Stage M

M topM_stage



The main function of the Model stage is to contextualize the system to be forecasted, as well as to capture and review existing and available knowledge relevant for the project. As a result, this stage allows the team of analysts to harmonize their knowledge through the integration of their different perspectives and to collect relevant information from external sources.



Expertise or practice in functional modelling techniques.

Technical knowledge in the field.



4 working sessions of 4 h each within 10 working days



Already available process models or diagrams

Already available datasets or technical info sheets

Access to patent databases and scientific literature


2-4 analysts + requested experts.



Chosen by user


Applications for product/process functional modelling (optional)


  1. Describe the system to be forecasted (STFSTF = System to be forecasted  by its function, by answering the questions: “What is the STF for?” and “Why do we need the SFT?”. The definition of an IDEF0 (or analogous) model would be beneficial.
  2. Describe the specific technologies or, in general, solutions that compete with or offer an alternative to the STFSTF = System to be forecasted . Answer following question: “Which systems get the same results?”.
  3. Define the main criteria for comparing alternative technologies (including the STFSTF = System to be forecasted ) in terms of both performance and expenses (to be intended as consumption of resources of time, information, material, energy and space). In order to define such criteria, answer the following question: “How would I measure that the STFSTF = System to be forecasted  is better (or worse) than Alternative X?”
  4. Select the most promising alternative technology/solution that represents the best candidate for substituting the STFSTF = System to be forecasted  in the context object of study (even if not completely suitable for its substitution). This step aims to shorten the time required for the forecasting study with minimum loss of relevant information. Besides, in the final stage, this choice should be clearly reported in the limitations of the study.
  5. Prepare a structured description of the STFSTF = System to be forecasted  and its main alternatives (also in terms of the measurable criteria identified at Instruction #3). Approach the analysis from two perspectives:

a. System hierarchy.

i.  The STFSTF = System to be forecasted  as a whole technology (system); ii. The parts and/or the phases composing the STFSTF = System to be forecasted  (sub-systems); iii.The contexts, the STFSTF = System to be forecasted  and its main alternative operate in or where they are required (super-systems);

b. Dynamics of evolution – Consider what the situation of the past was and what the expected situation (no forecast yet) for the future will be.

c. Considering the dynamics of the evolution at the three different hierarchical levels, extract a set of features characterizing the expected evolution in terms of factors pushing the development of novel solutions (drivers) and traits preventing it (barriers).


➔     In order to properly address the whole activity of Stage M Add a Tooltip Text, select the relevant content by focusing on the forecasting questions defined in Stage FORFOR = FORmulate .

➔     Beyond the instructions described above, use FORMAT Deliverable 2.2 for a review of modelling techniques with descriptions, examples and hyperlinks to the sources.

➔     Use the STFSTF = System to be forecasted  functional model produced in step M-1 as a trigger for the identification of alternative technologies/solutions at step M-2. The alternatives must be capable of producing the same results of the STF or, at least, satisfying the same overall objectives or needs.

➔     Use the Element-Name-Value (ENV) model to generate the criteria to measure the performances and the expenses of the STFSTF = System to be forecasted  and its alternatives/competitors (FORMAT Deliverable 2.2), to help distinguish between the name of what is measured and its value. The collection of such values with a time perspective can be significantly beneficial to both step M-5 and the A = Act  Stage of the methodology, e.g. for the identification of Y-axis units of S-curves statistical regressions.

➔     The criteria defined at step M-3 should be capable of capturing the main parameters characterizing the technologies under investigation without introducing excessive details. Suggestions for the identification of these criteria can be found in check-lists for requirements identification and characterization. Please refer to the suggested readings.

➔     For the identification of the most suitable solution for the substitution of the STFSTF = System to be forecasted  at step M-4, please consider what you consider as the most relevant and the most critical parameters for the competition of such a technology in the field (e.g. a parameter that prevents implementation).

➔     In order to be sure of identifying a sufficiently broad amount of contexts in which the STFSTF = System to be forecasted  and its main alternative are used, think about their impact in four domains: technological, environmental, economic and social (TEES). If you cannot cover these domains, retrieve the relevant content from sources of explicit knowledge (books, papers, info sheets, etc.) or tacit knowledge (experts in the fields of the study).

➔      The timespan in systems evolution at step M-5 should range forward and backward at least the same time span as forecasting time defined in Stage FOR. Actually, the backward analysis should be preferably pushed twice more than the expected forward perspective to gain a better understanding of the system evolution (e.g. a team interested to study the expected evolution 10 years ahead, should preferably study the past 20 years or more, definitely not less than the last 10 years).

➔      In case this is not your first application of the FORMAT methodology (or you are familiar with the System Operator logic), it is suggested to start organizing the retrieved data and info about the STF consistently with the logic and the structure of the System Operator from the very beginning, so as to speed up what is required at step M-5. This should allow a more efficient management of the knowledge flow along the whole Stage. For instance, when you define the STF and its function at step M-1, fill the System-Present screen. When you get in touch with relevant information and data about the parts/components of the STF (as a product) or STF phases (as a process), organize them in the Sub-system level, choosing the screen concerning the timespan the data refer to, etc.

Suggested reading

Beyond the specific description of the Steps characterizing the Stage M Add a Tooltip Text of the FORMAT methodology, the following reference may come in handy.

Modelling Techniques

Becattini N, (2013) Product qnd Process Modelling – State of the art update – FORMAT Deliverable 2.2


Identification of relevant criteria for comparing alternative technologies/solutions

Becattini N, Cascini G, Petrali P, Pucciarini A, (2011) Production processes modelling for identifying technology substitution opportunities, Proceedings of the ETRIA TRIZ Future Conference p. 17–34.


Pahl G, (2007). Engineering Design: A Systematic Approach – Section 3.3.2 (Vol. 157). K. Wallace, & L. T. Blessing (Eds.). Springer.


Structured and Systematic description of the STF

Altshuller, G. S. (1984). Creativity as an exact science: The theory of the solution of inventive problems (Vol. 320). New York: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers

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