[Home] [Recent & Relevant] [Publications] [Lectures] [Contact]

Methodology engineering in CASE: towards an incremental approach

Abstract of Licentiate thesis

The main objective of this study is to increase the flexibility and adaptability of methodology use in Computer Aided Software/Systems Engineering (CASE) environments. The reason for this research objective can be found from the parallel evolution of CASE and information system development (ISD) methodologies: although adequate support for ISD has been attempted through CASE for several years, it has tended towards technical features, software components and tool functionality. This has lead to severe limitations of methodology use in CASE. One of the most relevant is the inadequate support for situation dependent methodology use. Because the selection and use of ISD methodologies differs between organizations, between projects and even between individual developers, supporting tools should be flexible and able to take into account varying development contingencies. Furthermore, changing objectives of ISD, such as object-oriented approach, client/server architectures and business process re-engineering, have raised a need for a new methodological basis which can not be satisfied through current methodologies and fixed tool support.

The general research objective is defined in the thesis as a problem of methodology engineering (ME). To draw on an analogy to software engineering, ME seeks to develop and improve ISD methods by applying systematic and rigorous principles. To continue the analogy, as software engineering is supported by ISD methodologies, similarly ME is driven by a meta-methodology. Thus, in order to develop methods and support them flexible in CASE we need similar methodological guidelines. In the thesis one such an approach named an incremental ME is suggested. Thus, in the study we strive 1) to develop guidelines and methods for actual ME, covering a clarification of how ISD methods should be constructed, and how to develop computer support for their use; and 2) to develop guidelines and principles for evaluating the results of ME.

To support methodology engineering in CASE we first make a survey of a set of ISD and business modeling methods and methodologies, and build a general framework to categorize them. Based on the recognized poor support for business modeling the thesis concentrates on modeling of business modeling methods. Second, the preliminary guidelines for the ME process are formulated and applied through an method adaptation example. Third, constructs for computer-aided models for metamodeling are suggested. Finally, by applying models and procedural guidelines developed for ME an incremental approach is suggested. This approach tries to search for new possibilities and options to use and develop methods which can meet diverse ISD contingencies and support creative method usage.

Keywords:information systems development, development methodologies, metamodeling, methodology engineering, CASE environments