An integrated data model can connect the applications, functions, and disciplines of a company. It can be a foundation for service oriented architectures, business process automation, and master data management. The process towards establishing an integrated model can be long and winding. While data modeling methodologies are suitable for documenting the end result of this process, they may hinder more than facilitate its progress. In particular, prematurely introducing a precise common representation, may alientate groups of stakeholders, leading to a “common” model with a bias towards a few perspectives. An approach more adjusted to group dynamics and social learning is needed. Physical data models and logical information models should be complemented by conceptual knowledge models. This post presents some of the challenges involved, while a later post outlines a knowledge architecture approach to integrating data models. Read the rest of this entry »

Computer support to Product Design and Life-Cycle Management is currently dominated by PLM systems, and industry is not very happy with the support provided. Industrial design methodologies and PLM systems create many disjoint, pre-typed product structures. This approach belongs to the era of communicating product knowledge as engineering drawings. In this post, we discuss the need for replacing these static structures by a single federated product model, from which any structure or aspect can be derived.  The federated product model is managed as a family of configurable system and component models, as part of an active knowledge architecture (AKA). With the advent of AKA we see completely new approaches, concepts, operational methodologies, visual modeling methods, enterprise architectures and design solutions emerging. Read the rest of this entry »

Innovative design is the most important competitive factor for global engineering and manufacturing. Critical challenges include cutting lead times for new products, increasing stakeholder involvement, facilitating life-cycle knowledge sharing, service provisioning, and support. Current IT solutions for product lifecycle management fail to meet these challenges because they are built to perform routine information processing, rather than support agile creative work.

Active knowledge modeling is a family of methodologies that address this situation, utilizing model-driven application platforms. This post presents an overview of different methodologies applied to implement pragmatic and powerful design platforms, by building and utilizing active knowledge architectures (AKA).

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My first impression of Microsoft Oslo and the M modeling language was quite positive. In particular, their approach seemed to take better care of instances than e.g. UML does, and I applauded the use of extents (instance collections) rather than types to represent repository database tables.

Upon closer examination, however, some doubts appeared. The syntax seems unneccesarily complex, and the repository and M representations goes out of synch with regard to such basic functions as subtyping and the identity of the instances. This post proposes some adjustments to simplify M and better align the visual, textual and repository representations of Oslo.   Read the rest of this entry »

Several languages have been proposed for business process modelling. Though most of them follow the conventional representation of processes as a series of steps, they emphasize different aspects of processes and related structures, such as organizations, products, and data. Consequently, they are suited for different kinds of processes. Even if you are determined to use a particular technique, knowledge of alternative approaches can still guide the modelling, by surfacing complementary points of view. In addition to the common transformational process models, this post discusses block structured languages, storytelling, and process modeling languages that are hierarchical, flow-oriented, role-oriented, communication-oriented, declarative, goal-oriented, timelines, product and document state machines etc. Read the rest of this entry »