Two-level Variability Analysis{Comments Off on Two-level Variability Analysis}

by Han C
I found this article while searching for E-R diagrams for common business situations. This article discusses the transition away from a silo application approach to a more flexible process focused information system. This article makes emphasis towards carefully analyzing business processes. Prior to reading this article, I had never heard of a silo system before. According to Wikipedia, the “silo effect  refers to a lack of communication and common goals between departments in an organization.” Another way of looking at this would be to consider a business process as a composite activity. The author is focused towards business processes in relation to a software production. This analysis method is used for developing models in a business environment which each process can have multiple flow paths. For example a store item with an RFID tag can be paid for in multiple ways, cash, a personal check, or credit card, once checked out from the shopping cart. The term, variability, used to signify the potential changes concerning elements of a business process. The reason for two separate tiers is because the development process is divided into two different domains. Each one is set as a foundation for which changes to the database can be made. In other words, the check out cart stays consistent but the payment methods can be tailored to the businesses preferences. The article explains that by separating the core component from its extensions, it can save a lot of time from maintenance by promoting reusability.

This article relates to database because as a database developer working on an inventory management system, one must account for different flow paths that a product might take. The product could be anything tangible or perhaps it could even be software. The process can begin from the accumulation from raw materials or the division of workload for application development. The article also brings into account the usefulness of business intelligence applications. The example referring to tracking the RFID product is example of this type of concept at work because each process is broken down and analyzed. When a product is purchased, it can be distinguished by date, time, price, or some even some sort of inventory tag. Currently there are several products used for business intelligence, Cognos is just one example. Amazon also uses this to keep track of what people purchase and what they may potentially purchase while shopping. I found the premise of this article interesting because the article stresses that variability must be taken into account for data modeling in business processes. This concept when applied to database development can make a huge difference in the amount of time it takes to completely revamp a database or to simply alter a small component to fit a businesses needs.

Reference: Hong, M., Moon, M., Yeom, K. (2008). Two-Level Variability Analysis for Business Process with Reusability and Extensibility. Computer Software and Applications. (August 2008) P. 263-270. Retrieved from