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This chapter is from the book

Benefits Resulting from the Use of IDEF0

The primary goal of IDEF0 is to facilitate change management, a goal that was introduced in Chapter 2, under the topic “Use of IDEF0 for Military Downsizing and Reorganization.” In this chapter, we discuss specific benefits that can be expected from the IDEF0 modeling effort.

Stated simply, the goal of the modeling effort must not stop at developing a model. Such a goal leads to models that sit on a shelf and do not achieve real operational benefits. Instead, the purpose of an IDEF0 model should be “to provide a baseline on which to plan and manage change.” The model serves as a communication vehicle for streamlining existing processes, for introducing new technology, for evaluating the impact of a change on related processes, and for achieving consensus among the staff involved in the change.

The initial benefits are achieved by the analyst as he creates (authors) the model. In developing the model, the analyst cannot help but identify problems and potential improvements in the operation of the enterprise. When the analysis is complete, the paper model is available, thereby providing documentation on-the-fly and not requiring a separate, after-the-fact documentation phase at the end of the analysis. Specific benefits of IDEF0 modeling are as follows:

  • Identifies Needs: A good IDEF0 model will look very simple and easy to understand. Needs and opportunities for improvement revealed during the modeling effort may seem obvious at first, but they would have gone unnoticed otherwise.
  • Builds Consensus: The diversity of a staff’s background, training, skills, and knowledge can impair communication. The reader/author model critique method can establish a well-defined common basis for understanding by the entire staff. Real consensus, not just imagined consensus, can be reached.
  • Enhances Vision: The condensed, graphical picture provided by the model presents a thought-provoking baseline on which to consider improvements. An analyst or an enterprise planner who considers potential use of a new technology or new method in light of this baseline may identify specific application opportunities.
  • Provides a Basis for an Open Architecture: The model structure may be used to define the interfaces between system elements, and to identify precise interfaces for the definition of an open systems architecture. The model bounds the scope precisely by showing where the modeled system fits into the bigger picture.
  • Broadens Automation and Commonality Potential: Almost any model of any size will reveal activities that are similar to those already modeled in other parts of the structure. These similarities can be used to define improvements, such as a subsystem to support these common activities.
  • Supports Management Control Through Metrics: The model may serve as a baseline for cost, time, flow capacity, peak loads, and other metrics relevant to the design of a new system. If the model detail is not sufficient to attach specific metrics, the lack of detail should be used to identify where further decomposition is needed. Finer detail in the modeling will facilitate more precise measurement.
  • Defines Variants for Broader Support System Use: Support systems that are applied to several activities in the model may benefit from a careful analysis of the actual functionality needed at each point of usage. Variants and versions of the support system could save considerable cost if the support system can be fine-tuned for each specific usage point.
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