5.2.5 The METIS approach

METIS Solutions, a subsidiary of the NCR corporation, have a product series aimed at enterprise modeling and related activities. The products are relatively mature (version 1.0 was released in 1991, current version is 1.9.1), comprehensive, and the METIS framework is considered to be representative for state-of-the-art within commercially available enterprise modeling approaches.

The basis of all variants of enterprise modeling is the METIS Enterprise Modeling Platform (METIS Solutions, 1996; METIS Solutions, 1993a). It is an object-oriented, graphically oriented modeling tool with palettes of generic modeling concepts that can be arranged on a large modeling sheet. Objects and relationships can have properties associated on the type level. Instances of object and relationship types may have value sets and methods associated at the instance level. Additional information elements can be incorporated to handle information external to the model (e.g., video or sound). Functionality of models is customizable using a general purpose programming language (C).

Enterprise modeling is more specifically supported through an extension called METIS GEM (METIS Solutions, 1996; METIS Solutions, 1993b). GEM is a template of modeling concepts and functionality tailored to enterprise modeling. The template includes a number of so-called containers, each one being a template directed at a particular aspect of an enterprise (e.g., geography, competence, work flow and organization).

Purposes of enterprise modeling according to the METIS approach are

Thus the approach is intended to cover all three categories of purposes.

The type of work typically modeled is not explicitly stated, but from the documentation and personal experiences the approach is best suited for stable processes associated with replication risk, either manufacturing of physical goods (they use manufacturing of bikes as an example themselves) or information processing.

The enterprise models developed using METIS GEM may be very sophisticated due to the underlying extensible generic modeling language. Graphical notation can be customized as appropriate and information integrated with models for various purposes. Functionality of the tools and the general purpose programming language make the potentials of models large. However, required resources to model and implement specified solutions may also escalate.

The process of enterprise modeling is not discussed to any significant degree. Most of the attention of the user's manuals is directed towards languages and tool properties and very little towards modeling. A statement that may illustrate their view on models versus modeling is the following (METIS Solutions, 1993b:1-1):

"The methodology is to a large extent inherent in the EPD-language making enterprise process design modelling a simple and uniform approach across the different industries."
Modeling is discussed in terms of generic language elements (i.e., create root process, create glossary entry, create sub-processes, connect elements, etc.). Team-based enterprise modeling is mentioned briefly only when discussing a tool feature that allows decomposition of models so that submodels can be worked out in parallel.

Constructivistic ideas are not expressed in the documentation surveyed, and conflicting views of reality does neither seem to be considered problematic. Hence, the worldview underlying the METIS approach is more likely objectivistic than constructivistic.