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The role of the tutorials is to provide a platform for a more intensive scientific exchange amongst researchers interested in a particular topic and as a meeting point for the community. Tutorials complement the depth-oriented technical sessions by providing participants with broad overviews of emerging fields. A tutorial can be scheduled for 1.5 or 3 hours.

The Essence of Organisation: How to Design Successful Enterprise Information Systems
Lecturer(s): Jan L.G. Dietz, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
Estimated Session Time: 3 hours

Jan L.G. Dietz
Delft University of Technology

The Essence of Organisation:

How to Design Successful Enterprise Information Systems

Current enterprise information systems, notably ERP-systems, are rarely a big success. The main cause of the many failures in practice is the prevailing wrong understanding of these systems. The prominent current idea is that an enterprise information system (EIS) is a product, like for example a car or a house, that can basically at will be replaced by another one. This way of thinking is, however, fundamentally wrong. The proper metaphor for an EIS is the nervous system of a human body. Like the nervous system is intrinsically and intensely connected to the body it supports, an EIS is (or should be) intrinsically and intensely connected to the organization that it serves. Consequently, like a neurologic surgeon needs appropriate and thorough knowledge of both the nervous system and the human body, an EIS designer not only needs thorough knowledge of information systems. He or she needs also, and particularly, appropriate and thorough knowledge of organizations. Contemporary designers and implementers of ERP-systems lack such knowledge.

In this tutorial you will learn what this proper and deep knowledge of organizations is about. You will adopt and appreciate a revolutionary new way of understanding and revealing the deep patterns of operation in organizations; patterns that are fully ignored in current business process models. It is all based on a well-founded and proven theory about organizations, the PSI-theory (Performance in Social Interaction)1. A more common term for referring to this way of understanding organizations, in which one completely abstracts from realization and implementation, in order to reveal the essence of the organization, is "Enterprise Ontology". Enterprise Ontology is one of the four pillars of the discipline of Enterprise Engineering2. Recently, an easy introduction to Enterprise Ontology, as well as to the pioneer Enterprise Engineering methodology, called DEMO (Design and Engineering Methodology for Organizations), has been published3.

The PSI-theory states that people are the 'gems' of every organization. Equipped with the right authority and acting from the corresponding responsibility, they bring about, in social iinteraction, the services that they deliver to the environment, and to each other. This social interaction takes place in universal patterns, called transactions. The essential model of an organization is a network of transactions and actors, divided in three sub networks, called aspect organizations: the B-organization (B from business), the I-organization (I from informational), and the D-organization (D from documental). In the B-organization, the business transactions take place, resulting in the delivery of business services to the environment. The I-organization delivers informational services to the B-organization, like remembering, sharing, and deriving information. The D-organization delivers documental services to the I-organization, like archiving and providing documents (which contain the information that the I-organization deals with).

This tutorial focuses on the application of the PSI-theory to the design of enterprise information systems (EISs). The insightful new way of understanding EISs clarifies at once why standard EISs, like ERP systems, are rarely a big success. The knowledge you acquire puts you back in the driver's seat when having discussions with EIS/ERP-systems suppliers.

1Dietz, J.L.G.: Enterprise Ontology – Theory and Methodology. Springer, Heidelberg (2006)
2Dietz, J.L.G., Hoogervorst, J.A.P. et. al: The Discipline of Enterprise Engineering. In: Int. J. Organisational Design and Engineering, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2013, pp 86-114
3Perinforma, A.P.C.: The Essence of Organisation, Sapio 2013 (

Biography of Jan Dietz
Jan Dietz is emeritus professor in Information Systems Design at Delft University of Technology, as well as part-time professor in Enterprise Engineering at the same university. He holds a Master degree in Electrical Engineering and a Doctoral degree in Computer Science. He has published over 200 scientific and professional articles as well as several books. His current research interests are in Enterprise Architecture, Enterprise Ontology, and Enterprise Governance, the three pillars of Enterprise Engineering. Before his academic career, he has been in business automation for 10 years. He is the spiritual father of DEMO (Design & Engineering Methodology for Organizations), a pioneering methodology in Enterprise Engineering. For developing the emerging discipline of Enterprise Engineering, he has founded the international research network CIAO!. He also acts as editor-in-chief of a book series on Enterprise Engineering, published by Springer. In order to practice Enterprise Engineering, he has founded the Enterprise Engineering Institute. He also acts as director of Sapio, a training and consultancy company in Enterprise Engineering. His e-mail addresses are and

This is a 3 hours tutorial according to the next outline:
  • Introduction to the PSI-theory (Enterprise Ontology)
  • The ontological aspect models, illustrated at an example case
  • Designing the EIS for the example case
  • Discussion of the practical consequences of Enterprise Ontology.