Team, have a question related to a reengineering model that I've used. The work I'm doing is proprietary, so I'm going to try to explain what I'm trying to do and then ask a couple of questions.

I have a Meta Model that is broken down into several horizontal swimlanes (Am using a EDPC to create the meta model, basically because it seems to give me the most flexibility). We're trying to build an "entry model" that is useful for executives that have been using a similar construct for many years.

Each of these swimlanes correlates with a "business system layer" definition we're using: business process, organization, application architecture, etc.

Playing off the "House" theme that ARIS uses, we're calling each of these horizontal lanes "Rooms". I'll use these three "Rooms" (Business Process, Organization, Application) to round out the description. We're describing these rooms as all the business elements that have to come together to provide value to a customer through a defined business process.

Within each of these rooms will either be what we're calling "Master Objects" (Organizational Objects, Architecture Objects, etc.) OR, we want to be able to group these Master Objects by dropping them in a another object (an activity or process object works), which we're calling a Library,  that is basically a "grouping" box which establishes a simple connection between the Master Objects and the Library.

We are "cloning" these Master Objects down into detail process maps and connecting them appropriate to the process flow element (typically an activity),  so that 1) updates can be made at the Meta Model Level and these updates will flow down into the detail maps and to 2) theorectically enhance analysis by leveraging these "closed loop relationships.

So here is what we're trying to do at 10,000 feet. . .

1. Use a Meta Model that has a Business Process with other Objects "mapped"/aligned to the Business Process. (Provides execs with a way to see, for example, how an application or an organization aligns with it's requisite process steps.)

2. We would create an assignment for a particular process step in the Meta Model to create a detailed process map.

3. We would "Connect" the Meta Model to the Detail maps by "Cloning" objects (a replicant) from the Meta Model into the process detail (for example an activity within a detailed process map that uses a particular application, the application would be "cloned"/replicated into the detail from the Meta Model and attached to the activity via a typical relationship line). [Cutting and pasteing is also faster and assures that the "inventory" of organizations and architecture objects are represented in in the detail maps by a visual check with the alignment on the Meta Map].

4. By assigning from the Major Process Steps and "Cloning" organizational and application objects into the detail of a particular process step, in theory, we would have a multi-layer closed set of models. The Major Process steps would be "connected" to the detail models by Assignment. The "Master Objects" would be connected to the process by cloning and attaching to where they are being utilized through an Activity. In theory, by making that connection at the detail level, the "cloned objects" (and hence the "Master Objects") are related to the process and to the Major Process steps by assignment - by definition a closed loop.

This structure came together, again, to support an engineering meta model that is already in use & with the thought that each object is like a database. If you can "connect"/relate these Objects the way I've described, that we might be able to do some interesting reporting. . .

For example: let's say that in the Architecture Room at the Meta Model Level, I have a Library called "Customer Facing Technology" to describe what applications have direct contact with the customer or with someone dealing with a customer. We would like to be able to do things such as select the " Customer Facing Technology" Library (which has connections to the all the applicaitons that have been placed in that library associated that are Customer Facing") and be able to easily report on for example, what organizational roles "touch" the application at the detailed process level for a couple of Meta Data Level Process Steps.

Using a database language, I can create a master database that mimics the Meta model, a series of small database that mimic the process level detail and a series of relationships that mimic what we've done by "cloning". I can run a report that mimics the report I described.

Given that ARIS is not a drawing tool, but a relational database with pictures, I should be able to do the same. Here come the questions . . .

Does establishing the relationships as I've described to get a "closed loop" multi-dimensional vidual database hold? Does it get me anything?

Is the reporting, by pointing and clicking on multiple Libraries or Libraries and objects or on multiple object types and then driving a report (ideally one that can be configured throught the report writer) doable?

Again, we're trying to create an environment that mimics something that is being used using a set of Visio drawings and a separate database environment (it works, but is kludgey) to answer business driven questions that need data to flow from the Meta Model across multiple detailed flows.

A more advanced report/query/analysis would be (given "years of experience" were established in a Master Role Object's parameters ), what is the required number of years experience in sales for different roles that touch different customer facing applications across all the project detail for the first and third major process steps in the Meta Data Model? I've got Architecture and Role Objects cloned down into the detail from the Meta Model. The detail maps have been assigned to each of the Major Process Steps on the Meta Model. To complete this, I would have a "Library" that included all the Role Objects at the Meta Model Level.

In theory, I would select (at the Meta Model Level): the "customer facing" Library to get all the releveant applicaitonst; the Library that contains all the roles; the first and third major steps. This would enable the particular relationships or Scope and then be able to query on role and years sales experience (both established parameters).

Comments/suggestions? Or did I totally confuse everyone?

by Sebastian Stein
Posted on Tue, 12/01/2009 - 14:48

Well, for my part, I'm totally confused... Seems you are trying to come up with a very individual enterprise architecture model, but not sure.

by René Weimar
Posted on Tue, 12/01/2009 - 15:00

Sounds to me as if the semantic relationships between objects play a big role here, and the question is whether ARIS supports a sophisticated way to query such relationships?

by Frank Hunnicutt, III Author
Posted on Tue, 12/01/2009 - 15:16


Again, we have a meta model, a commong business process framework used in several reengineering methodologies, that has a Process layer at the top, several other layers that represent layers of a "business system", like for example applications, organization. Each Process Steps in the Process Layer is assigned to detailed models. Objects in the business system layer are replicated into the detail models to create a relationship between the meta model objects for each layer and where the "supply" the activities in the detail layer.Some of the meta model objects have been placed in an object that creates a "supports" relationship, a combined view, if you would (a Library, picked up this term from one of the ARIS presentations on GRC).

The meta model provides a good visual overview of how the process steps align with the appropriate meta level detail for the business system layers (makes the meta model more tactically useful).

The "relationships" between the meta model and various detail models should, in theory, be easily to query/analyze. The meta model acts like a master database, with the meta model object relationships acting like db relationships to the various detail models. Wouldn't think this application of ARIS would be particularly difficult or unusual. There are other ways to accomplish this using other technologies (not ideal, but workable). If I can accomplish this using a database with some links to visio models (kludgey, but doable), I would hope that ARIS could handle this . . .


by René Weimar
Posted on Tue, 12/01/2009 - 17:28

Well - it is possible to aggregate processes and it sounds like what you are describing as process layers and aggregated views is very similar to process landscapes in ARIS. Also, ARIS follows an integrated approach when it comes to "objects" (the concept of the ARIS repository), meaning that you can reuse the very same objects in different kind of models and therefore can later track where they occur (I believe you are referring to this as replicating objects). I am however not sure about the grouping of objects but I have to say that this is not quite my area of expertise anyway, same goes for the question on how ARIS can support your particular framework - I'll leave it to an ARIS expert to answer these questions.

by Frank Hunnicutt, III Author
Posted on Tue, 12/01/2009 - 17:59

Rene, I'm familiar with ARIS nomenclature. A Process Landscape is a similar tool at a more conceptual level (at least the ones I've seen in ARIS documentation). The only difference being the objects that included in the horizontal rows. The "Grouping" is called a Library (Got it from ARIS Documentation on GRC where they Grouped Control Objects into a thing called a Library. The implication I took from the discussion is that the grouping was a relationship). I have tried to use what I know about the ARIS Suite (which is broad, not deep) to help a client. ARIs uses the term "replication" to describe "reuse" in some of their documentation, but yes, you've described it. "Cloning" seems to communicate the intent a bit better in this environment to differentiate between a definition object (what we're calling master object) and a occurrence object (which we're calling a clone).

The Meta Model "grouping" is accomplished by using objects such as "application grouping" to group applications or a process step object to group other items. Dropping the items creates a "is in support of".

Just to be clear, I've done some ad-hoc consulting for ARIS with a couple of US companies (referred by one of the Account Execs, who since has left the company).They were able to accomplish both the structure (which I'm able to accomplish in this company's configuration) and the reporting I was describing.

I have not been able to get hold of the contacts I had, but when I was helping those folks up with a problem similar to what this company is having, I failed to ask if they were able to achieve the reporting through "out of the box tools".

The companies I was working with both had xml and ARIS code folks in place. This company has no "custom coding" expertise, and I don't have it.

They have used ARIS basically as a "souped up" replacement for Visio, using Cogniviz for anything beyond that. I'm trying to accomplish two things: 1) create an environment where they will be able to use ARIS for more than drawing pictures that you can move between. 2) Give them a simple way to build models based on what they are used to doing that hopefully will enable them to grow into some of the modules.

To accomplish "1", I was trying to see if the "out of the box" reporting tools leveraged relationships between objects that were contained in different ARIS Maps that have been connected through assignment.

As an aside, I started with the ARIS House and the ARIS methodology from your guide by the same name. The reaction was like looking at a fresh fish that's ready for baking . . . Dead, glazed eyes.

The structure I've described fits the definition of a "closed loop" model. I've described the approach several years ago to Britta, but we didn't get much farther than "it sounds like it will work". Again, I've been using it consulting with other environments, but I'm afraid the "killer" for this company is the lack of internal "customization" for reports and macros in general. I'm trying to work around that with something that they understand. By the way, I can forward you a powerpoint that describes the relationships and the reporting capabiliteis desired. . .

Make sense?

By the way, thanks for the comments, you are absolutely zeroing in on what we're doing. . .

by René Weimar
Posted on Thu, 12/03/2009 - 11:10

We did have a couple of users that have asked for assistance for creating reports (search the community for "report" or head over to the ARIS Support group), have a look here. I guess if you are looking for concrete assistance you need to break it down further and be more specific. I don't think the question is whether it's doable or not.


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