Enhancement of 'Upstream' Software Development Methods
Submitting InstitutionBournemouth University
Unit of AssessmentGeneral Engineering
Summary Impact TypeTechnological
Research Subject Area(s)
Information and Computing Sciences: Computer Software, Information Systems
Summary of the impact
BU's software engineering research has focused on the improvement of
software development methods with a particular emphasis on the `upstream'
or requirements phases. The benefits include improved development
processes as well as considerable financial savings, as evidenced in this
case study. The research has been used locally in projects with medium
sized enterprises (SME's) and in collaboration with international partners
including National ICT Australia (NICTA) to enhance business and IT
alignment (Australia and Japan); the European Commission funded VIsualise
all moDel drivEn programming (VIDE) project to impact commercial
tools (France and Germany); and with Bosch Automotive (Germany) to enhance
model driven development.
BU research in software engineering methods has focussed on what are
typically regarded as requirements phases. The consistent theme within
this work has been the need to provide models or approaches, which are
accessible to users, whilst also allowing rigour of analysis.
These ideas have been manifested in a variety of our modelling
approaches. From 1997-2000 research focused on process models that were
mapped to formal and enactable notations (P1), to enhance understanding of
client business processes. This work evolved to provide Business and IT
alignment methods described in P2 and P3. These concepts were then
incorporated into model driven approaches and tools through BU's
involvement with the European funded VIDE project.
Latterly, researchers have continued to enhance software engineering
methods using process approaches within the requirements phase of model
driven methods (P5). This has provided improved merging for distributed
model driven development through a PhD funded by Bosch (P6), (completed in
2012) and application of software engineering expertise to enhance methods
for SMEs (e.g.Morning Data).
The following outlines specific 'upstream' software engineering research
output from BU which has been applied to these projects.
Accessibility of Process Models and Process Modelling Tools:
This involves building accessible tool-sets that take account of their
varied audiences. This can be seen in early work by Phalp (BU 1997 to
present) (P1), which describes how 'user-facing' process models can be
mapped through families of models, to allow rigorous analysis of process
issues, whilst still allowing end users to validate notations which are
accessible to them.
Business and IT Alignment: Work on mapping through families of
models was revised when Phalp and PhD student Cox (completion 2002)
incorporated problem frames. These ideas were presented at conferences
in 2003, including ProSim (International Workshop on Software Process
Simulation Modelling at ICSE 2003) and REFSQ (Working Conference on
Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality). Cox
subsequently took these ideas to NICTA and the collaboration was
continued with journal papers on the extended methods (P2 and P3). These
papers were widely publicised.
Enhancing Model Driven Methods and Tools: Later work from 2005
onwards was driven by the need to provide notations and tools that were
accessible to a range of stakeholders, including non-IT specialists.
This work drew on BU specification tools expertise (P4) and was key to
BU's successful contribution to the VIDE project. This work has
continued in the group, with a PhD completion by Fouad (2011) and
further published outputs describing how requirements should be
incorporated fully within the initial, or Computationally Independent
Modelling (CIM), phase of model driven development (P5).
In parallel, researchers have addressed other practical development
issues, notably work at Bosch on how merging of models can be enhanced
within the context of distributed software development (P6), again
suggesting mechanisms and providing prototype tools.
References to the research
P1. Phalp, K.T. (1998). The CAP Framework for Business Process
Modelling. Information and Software Technology, 40(13), 731-744.
P2. Bleistein, S., Cox, K., Verner, J. and Phalp, K. (2006).
B-SCP: a requirements analysis framework for validating strategic
alignment of organizational IT based on strategy, context, and process. Information
and Software Technology, 48(9), 846-868. DOI:
P3. Cox, K., Phalp, K., Bleistein, S. and Verner, J. (2005).
Deriving Requirements from Process Models via the Problem Frames Approach.
Information and Software Technology, 47(5), 319-337. Available
[accessed 20 November 2013].
P4. Kanyaru, J.M. and Phalp, K. (2009). Validating software
requirements with enactable use case descriptions. Requirements
Engineering Journal, 14(1), 1-14. DOI: 10.1007/s00766-008-0070-8.
P5. Fouad, A., Phalp, K., Kanyaru, J.M. and Jeary, S. (2011).
Embedding Requirements within the Model Driven Architecture. Software
Quality Journal, 19(2), 411-430. DOI: 10.1007/s11219-010-9122-7.
P6. Grimm, F., Phalp, K. and Vincent, J. (2008). Enabling
multi-stakeholder cooperative modelling in automotive software
development and implications for model driven software development.
First International Workshop on Business Support and MDA (MDABIZ) — a
Tools 2008 Workshop, Zurich, July 2008.
Details of the impact
BU's research in enhancing software engineering methods and tools has
been applied in a range of contexts across the world. Much of the
international impact was delivered through collaboration, including
through the VIDE project, with NICTA, and with Bosch, but also on a local
scale through BU's knowledge transfer partnerships (KTPs).
VIDE project: Developing a model-driven tool set for organisations
across the globe
VIDE was a European Commission funded project that began in 2005. It
brought together ten institutions and industry partners from five European
countries. The project aim was to develop an enhanced model driven
BU joined the project team because of their researcher's extensive
'upstream' expertise. Without this background, BU would not have gained
entry to the consortium, nor had the successful bid, nor been a successful
The report describes BU's major strength as "synthesising work from
different communities in order to provide effective and innovative
approaches to the wider software systems development context." The report
goes on to state: "This integration of systems methods and models with
novel computational approaches provides solutions to problems that are
intractable using traditional or single paradigm methods" (R1, p.44-5).
Subsequently BU's research informed the VIDE project on various levels,
- The process and specification of tools.
- General requirements and Business and IT and Alignment, as described
In the model driven context BU provided an accessible tool-set, which
allowed greater involvement of stakeholders in the CIM phase of model
driven development. These ideas also facilitated developments by VIDE's
collaborating industrial partners. These developments are evidenced in the
VIDE Dissemination and Exploitation Deliverable report (R1).
Softeam, a software tools vendor, based in Paris, has
subsidiaries in Saint Quentin en Yvelines, Rennes, Nantes and Sophia
Antipolis. The company used code generation capabilities introduced during
VIDE to add capability to their tool 'Objecteering'. They have now created
a new modelling tool, Modelio, which uses the results of the VIDE project
in its development. Modelio has many advantages over the tool that it
replaces, including the superior usability that was an anticipated impact
of the VIDE work. The analysis on VIDE's impact on Softeam concludes: "It
is expected that the number of code generator licenses will increase
between 1% and 8% in 2009" (R1, p.57).
Altec are a major enterprise resource planning (ERP) producer in
Greece. Altec used the VIDE toolkit as an add-on to their existing ONAR
tool-set (Ontologies based ENterprise Application IntegRation) (R2, p.60).
The report states: "ALTEC has an exploitation strategy which features
further investigation of the pre-CIM and CIM level tools provided by BU
and iWi which provide a natural business domain entry level to their
tooling." (R1. P42).
Altec's sales forecast for the relevant revenue streams in a 5-year
period were calculated with a 14% annual growth (R2, p.60). The company
said: "All our expectations from VIDE project ... still hold ... ONAR is
now in its full commercial phase ... and is offered on the cloud for our
customers - mainly companies using our ERP systems and also public sector
authorities" (R2, p.42).
NICTA — Australia and Japan
The Business and IT Alignment methods, which fed into VIDE, were directly
rolled out via NICTA consultancy work in Australia and Japan. These
alignment methods were used extensively by NICTA for internal projects and
for consultancy and were used by a wide range of commercial organisations
within Australia and Japan. A clear indicator of the success of these
approaches was the significant financial savings that were claimed as a
result of their use (R3).
Bosch automotive: Model merging in distributed model driven
Bosch automotive needed to develop models in parallel, as part of a
software product line suite, across two sites. The unified modelling
language models (UML) are revised at different sites, and variants need to
be merged. BU researchers observed that existing approaches to merging
preserved syntax often lost meaning to the modeller. This was a critical
issue as the engineers used layout to convey meaning in a number of
distinct ways, and that these tactics were outside the normal unified
modelling language (UML) rules.
As a solution researchers invented a novel, semi-automatic model merge,
which preserved layout choices, thereby preserving meaning for the
modeller. A prototype tool was built and used by the development team, who
were extremely supportive. One of Bosch's Senior Engineers praised the
graphical layout and dynamic adjustment of the model tree view's column
width, as well as usability of the tool. These comments are included in
the PhD thesis (R4 and R5).
Software engineering with small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs)
Researchers have worked on six knowledge transfer partnerships (KTP) to
conduct requirements engineering for software systems organisations. A
specific example is the KTP with Morning Data Ltd, which took place
between 2009 and 2012.
Morning Data Ltd is a leading supplier of world-class software and
service solutions for the global insurance industry. The project centred
on software maintenance and evolution with an emphasis on introducing
rigorous software engineering methods.
Through this project the BU research team used their 'upstream' expertise
to discover and document requirements, ensuring that the new generation of
product aligned with Morning Data's business strategy and would meet the
needs of their clients.
The company identified the project as having been of vital strategic
importance and quantified financial gains, stating in their report to the
Technology Strategy Board (TSB) that: "Through the meetings with the
University we learnt and adopted a new development process and methodology
which allowed us to drastically improve the quality of the software we
were producing." They also stated a direct projected increase in turnover
of £200K and an increase in pre-tax profit from £36k to £175k (R6 and R7).
In a public blog, the Development Director at Morning Data states: "Over
the duration of the project we have learnt so much and introduced so many
valuable new tools to our development team — we simply would not be
working the way we are now without having had the involvement and the
knowledge of the staff at BU." (R8).
The project was rated as very good by the TSB and added to the short list
from which KTP case studies will be developed as an example of best
This measurable financial gain demonstrated through the Morning Data
project is an example of how BU's research into process modelling;
business and IT alignment and enhancing model driven methods can be
applied to deliver substantial financial savings.
Sources to corroborate the impact
R1. VIDE Dissemination and Exploitation Deliverable 10.2
(available on request).
R2. Formerly Agile Technologies and IT Innovation, Research
Programmes Division, ALTEC Software S.A. (was Altec PI for the project).
Contact details available.
R3. Former Director of Promise Point Boutique and former NICTA
researcher. Contact details available.
R4. PhD thesis, completed 2012, describes the work with Bosch, and
the development of merging methods and prototype tool (available on
R5. Former BU PhD student, now a Lecturer at University of
Zwickau, Germany. Contact details available.
R6. Final KTP Report on Morning Data to TSB (available on
R7. Development Director at Morning Data. Contact details
R8. Public blog from KTP Development Manager on the Experience of
R9. Feedback from TSB on Morning Data project (available on