In a simplified perspective, the virtual organization (VO) creation process can be considered structured into three main phases (L. M. Camarinha-Matos et al., 2005): Preparatory Planning: Process of identification and characterization of the Collaboration Opportunity (CO) and draft planning of the VO to fulfill the CO needs; Consortia Formation: In order to get the proper set of partners (competences /capacities /services) for the new VO, a process of partners' search and selection and its corresponding negotiation is then needed; VO Launching: To finalize the VO creation, it is necessary to refine the VO plan and its governance principles, to formulate and model contracts and agreements and to put the VO into operation. For these three phases, four tools were developed in the ECOLEAD project in order to perform: CO identification (coFinder); CO characterization and rough planning (COC-Plan); partners' search and suggestion (PSS), and negotiation wizard (WizAN). More information on these tools can be found in the previous chapter (2.5-"VO Creation Assistance Services") and also in (L. M. Camarinha-Matos et al., 2007). Figure 1 illustrates the main steps of the simplified VO creation process and the tools that cover some of them. (Figure presented) The main actors involved in this process are the Opportunity Broker and the VO Planner in the initial phases. Potential partners participate in the last phase of the process. The Opportunity Broker is the one that is responsible for finding the collaboration opportunity whereas the VO Planner is the one responsible for setting up the VO, i.e. responsible for the characterization and planning of the CO, finding the suitable partners, and coordinating the process of reaching the final agreements between all parties involved. Creating a new VO is not only a matter of planning and selecting partners. In fact, the final structure of the VO will depend on the agreements reached among all participants during a negotiation process. Negotiation is, therefore, an activity that encompasses all other stages of the VO creation process. A synthesis of the results of the negotiation activity is represented by an agreement among the partners that will participate in the VO. The preparation of this agreement, namely in terms of collecting the necessary information, spans along the full VO creation process. Although Figure 1 might give the impression that the VO creation is a linear /sequential process, in fact several iterations and parallel activities may take place. At every phase of the VO creation process, there is a flow of information that passes from each phase of the process; and in parallel with the entire process, the tasks of creating the internal VO agreement are spawned. As a result various iterations might be needed. The negotiation phase is an iterative process to reach agreements and align needs with offers. It is typically seen as complementary to the partners' selection process and might in fact require going back to the previous step(s) if a solution cannot be found with the current configuration of partners. Important issues to consider at the negotiation stage include: Determination of the objects of negotiation; Negotiation protocols; Decision making process and corresponding parameters; Representation of agreements; etc. business process (BP) negotiation, i.e. BP refinement and assignment to partners may also be considered at this stage. The main roles intervening in the negotiation process are the VO planner role, and the VBE member role. In this context, an Agreement Negotiation Wizard (WizAN) tool is proposed, which aims to assist the user in the possible steps that a negotiation among candidate partners for a VO might need, being the main outcome of this negotiation a contract /agreement that will govern the behavior of the various actors involved in the future VO.
|Title of host publication||Methods and Tools for Collaborative Networked Organizations|
|Editors||L. M. Camarinha-Matos, H. Afsarmanesh, M. Ollus|
|Place of Publication||Boston, MA|
|Number of pages||28|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2008|