THE UNIVERSAL MODEL:
A Paradigm Shift to Accelerate Analysis
by Alec Smyth - Senior Consultant and
Warren Hayford - Managing Principal
© Copyright 1995-1996 Visible Systems
The Universal Model: A Paradigm Shift to
Every development methodology comes with a paradigm invisibly
attached. The assumptions and expectations of its practitioners
are largely a product of familiarity with specific tools and
The conventional Information Engineering analyst approaches
problems with a paradigm in which every organization is assumed
to be unique. The modeller begins with a blank slate and develops
a custom model one entity at a time.
By contrast, an Object Oriented analyst never leaves home
without an extensive class library. And the use of a class
library encourages a view of software development as "design
by exception." Under this approach reuse is the norm.
The two paradigms are at extremes of the evolutionary range
which John Zachman has emphasized in his work. Zachman uses
manufacturing to describe his three levels of evolution.
In the first level, everything is custom made. The advantage
at this level is that the customer gets exactly what is
requested. The downside is the cost. Each customer pays for all
of the design and set up charges as well as the cost of the
unique talents required to develop the product. This is the
evolutionary level which many of the large Information
Engineering projects have taken place. So much time and money are
spent on getting exact custom requirements (in the form of data
and process models) that the customer has to "pull the
plug" before anything is developed.
This situation has led to the second level, in which items are
mass produced. The industry specific templates being sold by
Information Engineering vendors fit into this category. The basic
premise here is that all organizations in an industry are exactly
alike. Therefore the data model that works for one works for all.
The cost of these templates is significantly lower than the
completely custom model which gives them great appeal. The
downside of this approach is that the business strategies and
goals of an organization change the focus and therefore the rules
that are depicted in the data model. Therefore a significant
effort is still required to re-model the affected areas. In
addition the detailed attributes in the template reflect the
terminology used in one organization and rarely mean the same
thing to another organization.
The detail and rework defined have led to the third level
described by Zachman, in which items are assembled to order. At
this level, functions are the focal point. The development of a
customer solution is to develop all of the pieces which may be
necessary and assemble them to order for a customer. In the
Information Engineering world, this means starting with core
sub-models of common functions and customizing the model by
adding organization-specific attributes and names. A model
assembled for a specific company from universal object classes
provides the benefits of a fully customized solution with several
advantages. It is more stable than a model built from scratch,
because it is built from pre-tested components. It translates
easily into either relational or object oriented implementations.
But above all, it takes only a fraction of the time to develop.
The IES Group has announced the release of a
"Universal" model which meets the criteria of Zachman's
third evolutionary level. We have leveraged the experience of our
consultants and clients to develop this "Universal"
model. The model consists of approximately 35 distinct yet
interrelated business objects.
A client purchasing the model will be able to easily customize
it by populating it with their priority performance measures and
other key attributes, labels which are specific to the
organization, categories which will be used for reporting and
analysis, and IES consultants are familiar with the model and how
to take advantage of it at your organization. By using the
"Universal" model you will be bringing vastly greater
experience to bear on every modeling situation and be able to
meet those ever shortening deadlines being imposed by today's
rapidly changing business environment.
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If you are interested in learning more about how making
this exciting paradigm shift can help your organization, please please contact
us as detailed below.
Visible Systems Corporation
201 Spring Street Lexington MA 02421 USA
Phone: +1-781-778-0200 · Fax +1-781-778-0208
Web Site: http://www.visible.com
Information Engineering Services Pty Ltd
PO Box 246, Hillarys Perth WA 6923 Australia
Phone: +61-8-9402-8300 Fax: +61-8-9402-8322
Web Site: http://www.ies.aust.com/
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