University of Twente Student Theses


A Reference Model Method to align the development of one software system with multiple Hinterland Container Terminals

Dietz, W.S. (2015) A Reference Model Method to align the development of one software system with multiple Hinterland Container Terminals.

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Abstract:Cofano Software Solutions B.V. develops the Terminal Operating System (TOS) to support the business processes of Hinterland Container Terminals (HCTs). The system under development is to be implemented at multiple HCTs using the same codebase. Therefore, Cofano needs to find a fit between the supported business processes of the existing codebase and the adopting organisations. This raises the need to identify commonality and variability between the customers’ business processes while dealing with a growing organisation. To that end, we developed a method that makes use of a reference model. A first version of the reference model has been developed by both reverse engineering the assumptions about the supported domain from the system as well as the development team’s mental model of the supported domain. The model describes the assumed processes supported by the TOS, thereby enabling the comparison with the actual business processes to find a fit. The method is tailored to fit into the agile software development process of Cofano. According to experts’ opinions, the method has merit in meeting Cofano’s arising needs and even unforeseen advantages, such as the ability to make the added value of the implicit knowledge explicit to the customer and to provide process optimisation as part of its implementation process. There are, however, important challenges that may impede the advantages of this method. Sharing knowledge with the competitor may be an objection to cooperate in developing new variations for the system. In addition, required capabilities in modelling skills and abstract thinking in using the method chunk are stringent, changes to the codebase should be made with care as the existing customer base may disagree, and changes proposed to the adopting organisation are more easily said than done. The most quantifiable advantage is estimated to be between 15-20% of the implementation project’s resources in terms of programming and configuration activities and is most likely to increase as more variations are added and the customer base expands. Not including the other qualitative benefits in the equation, this implies that at least 15% of an implementation project’s resources may be spent to maintain the reference model and cope with its challenges and pitfalls before a break even point is reached and further investment in the method no longer yields any advantages. For its adoption at Cofano, a few workshops are recommended given the required capabilities of the method’s users. Through these workshops, both the organisation’s required capabilities in its use and the method itself further develop from the experiences in these workshops. The learning experience by means of workshops prevents confronting customer organisations with a suboptimal methodology. As the method and the organisation’s capabilities require further development, it requires investment in terms of time and effort at first before its benefits materialise. In addition, the TOS’ variations and customer base are currently small but expected to expand in the future. Both imply that the benefits of its adoption come with a delay.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Cofano, Sliedrecht, Netherlands
Faculty:EEMCS: Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Subject:54 computer science, 85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Information Technology MSc (60025)
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