Original Title: On methods: a systematic description of methods as a first step towards a meta-method

On methods: a systematic description of methods as a first step towards a meta-method

  • Bachelor Thesis Business Information Systems


A method aims at solving a class of problems, and typically consists of a linguistic artifact and a process for using it (Strecker et al, 2010). An example following this definition is RiskM (Strecker et al, 2010), a method for IT risk assessment which consists of a conceptual modeling language called RiskM, and a process model plus various heuristics.

In practice a wide variety of methods for different classes of typical business informatics problems exists, developed by consultancy agencies, standardization bodies, and software companies. Such methods include agile software development methods (Qumer, 2008), or methods for enterprise architecture design and management (Winter et al, 2010). The wide variety of methods is not surprising, as in addressing a particular problem (e.g., developing a new piece of software) the adoption of an appropriate method allows one to, roughly speaking, capitalize on codified experiences with similar problems encountered in the past. Thus, one does not have to start from scratch. However, the effectiveness of a method to a large extent depends on how well it fits with the context of use. For one, while there is currently a hype to develop all software in an agile manner, anecdotal remarks from software developers in the banking industry hint that agile methods do not lend themselves well to the nature of the banking domain, as often concerns such as security and stability of a system take prevalence over its quick “agile” development.

Furthermore, even if there is a fit of a method with the domain of use, to be effective the method often needs to be adapted to the context of use (Henderson-Sellers et al (2011)). Here, a major challenge is that there is no uniform view of what are the constituents of a method. For one, whereas agile software development methods are characterized by adherence to a set of principles (from the agile manifesto (Fowler et al, 2001)), enterprise architecture methods typically aim at offering a set of different perspectives (sometimes also called layers, or dimensions (cf. Winter et al, 2006)), with concepts that are relevant for describing each perspective. This hints at what actually characterizes a method in practice can be quite diverse, in terms of adhering to a common way of thinking, providing a process,  a process and a modeling language, or all of the above complemented with heuristics and guidelines. In the end, this lack of a uniform method conception inhibits the systematic adaptation of methods to a given enterprise's context of use.

The aim of this bachelor thesis is to describe and compare methods. In particular, your aim is to observe similarities and differences between the methods being employed, so as to provide a first step towards a common description of what are the core constituencies of a method. As a point of departure for this comparison, one can use ideas from method engineering (e.g., Henderson-Sellers et al (2011)) and the understanding of a method as put forward in Strecker et al. (2010). Note that while you have a choice as to what methods are selected, the criteria for method selection must be grounded in a solid argumentation.


Strecker, Stefan, David Heise, and Ulrich Frank. "RiskM: A multi-perspective modeling method for IT risk assessment." Information Systems Frontiers 13.4 (2011): 595-611.

Henderson-Sellers, Brian, and Jolita Ralyté. "Situational method engineering: state-of-the-art review." Journal of Universal Computer Science (2010).

Qumer, Asif, and Brian Henderson-Sellers. "An evaluation of the degree of agility in six agile methods and its applicability for method engineering." Information and software technology 50.4 (2008): 280-295.

Winter, Katharina, et al. "Investigating the State-of-the-Art in Enterprise Architecture Management Methods in literature and Practice." MCIS (2010).

Winter, Robert, and Ronny Fischer. "Essential layers, artifacts, and dependencies of enterprise architecture." Enterprise Distributed Object Computing Conference Workshops, 2006. EDOCW'06. 10th IEEE International. IEEE, 2006.

Fowler, Martin, and Jim Highsmith. "The agile manifesto." Software Development 9.8 (2001): 28-35.