New, better Notations / new, better Methods?
Do we need new, updated, better notations to represent Business Processes, Business Decisions, other elements of a Business Architecture?
In my workshops, I show the following slide on notations for describing elements of an enterprise architecture.
The overview is not complete. Many of the included notations are standard notations of the "Object Management Group®". But other organizations such as "The Open Group®" issue standard notations too. In practice, proprietary and informal notations are used too.
Often we can choose from different notations to describe the same content:
- Business process models can be described with informal swimlane diagrams or event-driven process chains (EPK diagrams) or BPMN diagrams.
- We describe business decisions with DMN diagrams or with TDM models (TDM ... The Decision Model).
- We describe a vocabulary with the help of SBVR, textual descriptions or using ConML.
The selection of the notation depends on several criteria:
- How expressive is notation?
- Is notation supported by one (or more) tools?
- Can we exchange the created models? An advantage of The OMG standard notation: They defined an exchange format too.
- The beliefs and culture of the company. If we can choose from several notations, of course, our own preferences (and dislikes) also play a role not to be underestimated.
- It is important that the stakeholders/readers of our models accept the form of presentation.
- Is the notation used and supported by own methods and best practices?
The request for new or improved notations is often raised by business analysts and notation experts. Often the phases of the creation and use of the models are forgotten:
Formal standard notations are particularly interesting for the use, analysis, and maintenance of the models. But even there we must not forget that the recipients of our models are not notation experts. New model elements are only helpful if readers can grasp the meaning quickly and easily. We often restrict the use of the elements of a notation in a "style guide".
More interesting and important are methods for each phase. Unfortunately, the OMG avoids "methods" like the plague. Fortunately, we find many suggestions for this in the literature.