Capture Accurate Solution Requirements the First Time with Exploratory Modeling (xM): How to Nearly Eliminate Post-Go-Live Application Design Failures

  • by Heinz Roggenkemper, Executive Vice President of Development, SAP Labs, LLC
  • Ralf Ehret, Development Architect, SAP AG
  • Andreas Tönne, Lead Consultant, Cincorn Systems
  • January 15, 2008
The lack of a common language between business users and developers during application development projects often results in developers spending a lot of time designing a solution that does not meet user needs. This article explores an approach to application development called exploratory modeling (xM) that reduces the risk of application design failure by using non-technical, business-level tools and concepts to create an application model, and then enabling fine-tuning of the model through shortened, interactive analysis and design cycles. The article starts by examining the root causes of design failures, and then defines the xM approach and discusses how it was successfully used in two projects.

Heinz Roggenkemper

Heinz Roggenkemper is an Executive Vice President of Development at SAP Labs, LLC, and is responsible for the Business Process Renovation team, which strives to improve business processes by renewing them — making changes to something that already exists, leaving its essence intact, and giving it new vigor. Heinz joined SAP AG in 1982 as a systems consultant. From 1986 to 1987, he worked at SAP International in Switzerland, followed by two years in the United States as the first president of SAP America. In 1990, he returned to SAP Walldorf’s development organization and was responsible for the development of application link enabling (ALE) and Internet applications until 1996. Most recently (until the end of 2003), Heinz served as the managing director of SAP Labs North America, where he was instrumental in growing SAP’s development activities in North America.

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Ralf Ehret

Ralf Ehret is a development architect at SAP. He joined SAP in April 1998 as a developer working with HR and Workforce Management software before moving on to the Business Process Renovation Team. One of his first challenges was to evaluate Smalltalk as a tool for rapid prototyping. Together with consultants from Georg Heeg eK, he has successfully completed two Smalltalk projects at SAP. At the end of these two projects, Ralf became the main SAP contact during Cincom Smalltalk’s VisualWorks-to-SAP integration project.

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Andreas Tönne

Andreas Tönne is Lead Consultant at Cincom Systems, where he is responsible for the Cincom Smalltalk-related service business as well as partner development in the European market. Andreas coined the name “Exploratory Modeling” and wrote the first articles about this discovery as an answer to the question, “Why is Smalltalk so successful in projects like at SAP?” He was a consultant and co-developer in the two xM projects at SAP that are described in this article. His work on this article was mainly done while working with Georg Heeg eK.

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