Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Model Driven Organisations

My recent work has been investigating approaches to model aspects of an organisation. This was motivated a while back by a presentation on Enterprise Architecture (EA) that I attended and being frustrated with the lack of precision offered by current approaches and the large number of different concepts involved. Work has evolved in two directions.

Firstly, we developed the language LEAP as an executable component-based modelling language based on the hypothesis that many of the features found in current EA modelling languages and analysis processes can be reduced to a small collection of concepts. Current LEAP work aims to integrate intentional aspects of goal-based languages such as KAOS and i* into components.

The second direction addresses the problems that are faced by a modern organisation in terms of its complexity. It is rare for any single individual to have a clear understanding of its information, IT systems, business context and processes. This makes an organisation difficult to manage and maintain. Issues such as regulatory compliance, mergers and acquisitions, outsourcing, etc., can easily get bogged down in detail. Colleagues Balbir BarnRobert France, Ulrich FrankVinay Kulkarni and I have proposed the idea of the Model Driven Organization (MDO) to help address these issues. The idea is that aspects of a business can be modelled and the models can be used to support key EA issues. Models are good at abstracting from implementation detail which makes it easier to perform key analyses and to replace specific implementation platforms. Models can be sliced and presented to different stakeholders in domain-specific ways making it easier for them to understand how an organisation operates without being a technology specialist.

Taking this idea to its limit, all aspects of an organisation could be modelled and the organisation could be run directly from the models; changing the model will directly affect the organisation. What would need to be modelled? The diagram below presents some of the features that a language for MDO would need to offer:

The MDO provides a challenging application domain for model-based engineering research.