Introduction

James R Kass Space Consulting offers expert consulting in various space-related domains, as well as various more generic support services. The CEO and founder, Dr. James Kass, has more than 30 years experience in a broad assortment of domains and can thus offer multi-disciplinary system advice especially where a customer’s needs are best satisfied across disciplines, requiring a broad system approach to solving problems and creating appropriate solutions.

News and Events

Having a broad cultural background garnered living in six countries on three continents, and having worked in international organizations, research institutes, academia, industry, and charitable foundations, across two dozen countries, Dr Kass possesses broad cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary experience. He has served in numerous international working groups and on boards of advisors and directors of various organizations. His broad experience equips him to view and investigate problems that cross diverse disciplines and domains of expertise, some key examples of which are listed below.

Expertise across the following domains is offered:

  • Human Spaceflight and Aerospace
  • Telemedicine
  • Integrated Applications
  • Alternative Energy
  • Knowledge Management
  • Lessons Learned
  • Data Privacy
  • Psychosocial & Human Factors

Further detail for each domain is provided under the left menu links.

Possessing experience in a diverse range of areas pertaining to aerospace, human spaceflight, and micro-gravity, Dr. Kass has gathered over more than 25 years of expertise in these fields. These areas of expertise include: Astronaut training, crew procedures, operations, scientific research, design of HW, SW, MMI and HMI, flight and ground safety, simulations, neutral buoyancy, and parabolic flight. He has worked extensively with ESA and with national space agencies of USA (NASA, MSFC, JSC, KSC, DFRC), Germany (DLR), France (CNES, CNRS), Russia (IBMP, GCTC, RKA), Canada (CSA) and Japan (JAXA), as well as with space industry and academia, across Europe, North America and Russia.

Experiment operations by astronaut crew:
  • Crew experiment training
  • Crew procedures
  • Experiment operations manned by crew
  • Ground operations, procedures
Preparation and design of experiments
  • Design of H/W and S/W for space operations
  • Testing of H/W and S/W for space flight
  • Experiment requirements documentation
  • Flight and Ground Safety Data Packages
Real and simulated micro-gravity testing
  • Neutral buoyancy
  • Parabolic flight
  • Drop tower

When clients come to me for help in the challenging domain of Information & Knowledge Management, they have already begun to realize the importance of keeping informed of relevant and critical information as it is created and finding the right existing information quickly and easily. As the organizations grow and the information at their disposal skyrockets, discerning customers understand how dearly non-optimal management of information is costing them.

Effective management of archived knowledge and processes related to the dynamics of information exchange are essential keys in facilitating the sharing of information and harnessing the knowledge and experience of an organization’s workforce. There is often too much duplication of effort, failure to capitalize on existing competences, and lack of synchronization of changing information and dynamics of decision taking.


The challenges of sharing information and managing knowledge

Facilitating taking informed decisions

As an organization gets larger, it is often said that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Different directorates may need to make decisions and take actions related with their own domains of responsibility, but affecting the same subject or recipient. Without coordinated information exchange the recipient may end up receiving contradictory or incoherent instructions. There is often a need for coordinating activities between disparate parties in the organization, but there is no process in place to flag such dynamics in a timely manner so that the necessary information is exchanged before action is taken. Managing practical information exchange without flooding the involved parties with a deluge of information while ensuring that necessary mandatory processes are in place to ensure coordination where it is necessary is one of the existential challenges of information management.

Finding what you need to know

With the mounting deluge of data, finding what one needs is becoming increasingly frustrating. Data is often distributed in different repositories across organizations and servers, often based on different platforms and tools. Documents and data are based on scores of different formats, requiring different tools to open or view them. All told, the situation is more than often a chaotic nightmare for the user.

Understandably, organizations often wish to keep some of their legacy project, data and document management systems, but at the same time aim to increase their efficiency, and, if possible provide the user with a simple one-stop ‘access to everything’ interface. Our experts are quite familiar with this situation and we have found that by complementing and extending existing systems with the addition of some specific tools can be a good approach towards resolving these problems.

Very briefly, we have found that there are several critical areas that must be optimally and elegantly dealt with in order to facilitate sharing information and knowledge in an efficient and timely manner.

Our team of experts have reviewed a number of solutions and we have identified what we are certain are the appropriate solutions for a large organization, government agency or company. Instead of going into great detail here and providing detailed documents, we have found that potential interested parties are pleased to have an online remote demonstration of the capabilities of our solutions, thus avoiding time-consuming meetings, travel, and PowerPoint presentations, all of which take much time of all parties. We would therefore be pleased to arrange a remotely administered demo of these tools in a non-bureaucratic manner without any obligation.

 


Challenge I: DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT

Although some of our clients have already progressed to using document management systems to handle their numerous documents, alone, this is not sufficient to ensure that processes are followed in creation of the document, and that the right metadata are embedded. Moreover, we have found that ideally an optimal solution takes into account the processes and approval stages incorporating them into the creation and archiving of the document.

Such a system can be built up by combining industry-tandard tools of task management and workflow with a standard platform, such as SharePoint, adapted and customized to the individual needs and processes of the organization.

The approach is best illustrated with a case study whose goals, although specific, are not so different from many other typical situations.

A typical real world scenario

There are many solutions offered by many vendors; here we concentrate on a typical MS SharePoint-based situation. Although SharePoint comes with extensive document management, search, workflow, tasking and traceability functionalities, a full knowledge-management capable DMS solution requires customization and, often, 3rd-party extensions.

The core goals usually include:

  • Provide flexible, but automated support to author, review, and approve documents
  • Enhance user experience through visually-oriented features
  • Ensure compliance with regulatory and policy requirements

Finding and seeing content in an efficient way makes it easier to act. Document management usually goes hand in hand with review and approval processes.
For the SharePoint world we have found that visualizing the results with clear document previews, both as thumbnails and for the full document, significantly enhances the user experience and efficiency. The extension of the functionality to search results adds to this again.
Extending the SharePoint search to increase the search effectiveness and refinability combined with functionality that links business processes to the search results helps to make search-driven solutions very effective.

Of course, what applies to SharePoint applies generally to all DMS, CMS systems, whether they are custom built for the organization or purchased from a well-known vendor.
Sometimes it is possible to leverage the strong points of one solution to enhance the effectiveness of a complete environment. Intranet search applications created on SharePoint with enhanced search and document preview capabilities can be used to index and search almost any data source.


Please select the tab Challenge II


 

Challenge II: Information Management

Information management encompasses dynamic processing of information in such a manner that duplication of work will become less likely, and inconsistent decision taking e.g. by disparate units, will be prevented. Resolving such issues do not always require new tools or applications, but rather require effective implementation of existing tools.

A key example of where the Information Management and work processes management fails is the occurrence where two organizational units present completely contradictory outputs to the same recipient, based on the same input information. Both OUs process the input to their best ability and correctly according to their agreed internal working processes. The contradiction is caused by isolation from the other OUs processes and decision taking. Information Management has the capability to inject workflows that ensure awareness of parallel processing of requests from the same source and the, possibly mandatory, sharing of key milestone information throughout the process. This should then result in coordinated and well-documented responses to the requestor.

Knowledge sharing can have a free-flow component as well as mandatory components to fulfill specific business-process needs. Information management also covers the mandatory processes that govern the required structures from document management to business workflow implementation and maintenance. Knowledge management could be seen as the managed part of knowledge sharing within an organization.

The role of this consultancy, together with the support of its technical specialists, would in the first instance be to review the current as-is information management situation in an organization and then, based on this review, prepare a structure and roadmap focusing on establishing collaborative processes that would prevent duplication of information and disconnectedness amongst units.

The resulting plan and roadmap can then be used to test the current implementations of the IT tools and come to an effective implementation of these tools towards the formulated goals.

 

Please select the tab Challenge III

 


 

Challenge III: SEARCH & PREVIEW

Searching for information is a difficult task, even more difficult than looking for a needle in a haystack - one does not even know what the needle looks like! There are many types of search tools, each with various pros and cons. An organization needs a customized and customizable and flexible tool that can be tailored to its needs, customized to the user, and allowing advanced search criteria, in order to yield a narrower selection of useful results rather than a plethora of possibilities, most of which are not needed.

Moreover, as one often experiences, trying to preview the large number of search results can be a major headache. A simple and quick way of viewing the results of the search can save a lot of time and effort in order to more quickly find the exact document and page with the searched for information. A user-friendly preview tool that reduces the steps to assess the data is an additional time saver, and helps ensure that the correct document is not unnecessarily missed.

 

Please select the tab Challenge IV


 

Challenge IV: FUSION

The multiplicity of existing tools and databases used to store data across a large organization, not to mention the very different formats of these data, is often a challenging problem in the management of data. There is a need for a tool to act as a data broker between the many databases and systems storing the data. The various data sources must be linked or fused together in such a manner as to allow seamless access to the data without consideration of where it lies.

Fusing together all of an organization’s data - Migration and data accessibility.

For organizations and enterprises data accessibility and migration has always been a challenge. With the growing popularity of MS SharePoint migration issues from all kinds of data sources and repositories are numerous. Apart from SharePoint all kinds of other data systems can be endpoints in data linking or migration projects. Fusion, made by No-Code Solution, is a comprehensive self-contained application that enables such migrations and linking in a no-code fashion. This means that the application does not depend on MS SharePoint being installed and that the IT department does not have to go through time-consuming and error-prone coding exercises. Fusion supports all major database systems and can work with all major Line of Business systems like MS Dynamics CRM/AX/NAV, SAP NetWeaver, OData services, etc. (Currently the product is presented in a very SharePoint centric manner but Fusion is an endpoint to endpoint data management tool where endpoints can be almost any database, file system and content management environment.)

Why Lessons Learned?

Although it is all too often forgotten, history still repeats itself; and lessons can be learned from past experience. Repeating mistakes or ignorance of useful experience can cost an organization dearly.

The quality of sharing knowledge and experience amongst personnel is paramount towards an organization’s success and effective deployment of effort. In order to learn from past experience, and not repeat the errors of the past, and build on successes, there is a need to share lessons learned.

Tying together some 40 years of professional experience Dr Kass has recognized the importance of knowledge management and sharing corporate knowledge in an organization. As staff move to different responsibilities or retire, lessons that are learned are most often forgotten and the same mistakes are repeated over again.

Large organizations have begun to take Lessons Learned seriously

To counter this problem at the European Space Agency, Kass created a Lessons Learned System for ESA with a holistic approach embracing a browser-based tool and thematic events.

Recently, the European Commission has also recognized the importance of Lessons Learned and invited Dr Kass to speak and hold workshops on the subject (e.g. at the Learning Week held in Brussels in June 2015). The EC also fostered adoption of Lessons Learned in projects they support, e.g. the Engaged project invited Dr Kass to lead a round-table discussions on the subject (Feb 2014). More recently, Dr Kass was invited to moderate a session on Education at the 2nd Chance symposium sponsored by DG-GROW, because learning and sharing lessons is paramount as part of the educational process to prevent bankruptcy or to take effective and timely corrective measures even before early warning alarms ring.

The need for an holistic approach

The key to success is to approach the issue holistically. Simply creating an application, issuing a directive, or introducing a process, does not guarantee success – on the contrary, an inadequate approach can lead to failure in the first instance, thus discouraging association with the project.

It is therefore important that the working culture of the organization, the needs, psychology, habits, and dynamics are all taken into account, in addition to its technical and organizational infrastructure and hierarchy.

The success of introducing a tool to collect and archive explicit knowledge in the form of lessons learned, and a process to implement it, goes hand in hand with an awareness campaign and a training programme. The first goal has to be to ensure that the personnel of the organization are on board with the project and understand the advantages and need for investing effort towards this end. In fact, it should actively be encouraged that staff take ownership of the project!

An holistic approach includes:

  • Lessons Learned Process and Procedure
  • Lessons Learned Archive: Website and Database tool
  • Incorporating analysed data from User Feedback App
  • Awareness campaign and training programme
  • Lessons Learned Events
  • The social aspect: Ownership, Rewards & Recognition

In order to have a consistent and coherent approach to populating and utilizing a Lessons Learned system, a process accepted across the organization and at all levels is a prerequisite.

The controversial and challenging subject of Data Privacy is a current focus of Dr Kass’s efforts. Overcoming the conflicting needs to aggregate and analyse personal data while at the same time safeguarding personal privacy is a growing contemporary conundrum. Dr Kass has served as an expert on this subject with the EC, as well as with various other international bodies and working groups, such as NATO (Telemedicine Panel), EHTEL (European Health Telematics Association), Telemedicine Alliance (TMA).

Effective privacy protection of personal data is a critical element for the unhindered development of electronic communication technologies and business. There is a vast array of services made possible by collecting and processing data, that are becoming increasingly useful for the citizen, for the service provider, for research (e.g. medical ) – and in fact for almost every avenue of life.

Unfortunately, there is an apparent dilemma – increased services to the citizen are usually accompanied with increased aggregation of personal data, which, in turn, translates to increased jeopardy to data protection. And, adherence to the now very stringent privacy rules being invoked around the world can be very costly, while at the same time being rather ineffective, where, as is often the case, there is a dependence on human intervention.

Our mission is to harness the potential advantages of data collection while at the same time returning control of personal data to the individual. The citizen should NOT have to pay for the increased services by sacrificing privacy and protection of personal data!

During the course of his work he has frequently engaged in delicate and complex negotiations, often under time pressure and across language and cultural barriers. Moreover, he has been an adjunct professor of applied human sciences (Concordia) and still lectures in the domain of group dynamics, leadership, problem solving and conflict management (UCL). He has also served as an expert with the EC on conflict resolution restorative justice. These experiences have developed and honed his skills in leadership, negotiations, conflict resolution and arbitration, and related cross-cultural issues.

Dr Kass would also like to use his broad and long experience in the international arena to help both in high-level policy advice and fieldwork in areas such as governance, effective aid, peace-making, education, training, and development.