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Master Thesis Proposal: An Evaluation of a Funtional Reference Model
SAP claims to offer a complete model of all the functionality present in IT-systems at electrical utilities, which are continuously updated to incorporate state-of-the-art functionality, and their use is free of charge. Vattenfall realises that there are inherent risks associated with adopting the functional view of a specific vendor. There is limited background on how the SAP functional reference model was derived. It may be tailored towards business processes dissimilar with those utilised at Vattenfall. In addition, the model maybe biased, making SAP-applications appear better than they actually are compared with applications from different vendors.
This master thesis entails evaluating Vattenfall’s SAP-based functional reference model, to determine the overall quality of the model. This will be done by cross-referencing the functional reference model with other functional descriptions. These descriptions might be taken from existing international standards or from other existing vendor descriptions. An important part of this thesis is to elicit a functional reference model through an extensive case study with system users at Vattenfall, thus capturing Vattenfall’s actual business requirements.
The analysis of these cross-references will be carried using methods and theories from the research discipline ontological engineering, which deals with building, integrating and evaluating ontologies, i.e. frameworks describing real-world concepts and their internal relations. A functional reference model is an ontology in the sense that it describes concepts (functions) and their categorization (relations). Other areas of interest might be requirements engineering, which deals with the elicitation and management of system requirements.
The goals of this master thesis is
• An assessment of the overall quality of the SAP-model as well as giving suggestions of how to amend any weaknesses found in the SAP-model.
• To develop a theoretical framework that can be used to compare the quality of different functional reference models. The framework should primarily be based on ontological and requirements engineering. The framework should summarize the criteria relevant when judging an ontology and specify how to analyze an ontology using these criteria.
• To gather all the relevant functional reference models that can be found in literature and from vendors other than SAP, and to depict these functional reference models as ontologies in some software tool (e.g. Protegé).
• To elicit a detailed functional reference model of a certain functional area based on the expertise of system users. This entails conducting an extensive case study at some Vattenfall Business Unit. This user-based functional reference model will also be modeled as an ontology.
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