FCO-IM is the abbreviation for "Fully Communication Oriented Information Modeling". You probably understand the "Information Modeling" part, but what about the "Fully Communication Oriented" part? Most modeling methods try to model the reality of the users. FCO-IM instead, creates the model from the way the users communicate about their reality.
As an analyst it is extremely hard to really know the world of the user. It is even harder to create an integrated vision of the way several users think about the same world. By totally focussing on communication about the world, FCO-IM tries to prevent discussions about how things should be interpreted. If the user says "Customer 1092 has a credit limit of $10.000" and the other users agree this sentence is a good way of expressing this fact, we can purely focus on the information in this sentence not on it semantics.
Most IT specialists are used to schema's. We prefer technical drawings over natural language. For the user however these schema's are incomprehesible. FCO-IM provides both a schema representation and a natural language representation of a model. Analists and technicians can communicate using the schema's. Users and analist can communicate using the natural language expressions.
FCO-IM is not the only communication oriented method. FCO-IM belongs to the family of Object-Role Modeling methods. Other methods in this family are ORM*, EXPO, e-NIAM etc. All these methods are communication oriented and were derived from NIAM. (NIAM = Natural Language Information Modeling, a method designed by Prof. Nijssen).
Today the most popular variant in this family is probably the ORM* method designed by Dr. T. Halpin. A case-tool for this method is included in the Microsoft Visio Architect Studio Suite.
Interested? The FCO-IM Quick Tour shows the basic steps of Fully Communication Oriented Information Modelling. Click here to start the tour. The tour will be started in a new window. To quit the tour just close the window. (The tour is a slideshow of images with a resolution of 800x600. A resolution of 1024x768 is recommended to view the tour properly. The average size of the images is 58kb per page.)
Visit the literature section for on-line articles and titles of books about FCO-IM.
Visit the history page for more information about the history of FCO-IM.
* As you might have noticed there is difference between "Object-Role Modeling" (ORM) as a family of modeling methods and ORM as one of these modeling methods. To avoid unreadable pages in this website, we will omit a precise definition when the meaning of the word is clear from the context.