Enterprise Modelling Software Tool for Applying the MEMO Method (MEMOCenterNG)

Research project

Description

Software-supported multiperspective enterprise modelling

Enterprise modeling is faced with challenges in making it possible to deal with real subjects from a business context symbolically in varying degrees of detail and from several different perspectives. This task in the first instance requires strong competencies in dealing with visual symbol systems and both linguistic and non-linguistic means of expression. It is also necessarily bound to the support of a software tool, because the non-material artefacts of modeling, namely visual diagrams and textual specifications, can only form an integrated multi-perspective model of an enterprise if the software ensures the overall consistency of a model.

Requirements for a software-tool aimed at enterprise modeling are thus not limited to visually displaying diagrams and providing graphical editing functions for diagrams. A suitable modeling tool also incorporates fundamental domain-specific language concepts as abstract building blocks with specific semantics. Based on the relationships between these means of expression, a tool should support explicating relationships between elements of description, provide support for specific workflows in modeling domain-specific statements of affairs and provide options for navigating through the knowledge incorporated in the model across the boundaries of single diagrams.

In the case of an enterprise modeling tool, this means, for instance, linking activities and processes with the strategic goals of the enterprise, and offering a form of navigation with the software-tool that allows the derivation of associated strategic goals and measures from activities and processes. In the same sense, employees or organizational units and resources can be systematically modelled and put in the context of activities and processes via specific tool support.

MEMOCenterNG

The MEMOCenterNG project is currently being developed at the Institute for Business Informatics and Enterprise Modeling at the University of Duisburg-Essen as a prototype of an enterprise modelling software tool. The languages proposed by the MEMO Method (vgl. [Frank1994], [Frank1995] ff.) become practicable with this software-tool. Currently a subset of the functionality described by the MEMO method is being realized by a number of graphical modeling languages which are made available by the tool:

  • Organisation-Diagram
    for modeling the organizational structure of an enterprise
  • Strategy-Diagam
    for explicating the strategic issues of an enterprise
  • Activity-Diagram
    areas of business acitvity from a macro perspective
  • Ressource-Diagram
    physical and intangible resources of an enterprise
  • Control-Flow-Diagram
    process modeling of the operative activities in an enterprise
  • Decomposition-Diagram
    structural refinement of composed processes
  • Allocation-Diagram
    resource usage in an enterprise
  • Class-Diagram
    object-oriented modelling as an interface to implementation

Meta-modelling to integrate perspectives and views

To provide for seamless integration among different perspectives on an enterprise model, concepts and language elements of enterprise models are formally specified on a type-level in a meta-model, generally describing the semantic relations of model elements in a general sense. This makes a framework available in which relations among different perspectives and views, as well as consistency-conditions inside the models, are formally specified. From such a formal specification, a wide range of functionality of a software-modelling-tool can automatically be derived, which ensures synchronicity between the conceptually modelled language elements in the meta-model and the functionality of a modelling tool.

Standardized exchange formats of the Eclipse Modelling Framework

A standardized platform for creating software modelling-tools from metamodels is the Eclipse Modelling Framework (EMF, www.eclipse.org/emf). The framework provides a flexible configurable mechanism for generating modelling tools, which despite their specific semantics share a common data format by using the XML-based XMI. As EMF-based modelling tools also rely on a common meta-metamodel, provided by the Ecore metamodelling-language inside the Eclipse Modelling Framework, there is also a high potential for integrating seperately developed modelling languages and tools inside the EMF framework. MEMOCenterNG was developed on the basis of the Eclipse Modelling Framework and thus, despite being a scientific prototype application, profits from a number of matured features made available by the framework:

  • Diagram editors with advanced features (zoom, bird’s eye view, printing, graphics export)
  • unified user-interface inside the Eclipse workbench
  • standardized data exchange format XMI
  • platform independent implementation, runs on Windows, Linux, MacOS

Documentation

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