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Design and Evolution of e-Business Models
M. Weiss∗ , D. Amyot†
∗ School

of Computer Science, Carleton University Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6 (Canada) Email: weiss@scs.carleton.ca † SITE, University of Ottawa Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5 (Canada) Email: damyot@site.uottawa.ca

Abstract— Companies need to adjust their business models constantly to changes in their environment. In this paper we propose a lightweight approach for evolving business models that allows for a quick evaluation of alternatives, while preserving investments in existing business processes. The approach is based on the User Requirements Notation (URN) for modeling and analysis of early requirements in the form of goals and scenarios. URN models help us model the strategic options available to a business for evolving its business model, and determine when the right moment to apply them has come. We illustrate the systematic and incremental evolution of business model alternatives for an e-business case study.

I. I NTRODUCTION In today’s rapidly evolving world, companies need to adjust their business models constantly to changes in their environment. However, they also need to do so in a controlled manner. An approach to evolving business models needs to strike a balance between capitalizing on new opportunities, and entering uncharted territories by mitigating the risks involved with such a change. The approach must be lightweight in order to quickly evaluate alternative models, but also be reliable. We argue that the User Requirements Notation (URN) [1], [3] enables such an approach. While it allows us to explore alternative business models, it addresses the need to preserve investments in existing business processes. Business processes can be expressed as scenarios, which are defined separately from the participants in the business model that perform them. This allows us to experiment with different business models without changing the underlying business processes. URN has many concepts relevant for business process modeling, such as behavior, structure, goals, and non-functional requirements. URN combines two complementary notations: the Goal-oriented Requirement Language (GRL) [5], and the Use Case Map (UCM) notation [6]. GRL captures business or system goals, alternative means of achieving goals, and the rationale for goals and alternatives. The notation is especially good for the modeling of non-functional requirements. A UCM model depicts scenarios as causal flows of responsibilities that can be superimposed on underlying structures of components. Responsibilities are scenario activities representing something to be performed (operation, action, task, function, etc.), and can be allocated to components. Components are generic enough to represent software entities

(e.g., objects, processes, databases, or servers) as well as nonsoftware entities (e.g., actors or hardware resources). Our example is based on a WS-I (Web Services Interoperability) case study [11], [12]. These documents describe a simple supply chain management system in terms of use cases defining the use of Web services in structured interactions and identifying basic interoperability requirements. The use case model integrates high-level functional requirements, a set of simplifying assumptions, and eight use cases and activity diagrams. The main functional requirements are: • Retailer offers electronic goods to Consumers. • Retailer must manage stock levels in Warehouses. • Retailer must restock a good from the respective Manufacturer’s inventory, if the stock level in one of its Warehouses falls below a certain threshold. • Manufacturers must execute a production run to build the finished goods, if a good is not in stock. In a recent contribution [8], we showed how a UCM model could be extracted from such use cases and informal requirements. We argued that URN offers suitable and useful features for modeling and analyzing business processes, and meets the goals of a business process...
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