advantages of Using business models

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BENEFITS OF USING BUSINESS MODELS AND PRACTICES IN ORGANISATIONS.

Introduction

The aim of this report is to discuss the benefits of using business modeling (UML) in Information System (IS) organisations.

To realise the aim of this report two academic journals would be used and facts/figures would be drawn from these journals. These journals will help us outline the benefits of using business modeling in organisations.

The journals which would be used in this report and are:

  • Unified Modeling Language (UML) Topics: The Past, the Problems, and the Prospects
  • Dimension of UML Diagram Use: A Survey of Practitioners.

The first section of this report will be a literature review; this section will discuss business models and their benefits according to certain UML practitioners.

In the second section, I would be analysing the journals above and focusing on how business models are used in organisations (Organisational UML usage), information conveyed by using UML diagrams and role of UML diagrams.

Also within this section; the viewpoints of the reports would be discussed and analysed.

The final part will be the conclusions. This section would also incorporate the recommendations.

For the purpose of this report I would be focusing on Unified Modeling Language (UML).

UML is the visual modeling language for Object Oriented (OO) system development; it is derived from merging various modeling methods to form a combined analysis and design technique which today is referred to as UML.

(Siau et al, 2005: 40)

Literature Review

Models

Satzinger et al explains that 'A model is a representation of some aspect of the system being built.'

Business models are used to analyse or/and design software.

Kruchten (1995) states that 'A complete business model is shown in a number of views, similar to how a software system is modeled in a number of views.'

An analyst, in most cases a business analyst gathers the requirements of the system being built from the users (stakeholders) within the organisation; he digests the information and creates various requirement models to showcase/convey the requirements gathered at a glance.

The models are used at the various stages of the project life cycle depending on the methodology/information system being used.

The analyst determines the appropriate models to be used based on the information he wants to depict.

Eriksson, H. and Penker, M.(2000) have come up with a list of bullet points outlining how the business model can help create the software system(s) that best supports and fits into an organisation.

The business model is used in software modeling to:

  • Identify the information systems that best support the operation of the business: Can be new systems, standard systems, or legacy systems.
  • Find functional requirements: Identifies the correct set of functions that the system should supply to the business processes.
  • Find non-functional requirements: E.g. robustness, security, availability, and performance.
  • Act as a basis for analysis and design of the system: E.g. Information about resources in the business model can be used to identify classes in the system.
  • Identify suitable components: Modern software development makes use of components; Business models are a good way to identify areas of functionality and to define the appropriate set of services.
Types of Models

There are various reasons for using multiple models (diagrams) to showcase the project functionalities/requirements, as each model conveys different information to the intended users.

Eriksson, H. and Penker, M. (2000) explains that's 'Many development processes that use UML advocate that the system development should start with use case modeling to define the functional requirements on the system'

UML supports the following kinds of models:

  • Use Cases
  • Static Models - Class diagrams
  • Dynamic Models - Activity diagrams, Sequence diagrams, State charts etc.
The Benefits of Models

Models makes it easier for the intended users to understand complex/complicated information that would be difficult to understand when explained verbally; It also showcases the main aspects of the system being built so its easier for the stakeholders to understand and thus give appropriate criticism or feedback as to what they want the system to do and not do (Functional /Non Functional requirements).

Also, another benefit of models is it enables the users to visualise the system/process flows and facilitates communication amongst the project team and the users (Stakeholders); client participation has been considered crucial to successful system development.

Discussion & Analysis

Researchers have given an insight as to what the past, the problems and the prospects of UML in the future will be.

One of the major benefits of UML is it is designed with a rich set of diagrammatic notations which can be used to model any type of software application. Hence UML can be used in a vast number of projects for requirements determination, analysis & design and coding.

UML diagrams are used in various projects. The most frequently used models are class diagrams, use case diagram and sequence diagrams respectively whilst use cases descriptions are the least used. Hence the writers challenges use-case driven assumptions.

Interesting findings on UML usage is discovered based on: Organisational size, project size, respondent experience, UML tools availability, Industry and system type.

Contrary to beliefs, stakeholders willingly approve the use of UML diagrams in projects and are hands on to help develop UML diagrams.

UML has been adopted by a number of methodologies such as RUP. Methodologies help streamline a project and with the expertise of UML; it is expected to address organisational and project management issues.

UML has some limitations as with every other product on the shelf; regardless of its limitations, the adoption of UML and its tools has been widespread.

Batra (2001) explains that there are a number of interesting research areas/prospects on UML topics which include:

  • Usability concerns
  • Cognitive matters
  • Complexity issues
  • Web applications
  • Data modeling and warehousing aspects
  • Modeling constraints
  • Model driven architecture
  • Domain modeling
  • Component based development
  • Object constraints
  • UML's role in agile methodologies
  • Ontology concerns
  • Training issues
  • Curriculum

A survey research strategy was carried out on respondents to investigate how UML is used in practice.

Understanding current practices can make an important contribution to both theoretical and applied research on UML. From a practical perspective, usage patterns results to best practices and understanding how the language is used can help support its evolution.

A research was conducted in a local UML group along with about a dozen of informal interviews carried out on UML practitioners.

The practitioners' approaches differed from one another with a slight or higher degree.

The use of UML diagrams depended on how often the analyst used them if at all; most of the users drew a Use case (Ranging from simple to complex ones on the same information set).

A survey was conducted to gather some data on the respondent experience in IT.

Another survey was carried out pertaining to overall UML diagram usage. Respondents were asked "What proportion of the object-oriented/UML projects that you have been involved with have used the following UML components?

A five point usage scale was used which are: None, <1/3. 1/3, -2/3, >2/3 and All.

The question focussed on diagrams used in projects and not diagrams used personally by respondent as respondents tends to specialise in using specific UML diagrams dependent on their job role/types of project involved in/expertise.

From the table above, 44% of respondents report that use case narratives are used in tow-thirds or more of their projects.

Class diagrams were the most frequently used, with 73% usage in two-thirds of their projects.

Use case diagrams and sequence diagrams were ranked 3rd and 4th respectively.

Role of UML Diagrams

The main role UML plays during System Development Life Cycle is it facilitates communication amongst the project team and stakeholders.

According to the survey conducted, the result showcases the usefulness of all UML diagrams in relation to verifying and validating user requirements.

A use case diagram provides an overview of the system being built. Based on the survey as discussed earlier, class diagrams are noted as the most useful and most used UML diagram.

A survey question was posed to the respondents "How successful has the UML been in facilitating communication with clients"?

The mean result was 3.28 with the scale being a 5 point scale 0 to 5(Not to very successful)

Recommendations

On the issue of complexity as this has been one of the limitations of UML diagrams, the language could be simplified to eliminate this limitation.

In addition, some work and research might need to be carried out in order to simplify the UML diagrams which might include modifying the diagrams, syntax and notations.

Also based on my findings collaboration and state diagrams are used less often in comparison to class diagrams as illustrated in Table 2, so these diagrams could be eliminated to make analyst concentrate on the other UML diagrams.

Encouraging stakeholders to participate in development and reviews of artifacts would be beneficial to the analyst and in turn would be beneficial for the organisation as it would help eliminate delivery of a wrong system which wastes capital, resources, manpower and more importantly time.

Conclusion

Pender (2003) states that UML has rapidly become the de facto standard for modeling object-oriented systems development.

With the aid of the journals used; we have been able to examine the benefits of business models. From this, I am able to draw my conclusions on how using business models would benefit organisations/individuals and also investigate why business models are used and not used in organisations.

We were able to find out from the journals that most respondents specialise in

One or two UML diagrams and do not bother learning others due to the fact they believe there is no need for it. However, the journals explains that each model has its own use and is used based on what the analyst would like to show/ analyst discretion.

Business modeling diagrams shows the intended user activities performed in a system at a glance and creates room for thoughts as the diagrams are visualised by the users and tends to stick in their memory more than when it was just a verbal conversation.

Studies shows humans are more likely to remember what they see (graphical diagrams) and perceive than when they hear or read.

References

  • Batra, D., 2001. Unified Modeling Language (UML) Topics: The Past, the Problems, and the Prospects. Journal of Database Management, 19(1), pp.74-94
  • Dobing, B., and Parsons, J.,2008. Dimensions of UML diagram use: A survey of practitioners. Journal of Database Management, 12(1), 4-14
  • Eriksson, H., and Penker, M., 2000. Business Modeling With UML: Business Patterns At Work. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc
  • Kruchten, P.,1995. The 4+1 View Model of Architecture. IEEE Software, IEEE.
  • Pender, T., 2003. UML bible.Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Publishing.
  • Siau, K., Erickson, J. and Lee, L.Y., 2005. Theoretical vs. Practical Complexity: The Case of UML. Journal of Database Management.16 (3), pp. 40-57
  • Satzinger, J. W., Jackson, R. B.and Burd, S. D.,2005.Object-Oriented Analysis and Design with the Unified Process, Thomson, Boston, Massachusetts

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