Business Process Simulation: An Alternative Modelling Technique for the Information System Development Process

Business Process Simulation: An Alternative Modelling Technique for the Information System Development Process

Tony Elliman (Brunel University, UK), Tally Hatzakis (Brunel University, UK) and Alan Serrano (Brunel University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-278-7.ch012
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This paper discusses the idea that even though information systems development (ISD) approaches have long advocated the use of integrated organisational views, the modelling techniques used have not been adapted accordingly and remain focused on the automated information system (IS) solution. Existing research provides evidence that business process simulation (BPS) can be used at different points in the ISD process to provide better integrated organisational views that aid the design of appropriate IS solutions. Despite this fact, research in this area is not extensive; suggesting that the potential of using BPS for the ISD process is not yet well understood. The paper uses the findings from three different case studies to illustrate the ways BPS has been used at different points in the ISD process. It compares the results against IS modelling techniques, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages that BPS has over the latter. The research necessary to develop appropriate BPS tools and give guidance on their use in the ISD process is discussed.
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This article looks at Information Systems Development (ISD) and examines the potential role of simulation techniques within the Information System (IS) developer’s toolkit. Since the inception of business data processing in the 1950s, ISD has remained a complex and unreliable process with the research repeatedly reporting high levels of failed projects (Standish Group, 1999).

Early approaches to discipline ISD focused on treating it as a production process and gave rise to the linear, or waterfall, Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC). This was perceived to have three advantages: (1) it follows a series of specific and sequential phases from the beginning of the project until its end; (2) it advocates the use of techniques and tools to formulate step by step the detailed design and to implement the IS; and (3) it introduces the use of project management tools to control the overall process.

Despite the initial success of the linear SDLC, it did not deliver a dramatic reduction in the project failure rate, and a number of limitations was identified. For example, it is argued that instead of meeting organizational objectives, the traditional or linear SDLC aims to design an IS to help to solve low-level operational tasks (Avison & Fitzgerald, 2003). In addition, it is claimed that the traditional SDLC focuses on automating processes rather than proposing innovative integrated solutions (Rhodes, 1998). It is important to recognize that in parallel with the adoption of more rigorous ISD techniques, there also has been a progressive demand for IS to deal with more complex and wide-ranging business processes.

In trying to address some of these limitations, IS practitioners have proposed a wide range of alternative ISD approaches by emphasizing different aspects of the development process. For instance, some methodologies claim that organizational objectives can be met better by stressing the analysis of the organizational processes. Examples of these are structured analysis and design of IS (STRADIS), SSADM (OGC, 2000), and Yourdon Systems Method (YSM). Others, such as information engineering (IE), claim that organizational goals can be addressed better by placing more emphasis on the analysis of the data. Finally, there are approaches like Merise that consider both processes and data with equal importance (Vessey & Glass, 1998). Most of these approaches stress a scientific or functionalist approach by breaking up a complex system into its constituent parts. However, there are other approaches, like soft systems methodology (SSM) (Checkland & Scholes, 1999), that suggest that the properties of the whole system cannot be explained in terms of the properties of its constituent parts but can be understood better when looked at from a holistic perspective. A key issue is the dichotomy between methodologies, like SSM, that see the human actors and decision makers as part of the system and those that focus on the automated all programmed elements as the system. The former wider view introduces complex sociotechnological issues that are avoided in the latter narrower perspective.

Even though ISD approaches long have advocated the use of integrated organizational views, appropriate modeling techniques have not been adopted, and practice remains focused on the automated IS solution. For example, well-defined IS modeling techniques are available in order to understand the overall function of the system in question, to understand IS data structures, or to model the processes involved in the IS software (see Figure 1). There is, however, very little indication of modeling techniques for examining organizational views that explicitly integrate automated software and human activities (Giaglis, Hlupic, Vreede, & Verbraeck, 2005).

Figure 1.

Classification of modeling techniques adapted from Avison and Fitzgerald (2003)

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Terry Halpin
When modeling information systems, one often encounters subtyping aspects of the business domain that can prove challenging to implement in either... Sample PDF
Enriched Conceptualization of Subtyping
Chapter 2
Alessandro Artale, C. Maria Keet
This chapter focuses on formally representing life cycle semantics of part-whole relations in conceptual data models by utilizing the temporal... Sample PDF
Essential, Mandatory, and Shared Parts in Conceptual Data Models
Chapter 3
Peter Bollen
In this chapter the authors extend the ORM conceptual modeling language with constructs for capturing the relevant parts of an application ontology... Sample PDF
Extending the ORM Conceptual Schema Language and Design Procedure with Modeling Constructs for Capturing the Domain Ontology
Chapter 4
Janis Stirna, Anne Persson
This chapter presents experiences and reflections from using the EKD Enterprise Modeling method in a number of European organizations. The EKD... Sample PDF
EKD: An Enterprise Modeling Approach to Support Creativity and Quality in Information Systems and Business Development
Chapter 5
Anders Carstensen, Lennart Holmberg, Kurt Sandkuhl, Janis Stirna
This chapter discusses how an Enterprise Modeling approach, namely C3S3P1, has been applied in an automotive supplier company. The chapter... Sample PDF
Integrated Requirement and Solution Modeling: An Approach Based on Enterprise Models
Chapter 6
John Krogstie, Frank Lillehagen
Innovative design is the most important competitive factor for global engineering and manufacturing. Critical challenges include cutting lead times... Sample PDF
Methodologies for Active Knowledge Modeling
Chapter 7
Peretz Shoval, Mark Last, Avihai Yampolsky
In the analysis phase of the information system development, the user requirements are studied, and analysis models are created. In most UML-based... Sample PDF
Data Modeling and Functional Modeling: Examining the Preferred Order of Using UML Class Diagrams and Use Cases
Chapter 8
Mauri Leppänen
A large number of strategies, approaches, meta models, techniques and procedures have been suggested to support method engineering (ME). Most of... Sample PDF
OntoFrame: An Ontological Framework for Method Engineering
Chapter 9
Patrick van Bommel, Stijn Hoppenbrouwers, Erik Proper, Jeroen Roelofs
A process-oriented framework (QoMo) is presented that aims to further the study of analysis and support of processes for modeling. The framework is... Sample PDF
Concepts and Strategies for Quality of Modeling
Chapter 10
John Erickson, Keng Siau
This chapter presents the basic ideas underlying Service Oriented Architecture as well as a brief overview of current research into the phenomena... Sample PDF
Service Oriented Architecture: A Research Review from the Software and Applications Perspective
Chapter 11
Vítor Estêvão Silva Souza, Ricardo de Almeida Falbo, Giancarlo Guizzardi
In the Web Engineering area, many methods and frameworks to support Web Information Systems (WISs) development have already been proposed.... Sample PDF
Designing Web Information Systems for a Framework-Based Construction
Chapter 12
Tony Elliman, Tally Hatzakis, Alan Serrano
This paper discusses the idea that even though information systems development (ISD) approaches have long advocated the use of integrated... Sample PDF
Business Process Simulation: An Alternative Modelling Technique for the Information System Development Process
Chapter 13
Leandro Dias da Silva, Elthon Allex da Silva Oliveira, Hyggo Almeida, Angelo Perkusich
In this chapter a formal agent based approach for the modeling and verification of intelligent information systems using Coloured Petri Nets is... Sample PDF
An Agent Based Formal Approach for Modeling and Verifying Integrated Intelligent Information Systems
Chapter 14
Jan vom Brocke
With the design of reference models, an increase in the efficiency of information systems engineering is intended. This is expected to be achieved... Sample PDF
Design Principles for Reference Modelling: Reusing Information Models by Means of Aggregation, Specialisation, Instantiation and Analogy
Chapter 15
Eleni Berki
Information systems development methodologies and associated CASE tools have been considered as cornerstones for building quality in an information... Sample PDF
Examining the Quality of Evaluation Frameworks and Metamodeling Paradigms of Information Systems Development Methodologies
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