What is Object Process Methodology?

Instructor: Elizabeth Wamicha

Elizabeth teaches undergraduate courses in Business and Information Technology for the last 7 years. She is currently on course to completing a Doctorate in Information Systems

This lesson examines an important conceptual modelling language known as the Object Process Methodology. This methodology is used in the design of high quality systems.

An Overview of the Object Process Methodology

The Object Process Methodology (OPM) provides a holistic methodology that is used to cover the behavior and the structure of a given system. In this case, a system is a group of interrelated parts that interact with each other with the aim of completing a task or goal. Any given system will usually be made up of two components: its structure and its behavior. The OPM enables system developers to design both the structure of the system and the behavior that the system will exhibit. The main motivation behind the development of the Object Process Methodology was to ensure that system developers would be able to get a very clear picture of how a given system would be structured and how each component of the system structure would behave. The OPM can be used to develop two types of representations. These are:

  • Graphical representations: Object-Process Diagram (OPD)
  • Textual representations: Object-Process Language (OPL)

The OPM Entities

The OPM representations will usually have the following entities:

  • The Object: this describes a thing and has the ability to exist for a given duration of time. An example of an object would be a customer order that has just been generated by a particular customer.
  • State: this describes a condition of a particular object. This condition can exist for a given period of time. An example of this condition would be a number of customer orders that are currently in queue waiting to be processed.
  • Process: this describes a pattern of actions that transform the state of a single object or a group of objects. A process can also create or destroy an order. An example would be when a customer order that was previously in queue is converted into a fulfilled order, thereby triggering the products ordered to be shipped off to the customer.

The Object-Process Diagram (OPD)

The Object-Process Diagram (OPD) is the graphical representation used in OPM. This diagram is used to describe objects and processes. The diagram also attempts to describe the links that exist between them. These links are of two main types, including:

  • Structural Links: these provide an object-to-object or process-to-process link. They offer a visual guide on how the system will be structured.
  • Procedural Links: These provide an object-to-process link. They offer a visual guide on how the system changes over a given period of time.

A system can be expressed in Object-Process Diagrams that are hierarchically organized. This means that the initial or root OPD, also known as the Systems Diagram (DG), provides a general or bird's-eye view of the system. Subsequent diagrams provide an increasing level of detail.

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