International expert lectures at UP on deep structures of business processes

Posted on November 11, 2016


Prof Jan Dietz, a visiting academic who is internationally renowned for his development of the Design and Engineering Methodology for Organisations (DEMO) and his work on enterprise ontology, presented a public lecture to staff, students and industry partners of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology at the University of Pretoria (UP) on Thursday, 29 September 2016.

In his lecture, titled 'The deep structures of business processes', Prof Dietz provided an introduction to DEMO, which is the principal methodology used in the emerging discipline of enterprise engineering (EE). According to Prof Dietz, DEMO, being firmly rooted in the theories of EE, uncovers three hidden structures in business processes. The first of these structures, he says, is the transaction structure, as all business processes appear to be compositions of business transactions that share the same coordination structure around one product/service, thereby constituting a universal building block.

The second is the tree-like structure in which these building blocks appear to occur, while the third distinguishes between three sorts of building blocks, namely original, informational and documental. Prof Dietz says that knowing only the original structures (which constitutes by far the smallest number), together with the other ones, is sufficient to gain an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the core business processes of an organisation, called the essential model of an organisation.

Prof Dietz went on to explain how DEMO exposes the fallacy of flow thinking, which is currently the dominant way of thinking in business process management. He said that DEMO shows why redesigning and re-engineering business processes by applying current business process management approaches so often ends in disaster. He concluded that the paradigm shift brought about by DEMO also resolves the persistent failing of requirements determination in information systems engineering, and that considering an information system as merely an implementation of (a part of) an organisation, emphasises the necessity to base these requirements on a profound understanding of the supported organisation before interviewing future users.

Prof Dietz's main research interests are in the modelling, designing and redesigning, and engineering and reengineering of organisations, as well as in the development of ICT applications to support these processes. In recent years his focus has been on the emerging field of EE, which arose between the disciplines of information systems engineering and the organisational sciences. From 1995 until 2009, he was a full professor at the Delft University of Technology, whereupon he became an emeritus professor. He has been a part-time professor and visiting professor at several universities, including the University of Lisbon, the Antwerp Management School and the Czech Technical University in Prague. He has published over 250 scientific and professional papers, as well as several books. In addition to the above, he is the editor-in-chief of the Springer book series on enterprise engineering, and of the sub-series, 'Advances in enterprise engineering' of Springer's Lecture notes in business information processing. To proliferate and further develop the discipline of Enterprise Engineering, he has also set up and is chair of an international network of universities called the CIAO! Enterprise Engineering Network.



- Author Ansa Heyl

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