Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems


There is an obvious need to improve the adaptation of methods into Computer Aided Software/Systems Engineering (CASE) tools. This paper presents a new approach to adapting methods into CASE environments, called metamodeling. It applies a new generation CASE tool or CASE shell to offer flexible mechanisms to specify and implement methods, or to modify existing ones in tools. This allows customization of CASE support for local needs. Metamodeling is a key step in such a customization and adaptation task. During metamodeling a formal model of the method to be supported is derived. This paper offers guidelines for a method adaptation process based on metamodeling. The goal of the process is to examine and improve methods so as to adapt them flexibly and successfully into the contingent local needs in order to achieve a sufficient fit between users' cognitive skills, special methods, and tool support. The practicality of the method adaptation guidelines is demonstrated by reporting a case study where a 'manual' method called Activity Modelling was adapted into a CASE shell called MetaEdit. We also suggest criteria to evaluate the adaptation outcome and illuminate them in our adaptation case. The paper ends up with a speculation of how the nature of IS development methods is likely to change due to increased computer support. This will make the dominating 'paperand- pencil' mentality obsolete, and introduce more flexible, complex and versatile methods which are supported by powerful analytical tools offering unprecented functionality such as simulation or hypertext features. We believe that the metamodeling approach will form an essential core of method development and use in years to come, as it can be used to extend and modify organizations' knowledge about methods and to make them learn more rapidly.