Modelling for the real world

I had a really interesting discussion with Oliver Jenkins of the T-Sparc project at BCU. It was sparked by my response a tweet saying “I dont feel that UML business process modelling quite encompasses everything we’re trying to communicate. So Im developing another language.”

Reading that, two thoughts almost simultaneously passed through my mind. One of the them being “what, develop another modelling language, are you mad?” and the other, perhaps slightly more considered “oh, I wonder what that will look like?”. Anyway after a chat with Oliver yesterday, I now have a much better understanding of the chain of events that led to that tweet.

Oliver is grappling with a number of issues in creating models and workflows around course approval process which meet all stakeholder needs. They need to create workflows which their IT team can use to implement in Sharepoint. Oliver has decided to create his own UML hybrid, which uses elements of UML but he is adapting it in order that his stakeholders (particularly in registry and IT ) can come to a common understanding and ultimately develop an improved, usable course documentation and approval system.

Across the current JISC Curriculum Design Programme there are many different approaches being taken to process modelling from full blown BPMN to some lighter weight approaches like BCU. Some projects are fortunate in that they can draw on institutionally based business analysts. However I think the BCU situation is probably more commonplace for most HE institutions. I do think that flexibility around modelling and modelling languages is key. The one size doesn’t fit all adage if you like – particularly when working with some of the more chaotic shall we say, processes within HE institutions. As the programme develops it is producing rich picture of a number of approaches to modeling, use of modelling languages, creation and implementation of workflows around the curriculum delivery process.

Oliver’s most recent blog post gives a good overview of where they’re at and why. And this post is really more a re-direct to the T-Spark blog – it’s well worth a read if you are interested in this area.

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