OntoNaviERP: Ontology-supported Navigation in ERP Software Documentation

author: Martin Hepp, Bundeswehr University of Munich
published: Nov. 24, 2008,   recorded: October 2008,   views: 12138


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The documentation of Enterprise Research Planning (ERP) systems is usually (1) extremely large and (2) combines various views from the business and the technical implementation perspective. Also, a very specific vocabulary has evolved, in particular in the SAP domain (e.g. SAP Solution Maps or SAP software module names). This vocabulary is not clearly mapped to business management terminology and concepts. It is a well-known problem in practice that searching in SAP ERP documentation is difficult, because it requires in-depth knowledge of a large and proprietary terminology. We propose to use ontologies and automatic annotation of such large HTML software documentation in order to improve the usability and accessibility, namely of ERP help files. In order to achieve that, we have developed an ontology and prototype for SAP ERP 6.0. Our approach integrates concepts and lexical resources from (1) business management terminology, (2) SAP business terminology, (3) SAP system terminology, and (4) Wordnet synsets. We use standard GATE/KIM technology to annotate SAP help documentation with respective references to our ontology. Eventually, our approach consolidates the knowledge contained in the SAP help functionality at a conceptual level. This allows users to express their queries using a terminology they are familiar with, e.g. referring to general management terms. Despite a widely automated ontology construction process and a simplistic annotation strategy with minimal human intervention, we experienced convincing results. For an average query linked to an action and a topic, our technology returns more than 3 relevant resources, while a naïve term-based search returns on average only about 0.2 relevant resources.

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