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© Han van Loon 1996-2006

Operational Concept

The following is taken from the STARS Operational Concept Specification.

Operational Concept Overview

The STARS Webworx system will provide individuals, teams and organizations with the means to generate, explore, analyze, record ideas, concepts, products and activities, and retrieve knowledge in the context where the knowledge can be applied.

The STARS Webworx system will provide virtual organizations with the means to set up their environment for defining common goals and collaboration to create effective desired outcomes.

For each instance of use of the system (whether an individual use, team use, project use, department use, or organization wide use), the tool can be used to set specific goals, and tailor products and activities to realize specific outcomes.

The STARS Webworx system is a web based application. It will:

Supplement paper based methods of using the STARS Concept.

Provide a web server based database allowing systematic data capture and retrieval (the STARS Data System)
Provide simple administration of the database and associated forms, queries and reports.
Provide simple administration of the database and associated forms, queries and reports.
Provide a guided approach to system use via a tailorable user interface using the STARS diagram and alternative direct item access (the STARS Interface).
Provide ‘smart agent’ assistance to users to simplify various tasks.
Run on an open source foundation.

Operational Policies and Constraints

The STARS Interface will be compatible with popular web browsers including Netscape 4.7.6 and 6, and Internet Explorer 5. (Note that some Microsoft products produce non Netscape compatible outputs, for example, Front Page can create forms that are not data enterable in Netscape).
The system shall be operable without a need for commercial proprietary software packages
The system shall be operable in both an Internet and intranet environment.

The following policies exist

The project will use Open Source programs and code for development wherever possible.
The project will minimize use of commercial proprietary packages for creation of the actual product so that ongoing development requires minimal investment. All such use shall be documented and agreed with the client.
The system will use Open Source programs and code for operation.

Description of the System

An operational STARS Webworx Data Systems consists of:

Database to capture and disseminate data.
Database management tools.
Capability to import, handle and export various document types including text and graphics (common formats should all be covered, e.g., .doc, .pdf, .txt, .gif, .jpg, .ppt, .avi, .qtw, etc.)
Generic Smart Agent technology to guide item selection for various types of users, collate/analyze data sets and produce ‘Best Practice’ examples, and allow users to re-enter system in various ways (e.g. standard entry, entry at point they left off last time, backtrack to an already performed action, jump forward preview).
Generic business rules processing that is tailorable for specific implementations.
Ability to set up multiple parallel ‘projects’ each tailorable in relation to the STARS stages.

An Operational STARS interface via a Web Browser:

Introductory screens to STARS, the STARS cycle showing all 30 stages
Interactive STARS cycle screen to access each STARS stage.
Alternative direct (quick) access to specific STARS stages.
Screen forms for a minimum of the five primary STARS stages (Set Goals, Think, Act, Review, Supply Improvements).
Screen forms for Suggestions screens, Process steps, Inputs, Outputs, Assumptions, Measures, Success Criteria, Templates input, Outcomes summary, Training.
Specific Smart Agents aiding use of the STARS concept.
Specific business rules embodied in the STARS concept.
Ability to create additional screens in a simple manner using built-in functionality (not external programs).
Ability to send information to other users of the STARS Webworx system.
 Log-on access control using as a minimum User names, password (and preferably secure socket layer (SSL) access control).
Interfaces should allow for external documentation or procedures. This may be achieved by both use of hyperlinks and the ability to load this information into the database.

USER capabilities - New Users, Normal users with standard, quick pick and Goal Seek capabilities.

Capabilities/functions of the new system are described by Use Cases (by type of user).

The STARS Webworx system must be capable of being scalable. This means that addition of processing power shall result in the ability to simultaneously support multiple users, in several different STARS ‘projects’. The degree of scalability should be specified, especially any limitations on scalability. This should be expressed separately for Intranet and Internet applications of the STARS Webworx system. Performance characteristics, such as speed and throughput, volume should be specified in the design and development documents.

Quality attributes, such as reliability, maintain­ability, availability, flexibility, portability, usability, efficiency shall be addressed in the design and development. In brief, the following should be covered:

Maintainability of the STARS Data System.
Maintainability of the database, screen forms, reports and users.
Maintainability of the STARS Interface.
Any specific need to download/update the client (web browser end).
Availability criteria for server based applications, and how design provides for high availability.

Robustness of server based applications against failures (types of failures should be listed with design actions, e.g. a client disconnects without logging off – the server should default to the last acknowledged action of the user).

Portability of stand-along variant (e.g. client and server able to run on one machine), and portability from one web server domain to another (either on the Internet or an intranet).

Usability for both graphical interface and alternate access (e.g. menus). Usability to reenter the system at last acknowledged point of activity (e.g. if completed ‘Brainstorming’ step in the Thinking Stage, user guided to next chosen suggestion which may be another Thinking Stage suggestion or an Action Stage suggestion).

Provisions for safety, security, privacy, and continuity of operations in emergencies, including:

Access control to the system in general (password log-in, SSL).
Access control to specific projects (privacy).
User access levels.
Application and data security to prevent unauthorized remote access and copying of the system in whole or in part.
Recovery mode for server based applications.  Application and Data backups. Application restart from selectable recovery points.

The prototype STARS Webworx tool implements many of the features requested, but will be subject to further development.

The prototype tool is available under the BSD Open Source license.