Towards a method for designing methods

Art der Arbeit:
  • Masterarbeit Wirtschaftsinformatik


In practice and academia a wide variety of methods for different classes of typical business informatics problems exists, developed by consultancy agencies, standardization bodies, software companies, universities, and public-private partnerships. 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.  Yet, 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 master’s thesis is to construct a method for constructing methods - i.e., a meta-method. This meta-method shall at the very least consist of a meta-model which describes the core elements of a method and a process, and corresponding guidelines, for instantiating the method, so that the meta-method at hand can be used to create or adapt a method to the situation at hand. To showcase the meta-methods fitness for use, you use it for the construction of a method for a domain/context of choice.


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