Requirements elicitation and qualitative analysis for strategic and contextual capture for enterprise architectures using a case study approach

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Towson University. Department of Computer and Information Sciences


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Enterprise architectures (EAs) aim to develop a tight alignment between an enterprise's environment and its business objectives. To facilitate this, enterprise architecture frameworks (EAFs) have been used to understand both strategy and business architecture to synthesize a supporting information system (IS). This acquired understanding of the background that shapes the functions and goals of an enterprise is then used to drive decision making at the strategic, tactical, and operational levels. Problematically, a formidable barrier - the acquisition of expertise in EA - exists for any enterprise looking to use one of the common EAFs. By guiding the initial data gathering necessary for an EA with the application of a lightweight elicitation mechanism, several facets of EA use can be considered. The research methodology employed for this dissertation uses the case study approach and the coding concepts from Grounded Theory Method to enable derivation of theory-based insights and discovery of generalized concepts applicable to EAFs. The analytic approach uses a closed interview procedure based on an adaptation of the Vision-Mission-Objectives-Strategy-Tactics (VMOST) queries. The level of alignment between other strategic capture artifacts and the interviews is investigated for explicit and implicit variations in the strategic objectives and context. This research gives insight on the use of EAFs and provides a mapping of the VMOST queries to the inputs for an EAF, and offers an enhanced set of VMOST interrogatives. It develops an understanding on the use of qualitative data handling methods within the context of software engineering focused case studies. The analysis of the data following the coding process delivered insights on the utility of the VMOST-derived instrument used during stakeholder interviews, providing a distinct comparison versus the existing documentation-driven approach. This work improves the usability for this powerful body of tools, providing impetus for wider adoption. By executing an active, empirical procedure with a working enterprise, various operational considerations in using the techniques are also exposed for documentation and, potentially, for future investigation based on the discovered theories.