Model-Driven Engineering for Business Processes

The development of software applications can be an arduous task. However, applications are increasingly indispensable in our daily lives, especially for improving and succeeding business. One promising approach, Model-Driven Engineering, has emerged to allow the development of applications based on the definition of models more akin to the problem domain than to the implementation domain, alleviating the complexity of platforms. In this blog, we discuss Business Process Modelling, a field which already supports the generation of whole applications based on the definition of the models of your business processes.
Over the past six decades, software researchers and developers have been creating abstractions that help them to program in terms of their design intent rather than constrained by the underlying computing environment—for example, CPU, memory, and network devices—abstracting them away from the complexities of these environments.

Advances in these languages and platforms during the past three decades have raised the level of software abstractions available to developers. However, although these languages and platforms raised the level of abstraction, they still had a distinct computing-oriented focus: they provided abstractions of the solution space rather than abstractions of the problem space.

Model-Driven Engineering (MDE) has emerged as a promising approach to address the inability of third-generation languages to (a) express domain concepts effectively and (b) alleviate the complexity of platforms. MDE advocates the use of models as first class entities throughout the software engineering life cycle. These models are specified in languages that tend to support higher-level abstractions than general-purpose modeling languages, and are in closer relation to the problem domain than to the implementation domain, allowing modelers to perceive themselves as working directly with domain concepts. Furthermore, in MDE, these models are not to be used as mere documentation, but key artifacts from which the whole system can be derived and implemented.

Enterprise Modeling deals with the process of understanding an enterprise business and improving its performance through the creation of enterprise models. This includes the modelling of the relevant business domain, business processes, and information technology. Many Enterprise Modeling techniques have emerged throughout the years, presenting different views of the enterprise and offering a wide variety of possibilities for designing, improving, re-structuring, and automating all or parts of the business in question.

Of particular interest is Business Process Modelling, since this field already possesses a standard language for the definition of the models (the Business Process Model and Notation, BPMN, which is currently in its second version) and several tools that, following the principles of Model Driven Engineering, allow the management of the business processes and workflows and also the complete generation of a whole web application from the models, drastically reducing the cost of the application development (compared to the development of an application from scratch).

Some other benefits of this approach follows:

  • System integration: Big corporations normally have different systems which are hardly connected among them. BPMN or BPM systems allows their connection and an ability to keep track of the whole process.
  • Reporting and Analysis: Every single process can be monitored and the different data analysed, to gather useful information concerning bottleneck identification, worker performance, etc., thus easing the task of making important decisions for the improvement of the business.
  • Adaptation: Furthermore, if the way a business works changes, supporting models can be changed, and the application built from these changes will change accordingly, with no need to rebuild the application, thus drastically reducing the costs of software development.

All these advantages (and more) have made business process modelling and management a growing market in several industries such as Financial Services, Government, Manufacturing, Technology) and this has been adopted by large companies such as Disney channel, Televisa, Ericsson, Orange…

Do you want to be a part of it? Business Process Modelling is just one of the interesting subjects into which you can delve here at MIUC. If you would like to have more information, please watch our video on Business Process Modelling by clicking on the following link:

Eduardo Rivera

*Photo from boniatosoft.com

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