3.2. Metamodeling and method specifications

3.2.1. Objectives

In the MetaPHOR project the objectives for developing metamodeling principles and formal method specifications are the following:

to develop general guidelines and frameworks to support method engineers' work,

to study and test metamodeling languages for specifying ISD methods,

to apply and test metamodeling approaches for comparing ISD methods and supporting their use in CASE tools by a set of metrics and frameworks, that allows for comparison and analysis of new and existing methods .

to develop ISD methods with an emphasis on new fields and unexplored possibilities for IS modelling which lack extensive and rigorous support, such as inter-organisational networks.

3.2.2. Results

The main focus of research work has been on testing and studying metamodeling languages in modelling alternative ISD methods. Results of this work have been presented in two refereed articles (Tolvanen et al. 1993, Tolvanen and Lyytinen 1993). Second part of the work has concentrated both on developing principles of methodology engineering and on method comparison. In the former, we have applied an approach of incremental method development in supporting business modelling (Tolvanen 1994). This paper applies methods and tools developed in MetaPHOR and describes a method engineering case study carried out in one Finnish company. In the latter, method comparison part, we have applied metamodeling approach to compare ISD methods and tried to clarify their conceptual structures (Brinkkemper and Rossi 1994, Rossi and Tolvanen 1994).

In conjunction with the comparison research we have also developed, in co-operation with Prof. Sjaak Brinkkemper from University of Twente, Netherlands, a suite of metrics for analysis of methods properties. This approach is quite unique in respect to comparison of methods, and it will be reported in (Brinkkemper and Rossi 1994). The metrics have also been tested by applying them to the methods implemented in the earlier version of MetaEdit.

In order to support various kinds of modelling requirements we have also studied the capabilities of current methods to support business modelling and business process re-engineering (Tolvanen and Lyytinen 1994). The results of this work support both the development of (meta)methods for method engineering (especially integration of methods), and development of modelling methods for a specific modelling field, i.e. to support modelling of business processes and logistic systems. Part of this work has been carried out in another research project (VTT/TEKES research program on business logistics). Furthermore, in this project business modelling methods and environments have been built based on the developed metamodeling approach (Lindström et al. 1994).

To support the method engineering activities we have developed a comprehensive set of CAME tools (Rossi, 1994).

Furthermore method engineering principles will be applied in co-operation with European FEND network which aims to build tools and develop methods for business modelling.

3.2.3. Future plans

In the future we will continue the development of incremental approach of method engineering. The main objective is to develop a comprehensive meta-method for method engineering. Part of this work is already represented in (Tolvanen 1994). Another topic to be addressed is the development of CASE-enhanced methods. Here our aim is to investigate the current CASE tools support for ISD methods and investigate possibilities of CASE shells and method engineering to improve the tool support. Examples of these improvements are use of simulation and hypertext features. Third area is the development of a comprehensive suite of tools for incremental method engineering, with support for various representations of methods; this work will be reported during spring 1995.