Method Architecture Fundamentals
Introduces fundamental UMA principles, concepts, abstractions.
Main Description

What is UMA?

The Unified Method Architecture (UMA) is a process engineering meta-model that defines schema and terminology for representing methods consisting of method content and processes. Also see Concept: Key Capabilities of the Unified Method Architecture (UMA) for more details.

Fundamental principle within UMA

UMA is based on the following fundamental separations of concern:

  • The separation of core method content versus the application of method content in processes
  • The definition of an optional extensibility mechanism in the method for large scale management of method and process repositories
  • Packaging and configuration of method content, processes, and plugins in method libraries
  • A separation of recommended method and guidance description fields
  • A separation of semantic elements from their notation in process diagrams

The Basic Elements of UMA

The most fundamental principle of the Unified Method Architecture (UMA) is the separation of reusable core method content from its application in processes and almost all of UMA's elements are categorized along this separations.

The Unified Method Architecture separates reusable core method content from its application in processes.  Method content describes what is to be produced, the necessary skills required and the step-by-step explanation describing how specific development goals are achieved, independently of the placement of these items within a development lifecycle.  Processes take these method elements and relate them into semi-ordered sequences that are customized to specific types of projects. For example, a software development project that develops an application from scratch performs development tasks such as "Develop Vision" or "Use Case Design" similar to a project that extends an existing software system.  However, the two projects will perform the Tasks at different points in time with a different emphasis, i.e. they will perform the steps of these tasks at different point of time and perhaps apply individual variations and additions.

The figure below shows the difference between method content and process by representing them as two different dimensions:

  • Method content describing how development work is being performed is categorized by disciplines.  Each discipline is comprised of tasks (not visible in the figure) that provide step-by-step descriptions of how specific development goals are achieved. 
  • For a process, tasks have been referenced by the process from the method content and placed into breakdown structures and workflows ready for instantiation by allocating resources to perform the work and having real work products as the inputs and outputs of the tasks.

Diagram illustrating the separation of Method and Process content within the UMA Meta-Model

Method Content definition versus
the application of Method Content in a Process.

UMA's key concepts reflect this separation of method content from process as shown in the figure below.  It show that a Method (also refered to as a Method Framework) comprises on method content described with concepts such Work Products, Roles, Task and Categories as well as Processes described with Activities, Capability Patterns, or Delivery Processes.

Diagram illustrating that the intersection between Method and Process content is guidance

Overview of how the key UMA concepts are positioned based on whether they represent method content or process

Key Method Content Elements  are:

Key Process Elements  are:

Guidance  comes in many types: