CASE tools

CASE tools are used in the creation and development of enterprise management information systems. They can be considered as tools for continuous improvement of work.

CASE tools (Computer - Aided Software Engineering) are tools that allow you to automate the process of developing an information system and software. The development and creation of enterprise management information systems are associated with the identification of business processes, analysis of it, determination of the process elements relationship, optimization of their infrastructure, etc. The main purpose of CASE tools using is to reduce the time and cost of developing information systems and improve their quality.

Many modern CASE tools provide opportunities for modeling almost all subject areas of organizations. There are tools for describing business process models through various diagrams, schemes, graphs and tables as part of these tools.

CASE tools classification

Three main groups can be distinguished of all CASE tools variety that exists today. These groups are related to the stages of information systems development and their life cycle. Classification of CASE tools is carried out depending on stages development that they support.

The following groups of CASE tools are:

  • upper-level CASE tools. These CASE tools are focused on the initial stages of creating an information system. They are related to analysis and planning. Upper-level CASE tools provide strategic planning, setting goals, tasks and priorities, as well as graphical representation of the necessary information. All upper-level CASE tools contain graphical charting tools, such as entity-relationship diagrams (ER diagrams), data flow diagrams (DFD), block diagrams, decision trees, etc.
  • lower level CASE tools. These CASE tools are focused on the last stages of information system development Ц design, program code development, testing and implementation. The lower-level CASE tools depend on the data that the high-level tools provide. They are used by application developers and help to create an information system, but they are not full-valuable software development tools.
  • integrated CASE tools (I Ц CASE). These CASE tools cover the full lifecycle of information system development. They allow data exchange between high and lower level tools and are a kind of "bridge" between high and lower level CASE tools.

Upper-level CASE tools and integrated CASE tools are used to model and optimize business processes. They make it possible to improve the quality of business process models through automatic control, make it possible to evaluate the expected result, speed up the design process, and provide opportunities for changing and updating models.

CASE tools characteristics

The main characteristics of CASE tools are the following:

  • graphical interface availability. CASE tools must be able to display processes in the form of diagrams in order to represent process models. Schemas are much easier to use than various text and numeric descriptions. This makes it possible to obtain easily manageable model components with a simple and clear structure.
  • repository availability. A repository is a shared database that contains a description of the elements of processes and the relationships between them. Each repository object must have a list of properties specific only to this object.
  • flexibility of application. This characteristic makes it possible to represent business processes in various ways that are important for the analysis point of view. CASE tools should allow you to analyze processes and create models focused on various aspects of the company's activities.
  • teamwork possibility. The analysis and modeling of processes may require the collaboration of several people. The CASE tools must provide change management of any fragments of models and their modification for simultaneous work on process models.
  • prototypes creating. Process prototypes are necessary so that it is possible to understand at the early stages of process changes how the process will meet the requirements.
  • reports creating. CASE tools should ensure the creation of reports on all process models, taking into account the interrelation of elements. Such reports are necessary for analyzing models and determining optimization opportunities. The reports provide control over the completeness and sufficiency of models, the level of decomposition of processes, the correctness of the syntax of diagrams and the types of elements used.

CASE tools choosing

The choice of CASE tools for analyzing and modeling processes depends on many factors Ц financial capabilities, functional characteristics, personnel training, information technology tools used, etc. It does not make sense to give an exhaustive composition of these factors, because in a situation of choice for each specific case, this composition will change. However, it is possible to define a set of "core" factors on the basis of which the criteria for choosing CASE tools are determined.

Such "core" factors include the following:

  • modeling objectives and processes analysis. The necessary methods are determined based on the modeling goals that should support CASE tools. Modeling objectives determine the required level of models detail and the reporting form.
  • usability. This factor determines a set of criteria for presenting results in the most understandable and acceptable way. The choice of CASE tools should be carried out taking into account the fact that users have to spend as little effort as possible to work in the CASE tools environment. CASE tools should be visually and intuitively understandable to users.
  • application of standard methodologies. This factor determines the criteria for choosing CASE tools related to the use of standard methodologies for analyzing and modeling business processes. Modeling does not end with the creation of new process models as a rule. The models are used for the implementation of information management systems and process automation. The interaction between CASE tools and various information systems is simplified due to standardization.
  • ease of use. It is necessary to take into account such characteristics as application efficiency, maintainability, portability of models from one system to another when choosing CASE tools. This factor is related to the technical characteristics of the hardware.
  • labor intensity. This factor determines a set of criteria related to the development and study of the CASE tools work. You should take into account how much time it will take to train users.
  • subjectivity. This factor should also not be excluded from the set of criteria for choosing CASE tools. There may be subjective considerations of choosing a particular CASE tool that are not related to rational selection criteria.