Archimate Workshop

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Tuesday, 19 May at Bolton University

Purpose

A one day workshop to learn more about the use of the Archimate modelling language for curriculum design processes. The event was intended to help JISC Curriculum Design projects decide about curriculum design process modelling approaches. It will do this by giving a taster of what it is like to use the Archimate language for this and similar purposes, and by looking at how such models can be shared.

Notes

The workshop kicked off with a good introduction(pdf document) on the use of Archimate, a relatively new modelling language in the world of Enterprise. We discussed the use of the language in the Enterprise Architecture pilot projects and its possible utility in the curriculum design projects. The main aim of the Enterprise Architecture projects was to evaluate Enterprise Architecture as a practice and as an approach. It also includes the opportunity to learn more about the roughly six year old Archimate language and to see how useful this language is in practice. We had four presentations two in the morning session and two in the afternoon one.

The first session was from Sara Rioux, of Liverpool John Moores University. They are in the process of replacing the Peoplesoft version of the Oracle student system to Campus Solutions. As a part of the transition, a gap analysis was done that prompted the institution to re–consider which Enterprise Architecture tools and techniques to use. The tool that Liverpool John Moores chose to do the Archimate modelling is Bizzdesign Architect. The tool was liked for its strengths in change management and the dynamic manipulation of entities that it allows. With respect to the use of Archimate, the team felt that the advantages of the language for communication purposes were that it:


The second presentation was from Roehampton University(powerpoint presentation). They named their evaluation project CAIRO. The presentation about the CAIRO project aimed to answer questions such as, why this large scale project? , what impact has it got on the university? and is it appropriate to look at the modelling tool and language in this project? The background to the project involves a three part evaluation of TOGAF, Archimate and Bizz Design Architect. These three aspects can be used independently of each other, but currently the team is focused on the evaluation of Archimate. They are mainly using at the service level, but are looking at how the language capabilities match their needs. The needs include the visualisation of

After some trial and error, they feel that Archimate has matched those needs. They also have set up a baseline and target level for their Enterprise Architecture to cross check the work done against agreed standards. In order to get to that stage, they have employed three Business Analysts to help meet the deadlines. Finally, the team are now drawing preliminary diagrams using the Open Group Architecture Framework’s Architecture Development Method (TOGAF- ADM). In order to make sure that everyone in the team models the organisation in the same way, an Archimate meta model was developed. The team have just refined and published this meta model, which peaked the interest of other participants of the workshop. If more Archimate modellers in the UK F/HE use the same metamodel, the comparability of their work would improve.

Alan Paull took over the first afternoon session, Archimate at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)(powerpoint presentation). The overview includes the Curriculum Design Supporting Responsive Curricula (SRC)’s workflow. This flow concerns the links between Employer/professional bodies, student and the course. The aim of the SRC project is to establish a clear understanding of that workflow, by building a clear and agreed models of the flow as it is at the moment and then to establish and review a model of a future flow. They used the COVARM model as their baseline and worked on it because MMU was one of the four institutions that tested the COVARM project’s model driven approach. They found, however, that the diagrams were out of date, and many stakeholder found the BPMN too difficult to follow. For those reasons, the Archimate language was trialled instead. It was found that Archimate was useful in establishing a common understanding of the curriculum design process, in both ‘as is’ and future ‘to be‘ versions.

The last presentation focused on the JISC Innovation Base(powerpoint presentation), a new tool to share architecture, process or software models. The innovation base is explicitly designed to accommodate a variety of modeling languages, as was illustrated by simple diagram from COVARM model was drawn using Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN), being shown in Unified Modeling Language (UML) and Archimate as well. The interactive session led us answer questions like whether notation matters? A better understanding of the Innovation Base was also given through a good demonstration of how it works and how projects can submit their outputs to it. The innovation base will go live later this year.

Wilbert finally rounded up the workshop by posing questions like where are we planning to move from this stage? How much effort is required to introduce Archimate modelling and what are the benefits? What can we do to improve modeling practice further?

On the whole, both the Enterprise Architecture projects well as those Curriculum Design projects that have already adopted an Archimate modeling approach would value another workshop or masterclass, and an opportunity to share experience and practice. CETIS will therefore look to organise such an event on a semi-annual basis.

In terms of cost-benefit, adopting a modeling approach for those projects that didn’t already use it, opinions differed. Some felt that the investment in software and skills acquisition were only worth it if an institution took the strategic decision to adopt a modeling approach. Others felt that a lightweight, iterative use of Archimate, perhaps using common drawing tools such as Visio during the trial stage, was a good first step. Yet others thought that modeling was worth doing only with considerable investment in tools and skills right at the beginning.

In all, though it was a good one day workshop to learn more about the use of the Archimate modeling language for curriculum design process, and it helped JISC curriculum Design projects decide about curriculum design process modeling approaches they would use.