5.2.1 From Fuzzy to Formal (F3)

F3 is a comprehensive framework for improving requirements acquisition and transformation into valid information systems specifications. The name "From Fuzzy to Formal" refers to the process of transforming potentially inconsistent and unclear (fuzzy) requirements into formal requirements appropriate for implementation of a computerized information system.

The main purpose of enterprise modeling in F3 is as a technique for developing understanding and for documentation of business aspects early in the requirements engineering phase in a more formal way than using natural language descriptions (Bubenko, 1993:78). Even if the original purpose of F3 enterprise modeling was as a basis for information systems development, the approach is claimed to be of more general applicability (Bubenko and Kirikova, 1994).

Figure 5.1: Interrelated submodels in F3 enterprise modeling (from Kirikova and Bubenko, 1994a)

Enterprise models in the F3 approach consist of five submodels, see figure 5.1. The presentation here is based on (Kirikova and Bubenko, 1994a):

The submodels are interlinked with relationships belonging to the overall enterprise model. Enterprise modeling is considered a domain-independent technique, i.e., there are no preferences concerning which type of work that can be modeled. The enterprise modeling process is presented as unstructured and highly iterative. Within the framework, both an overall method and numerous guidelines, driving questions and rules of thumb are provided for practical accomplishment of enterprise modeling (Kirikova and Bubenko, 1994b):
"The process of Enterprise Modelling does not follow some prescribed sequence of activities. However, guide-lines exist for different modelling situations."
Figure 5.2 provides an overview of the modeling process. Before entering the enterprise modeling context, there are a number of preconditions that must be satisfied, generally related to organization and project management. Once the EM context is entered, modeling is seen as consisting of modeling actions and management actions, depending on particular situations that the project team may encounter. Other modeling contexts are also entered in an iterative manner.
Figure 5.2: An outline of the F3 Enterprise Modelling process and its contexts
(F3, 1994:124)

Guidelines for what to do in each context are provided in terms of structured if-then rules that first describe a certain situation that the modelers may be in and perceive as problematic, and then suggest a series of actions to help solve or escape the given situation. Driving questions are also posed depending on context. The F3 reference manual (F3, 1994) provides more details on the modeling process.

When in the Objectives Modeling context, some driving questions that may be used include (F3, 1994:153)

The worldview underlying the approach is not explicitly stated, but there is evidence of both constructivistic and objectivistic character. The focus on modeling process as a group activity is an indication of a constructivist view, and they recognize that
"the things that are being modelled are issues which often are neither right nor wrong. They are people's perceptions of some reality."
On the other hand, they have developed an extensive and detailed language for the modelers to use. In this way, they predefine the users language, assuming it to be appropriate in every situation. Predefining a language implies restriction of the reality construction process. Still, the approach is assessed as constructivistic, also based on the deliberations made by Bubenko (1993) concerning how requirements capture actually is requirements construction.