Subject

Challenges

Despite the ubiquitous presence of information technology in today’s business environments, designing, implementing and deploying Enterprise Information Systems is still a challenging task. On the one hand, there is the demanding technological complexity of building, adapting and handling large software systems, which is amplified by ever changing technologies as well as a steady stream of new buzzwords and promises of so-called silver bullets. But technology is only one side of the coin. For Information Systems to serve a firm’s goals and contribute to its competitiveness, they need to be aligned to the business. That not only requires taking into account how the business is done today, but also anticipating possible future changes. In addition to that, it demands a professional process of mutual planning and adaptation of Information Systems and the action systems they are embedded in. Managing such a process efficiently requires business experts to acquire a solid understanding of an information system’s functionality, and IT professionals to get a sound understanding of the way, the business is run. However, in many companies, overcoming the notorious “cultural chasm” (Peter G. W. Keen) between business experts and IT professionals is a major challenge.

Enterprise models as key to the solution

To cope with these obstacles, there is a need to reduce complexity and risk, to improve communication between stakeholders with different professional backgrounds, to accomplish a higher level of integration, and to align IT and business more closely. In software engineering, this challenge has been met with the introduction of conceptual models of software systems. Suggested approaches, however, do not account for the mutual adjustment of Information Systems and organisational processes. Enterprise models are intended to fill this gap. An enterprise model integrates conceptual models of Information Systems with models describing the surrounding action systems.