resources

    • Non-availability of required technical infrastructure restricts the manner in which people collaborate.

  • 8. Number of Participants

    • Participants join and leave, information has to be made available to new members.

    • Disseminating information to large group.

    • Access control issues

      -- all the above and more mean that change is difficult !

Factors Influencing Collaboration Patterns

  • 9. Other Factors

    • Participants’ communication skills

    • Prior experience working in a group

    • Personality traits

    • Social background

    • Organizational constraints such as

      • Political pressures

      • Bureaucratic demands

Challenges for Information Systems

  • Change is inevitable and natural.

  • However why are we unable to adopt new patterns smoothly?

  • Two kinds of challenges that creators of collaborative information systems face:

    • Challenges in Understanding Collaboration Pattern Change

    • Technical Challenges


Understanding Collaboration

  • Knowledge of how a collaboration pattern will morph is not known

  • Thus seemingly suitable pattern for the short-run is not helpful in the long-run

  • A Solution:

    • Just as Software Design Patterns capture typical cases and propose a suitable design, Collaboration Patterns can aid in eliminating inefficiencies and delays by suggesting best practices.

    • Also help in designing adaptable systems which can be configured easily to accommodate these patterns.

  • But one cannot anticipate all scenarios.


Technical Difficulties

  • Problem of Lack of Interoperability.

  • Tools do not work with each other, platforms, connectivity, versions etc etc etc…..

  • Thus often, patterns of behavior are based on the tools that are available, when it should be the other way, the tool should be adaptable to the pattern.

    • i.e user-centric as opposed to tool-centric !

Dealing with challenges
Dealing with Challenges

  • Our approach in dealing with the above challenges is part of a project:

    EkSarva: A Context-Aware Workflow-Centric Collaboration Framework


Three Pillars of EkSarva

  • PPP/SST model for Collaborative Enterprises

    • The aim is to demonstrate that a collaborative enterprise can be modeled by means of the entities Project (P), Person(P), Place(P), Situation (S), Signal (S) and Transcript (T).

    • This model aids in specifying the collaborative enterprise and all its activities.

    • Helps understand Collaborative Applications better !

  • IC3 model for Adaptable Collaboration Frameworks

    • The theme of this paper.

  • Workflow-Centric Context Awareness !

    • To deal with the complexity of collaborative applications.


Essential Elements for Collaboration

  • To facilitate Morphing collaboration patterns, the collaborative system must

    • “Enable and not Impose” i.e.The system must facilitate change however not constrain the user.

  • Approach is

    • Identify the fundamental elements of any collaborative effort

    • Provide those elements during all phases of a project so that users can collaborate using these basic “building blocks” in a any manner or pattern


Essential Elements for Collaboration

  • The essential elements are

    • Information

    • Communication

    • Coordination

    • Computation


Essential Elements for Collaboration

  • Information

    • Information about the collaborative effort ( goals, tasks, timeline etc) as well as artifacts created as a result of collaboration

  • Communication

    • Synchronous and Asynchronous

  • Coordination

    • The actions taken to ensure that the tasks are performed at the right time, by the appropriate people, taking into account all the constraints such as dependencies, resource restrictions etc.

  • Computation

    • All the necessary computational processes required to accomplish the tasks



  • Create a Framework of:

    • Information Objects

      • Project Meta information and

      • Artifacts

    • Communicator Objects

      • Use to communicate with others

      • Synchronous and Asynchronous

    • Coordination

      • Performed by the users.

    • Computation

      • Provide interfaces to computational tool required for the tasks

      • Plug and play the tools into the framework



Access (View)






Assign tasks to people

Resolve temporal and resource dependencies

Scheduling tasks

Control Information access

Monitoring and accountability






Send Messages & Information Objects

Receive Messages & Information Objects

(Synchronous & Asynchronous modes)

Perform any computational processes required to complete tasks






Supported by






Modeled by




Essential Elements

Realized by






Workflow- Centricity & Context-Awareness


Conceptual View



Collaborative Enterprise



  • A Metaphor-Neutral Framework.

    • Does not impose a paradigm on the users, essential for change!

  • A set of basic building blocks

    • Easy to use , intuitive

    • Similar to LEGO blocks where one can create complex structures using a small simple set of pieces.

    • Create complex collaborative applications

  • Easily Adaptable !!!

    • Simple set can be easily re-arranged, configured and adapted to changing patterns.



  • Many details of the IC3 model such as

    • User communication model

    • Maintenance of project state information

    • Synchronizations of such information

    • Non-functional requirements ( security, fault-tolerance etc)

    • among others are to be fully specified and work in progress…..

Adaptability as a new metric
Adaptability as a new metric.

  • Importance of Adaptability as a requirement.

  • We propose a simple method to evaluate adaptability

  • Based on the notion that if a system provides access to the fundamental IC3 elements even when any of the factors ( influence patterns) change, it is adaptable !


  • Recognize the notion of Collaboration Patterns and that they morph

  • Identified key factors which influence pattern morphing

  • Impact on Design of Collaborative Information Systems

    • Challenges

  • Solution – EkSarva and IC3 Adaptable Framework

  • Adaptability and its Evaluation

Future directions
Future Directions

  • Specify the IC3 concepts completely.

  • Implement the IC3 framework and demonstrate its adaptability to varying conditions in collaborative behavior through real-life scenarios.

  • Develop the metric, so far qualitative and rudimentary explore how to quantify it and techniques to collect data to assess adaptability

  • “Intelligent adaptability management” i.e a system which recognizes that changes in behavior pattern and configures itself !

Thank You !

{vijay.bharadwaj,ramana.reddy}@ mail.wvu.edu


{selliah,[email protected]}