5.2.2 The Enterprise framework

The Enterprise project is a UK initiative incorporating both academic and industrial partners. The main aim of the project is to (Fraser, 1994:3)
"provide a method and computer toolset which will help capture aspects of a business and analyse these to identify and compare options for meeting the business requirements."
The Enterprise notion of enterprise modeling requires taking a "total systems" approach, i.e., integrating several aspects of the business in one model. The purposes of modeling are: Investigating the basis for the Enterprise project, there is a clear disposition towards knowledge based approaches. This is evident from their state-of-the-art survey (Enter-prise, 1994a-e), including KE frameworks such as CommonKADS (de Hoog et al., 1994). A high-level view of the enterprise toolset architecture is provided in figure 5.3.
Figure 5.3: High-level view of the enterprise toolset (Fraser, 1994:14)

A characteristic feature of the Enterprise framework is the use of detailed ontologies (Uschold et al., 1995) to define elements of a generic enterprise. The ontology prescribes the possible elements of the enterprise, and hence restricts model contents. The purposes of ontologies in enterprise modeling are, according to Fraser (1994:11), easier reuse of enterprise models, improved communication based on a common understanding of model concepts, translation of semantics between various lexicons, elimination of redundancies, and resolving unnecessary or missing content.

The Enterprise project have developed a method for how to construct ontologies (Uschold et al., 1995; Uschold and Gruninger, 1996), but there is a striking lack of references to enterprise modeling method. How to proceed in practical modeling is not discussed anywhere in the literature found on the project (except for some general approaches in their state-of-the-art survey).

Their ontological and epistemological assumptions are not discussed explicitly, but indications of a traditional, objectivistic worldview exist. Firstly, recurrent use of the phrase

"capture [...] of all relevant aspects of an enterprise"
indicates that all relevant aspects of the enterprise is "out there". Secondly, they propose the same enterprise models for both human understanding and enactment, hence neglecting the specific needs of both humans and computers concerning "comprehension" of models. Thirdly, the lack of an enterprise modeling method may be interpreted as not seeing the modeling process as problematic. Finally, predefining detailed ontologies of the enterprise as such implies a fixed view of what the relevant aspects of an enterprise are. When studying the documentation of the Enterprise ontology, it explicitly states that (Uschold et al., 1995:3, italics added)
"The purpose of the definitions in an ontology are very different from that of dictionary definitions. The latter report how words are used; ontology definitions have a normative character."
From a constructivist point of view, the meaning of a word is not defined, but rather constructed. Also, in the proposed methodology for building ontologies, a step in the "capturing of ontologies" is (Uschold, 1995:3, italics added)
"production of precise unambiguous text definitions for [...] concepts and relationships."
This focus on precise and unambiguous definitions is consistent with an objectivistic worldview, not with a constructivistic.