10 years, 2 months ago

Modeling the MDM Blueprint – Part IV

In part II and III of this series we discussed the Common Information and Canonical Models. Because MDM is a business project we need to establish of a common set of models that can be referenced independent of the technical infrastructure or patterns we plan on using. Now it is time to introduce the Operating […]

10 years, 2 months ago

Modeling the MDM Blueprint – Part III

In part II of this series we discussed the Common Information Model. Because MDM is a business project we need to establish of a common set of models that can be referenced independent of the technical infrastructure or patterns we plan on using. The essential elements should include: – Common Information Model – Canonical Model […]

10 years, 2 months ago

Modeling the MDM Blueprint – Part II

In part I of this series we discussed what essential elements should be included in a MDM blueprint. The important thing to remember is the MDM is a business project that requires establishing of a common set of models that can be referenced independent of the technical infrastructure or patterns you plan on using. The blueprint […]

10 years, 2 months ago

Inappropriately comparing Building Architecture and Software Architecture

Mike Walker wrote a great little article describing that it is largely inappropriate to compare Software Architecture and Building Architecture professions – see here. I think Mike has a great point that the two types of architecture disciplines are so different that it’s hard to rationally compare the two.

Mike’s blog reminded me my wife’s comments on article titled “If building architects had to work like IT architects” written a couple of years ago. By the way, my wife is a commercial and residential Building Architect. Anyway, in that article, Katheryn felt it inappropriately assumed similarities of Software Architecture and Building Architecture to the point she felt compelled to comment and help explain that the article’s author is probably not too knowledgeable of the Building Architecture profession.

Note: Although I feel it is largely inappropriate to compare the two professions, I wish we could. Unfortunately, as Mike points out, Software Architecture is just way too immature a profession at the moment.

Here’s a repost of my wife’s comments to the “If building architects had to work like IT architects” article. Katheryn Morgan wrote:

“The article is misleading because your IT projects are better related to a commercial non- personal project. Your clients would be equivalent to a developer not an individual looking for a personal residence. It can be done different ways, but this way is very common:

Initial Design

If the client is really unsure of what he wants and only has a vague idea and he wants to see some ideas first then he is paying for the head designer’s experience. The team is made up of different experienced architects and workers. Each person’s time is charged to the client at a different rate. Just like consulting, we have to assign our time to each project. The head designer would charge more per hour than the person assigned to draw it up. The more re-draws based on the clients wishy-washy-ness the more money they are being charged. The client is charged for mileage for site visitations, city department visits etc. Once a design has been agreed on (the project can easily be, and often does get nixed because the client has not acquired the site for the project or the investors have backed out or there are problems with the city allowing such project etc. You can convert any of these problems into your IT world I’m sure) then there is a next phase of costs.

Documentation Phase

The client will be charged by how many sheets of documentation is required for the project to go to a contractor to get sufficient bids for cost of construction. The lead architect by experience should know how many sheets would be required based on the size of the project. The client is also charged for all printing and mailing costs.

Construction Documentation Bidding

The documents are sent to several prospective contractors chosen by the architects and sometime by the clients, as they have probably worked with some before and others chosen because of their direct experience with this particular type of project. The builders bid this project on the hopes they will receive the project and no money is charged by them. The winner is the one who comes back with the best realistic construction cost and can generally show a realistic construction time line with milestones that they are held accountable for and they receive partial payments as long as those milestones are reached. There can also be a bonus incentive for them to finish on time (which rarely happens). This process is kept in strict confidence and the architect never reveals to the other builders what the others bid was.


Here is a key point different to your world: the designers and the constructors (builders) are different entities. The architect’s role here is to see to the client’s BEST interest. the architects answers RFI’s and does site visits to ensure the vision of the project is coming to fruition. The architect answers requests for payment by checking if the milestones have been met, reporting progress to the clients and if the client is satisfied he will approve payment, and the architect will pay the builder.
At the end of the project the architect does a walk thru with the client and builder and any things that need fixing are written and given to the builder. He has to finish these last things before a certificate of occupancy is issued and the builder is given his last payment and any incentive bonus. The architect is also in charge of getting all permits from the city and any official requirements so the client can easily transition.”

10 years, 4 months ago

Why Getting Past “But…” is Important

You’ve probably read Getting to Yes and heard of Getting Past No, so why Getting Past “But”? Well, because “but…” is insidious, making it harder to get past than an outright “no.” The person who says “yes, but…” is ostensibly aligning with you. Ostensibly agreeing but for this teensy caveat—this objection that is a showstopper! […]

10 years, 5 months ago

Scaling Agile with VAP: Getting Past “But…”

Our Getting Past “But…” executive report covers two essential areas:

innovation, the circles of innovation model, the innovation process, and what all this means for architects.

scaling agile development projects with VAP (emphasizing just enough design upfront or JEDUF).

These map roughly to the first and second halves of the report, though we encourage those interested […]

10 years, 6 months ago

Video of eXploratory Modelling at ESUG2008 available

Today James Robertson published his video of my talk on eXploratory Modelling at ESUG2008: http://www.cincomsmalltalk.com/blog/blogView?showComments=true&printTitle=eXploratory_Modeling_at_ESUG_2008&entry=3404625062 Have fun watching it, and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or if any part of the presentation was unintelligible because of the noise or such.The presentation was done without a microphone, and I guess […]

10 years, 6 months ago

Meet WALL•S!

Though not called WALL•S by Michael Haupt who posted this blog, the little NXT robot in the picture immediately reminded me of WALL•E. So meet WALL•S, the first robot that actually speaks and understands Smalltalk! Some of you may know that Smalltalk originally was quite popular in the embedded world. Tektronix for example ran Smalltalk […]

10 years, 8 months ago

Smalltalk on bare metal blog

Nice blog by Cees de Groot about the SqueakNOS project that has been revitalised. This project has my special interest since it clearly demonstrates some features of Smalltalk in the sense of it’s completeness. We are not talking programming language. We are talking system.

10 years, 9 months ago

Achieving Model Traceability: Finding the Traceability Critical Path

We all agree now that Adoption is key for Enterprise Architects. And the trick to adoption is resonating with those that make change and influence them to make the change that is best for the enterprise. In a previous blog post, I introduced the Solution Model concept. In this post, I want to talk about the concept of the Traceability Critical Path, which is the portion of the Solution Model necessary to trace from Strategy to Code.

Support for Solution Architects is good

As Solution Architects, we have the ability to understand a business problem and be able to derive a software solution to meet the business problem. We have lots of process tools to help us such as software development lifecycles like Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF), Extreme Programming (XP), Rational Unified Process (RUP) to describe who does what and when. We have methods such as Object-oriented Design (OOD) and Attribute-based Design (ADD) to help use design software components. We have vibrant software engineering organizations and user groups like IEEE, OASIS and Software Engineering Institute (SEI) to leverage. We have knowledge bases to leverage such as the Software Engineering Book of Knowledge (SWEBOK). We have system design tools such as Visual Studio to design, develop and deploy software. Pretty good.

Support for Enterprise Architects is good

As Enterprise Architects, we have the ability to understand all of our business organizations and derive IT architecture for the entire enterprise. We have lots of tools to help us such as Enterprise Architecture Frameworks (EAF) like Gartner’s EAF, TOGAF, Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEAF). We have industry organizations and user groups to leverage such as ISACA/COBiT, ITIL and TMForum. We have methods to identify and focus on individual business pain points like MSBA’s Business Capability Analysis and Six Sigma/Lean to avoid analysis paralysis. We have tools to help manage enterprise information such as business processes, project and application portfolios from Microsoft, Troux, MetaStorm and Sparx Systems.

We need a way to connect Enterprise Architecture to Solution Architecture

So, here’s the problem, the outputs of all the tools and methods need to be connected so that we can trace from “strategy to code”. You may have heard other catch phrases trying to say the same thing such as “connect planning and implementation”, “deliver to the plan” or the phrase “help an organization determine the right things to do and ensure that project teams do them right”. Isn’t it funny how there are so many catch phrases out there trying to describe the concept of Model Traceability?

Model Traceability connects Enterprise Architecture and Solution Architecture

My team thinks that Model Traceability is very important and we have invested in this area to help us make sense of all the tools and methods out there in an effort to streamline what’s important so that we can honestly and justifiably say we know what are the right things to do and we can trace them to project teams and show how they are doing them right. During this effort, we have discovered some very interesting things.

We evaluate the tools and methods and identify what concepts they produce or mange. We then evaluate these concepts and determine what value they bring to their stakeholders; concepts such as Business Strategy, Business Capability, Use Case, Business Process Activity, Application Interface, System, Code, Test Case. We then determine how they are associated to each other. For example, A Business Process composes Business Process Activities. Automated Business Process Activities use Applications.

Without the metamodel, we might have a mess like the diagram below illustrates.


Disclaimer Note: The diagram above is not representative of my team’s metamodel in order protect Microsoft IP. I deliberately used inappropriate elements, removed several elements, removed all associations between the elements, and spatially organized the elements somewhat randomly.

There are lots of concepts involved, we need the Traceability Critical Path to understand the explicit connection

Our goal is to get to what we are calling the Traceability Critical Path. The Traceability Critical Path (TCP) is the set of lowest-level elements in the metamodel that have an explicit association with each other that are necessary to trace from Strategy to Code. [I know, bad acronym choice. We might later rename it to avoid confusion.] Identifying the TCP elements and how they relate is the goal of this work. Then, connecting the rest of the elements to the TCP elements to understand how they relate.

Along the journey of defining the TCP, we discovered some interesting characteristics of the metamodel elements. We found it useful to differentiate between element types. Here are some examples:

  • Traceability Critical Path elements. Elements that have a direct or concrete relationship from planning activities
  • Enabling elements. Elements are really only methods or tools to derive critical elements.
  • Temporal elements. Elements that act as placeholders for required elements but are needed at a later time in a process.
  • Discipline-specific elements. Elements that are useful only to certain disciplines but are somewhat meaningless to others.
  • Associations elements. Elements that describe how elements are related/associated with each other.

We had some interesting observations made along the way worth sharing

Along our journey we made a few interesting observations that maybe, at some point, I’ll dig into later because each could take a while to explain. But for now, I’ll just jot them down to share:

1. Complimentary Information Model. In addition to the metamodel, we created an information model to describe the concepts the elements represent because there are times when identifying individual elements, the resulting element’s names don’t easily resemble the original concept being evaluated and causes a bit of confusion. We required an information model to describe aggregations, compositions, generalizations and subtypes to keep the metamodel meaningful by the different audiences.

2. Enabling and Temporal Elements and Abstraction relationship. We observed during the exercise of building our metamodel that the relationship between the Enabling Elements and degree of abstraction. We noticed that many of the Enabling and the majority of the Temporal elements tend to exist at higher abstractions and the TCP elements tend to fall in the lower abstraction. This trend is illustrated in the graph below.


3. Gaps in enterprise planning concepts. When analyzing the trend data, we found gaps in our scatter graph. We are wondering how to explain this and what to do with this observation, but we are leaning to spend a bit of time to apply some engineering rigor and define enterprise planning concepts in more detail. The types of concepts are those that describe Business Strategy and Business Model as examples.


Summary – The TCP brings very interesting benefits

Having the metamodel and clear identification of the TCP within it, we get a lot of benefits such as:

  1. Objectivity. Ability to put the tools, methods and concepts from several disciplines into perspective and help us get to the crux of their value proposition to enabling elements in the TCP.
  2. Impact Analysis. Ability to traverse the model and do Impact Analysis from any element of concern. For example, one can identify which applications are involved to enable Scenarios. Or, one could identify which System Features impact Customers or Business Partner and so on.
  3. Role Clarity. Ability to understand the disciplines and roles that typically create elements fit into the planning and implementation activities.

I would like to share our metamodel, complete with the TCP, as well as the process used to build it. But, to be fair, this is a team effort and I want to give credit where credit is due as well as respect the fact that this is the property of Microsoft that I don’t have approval to publish yet. If you’d like to see our metamodel, let me know and I’ll bring your request to my team.

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