Model Based Acronym Disambiguation

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.

The acronyms of MBE, MBe, MBD, and MBSE all generate some consternation in model based conversations because of the overlap among them in capabilities and the similarities among nomenclature. My good friend Chad Jackson wrote about this back in 2016, but I think the confusion still exists today and we need to throw MBe into the conversation for good measure. I just hope no one introduces MBd any time soon!

Model Based Enterprise (MBE) and Model Based Engineering (MBe) are confusing because Engineering can encompass so much of what product-focused organizations do across the enterprise, and also because a lower case “e” and a capital “E” are not very different to the occasional observer. Model Based Engineering (MBe) and Model Based Design (MBD) are difficult to separate because frequently engineers do design work (so MBe would include MBD as a subset) and because so many design tools are entangled with engineering analysis and simulation tools. One common way of differentiating these terms is to put geometric definition tools into the MBD category and to put behavioral analysis tools into the MBe category. The electrical domain adds to the confusion in this space because there is so little conversation about what “model based” means for ECAD systems. What is MBD for Electrical CAD or is it simply 3D geometry for the mechanical elements of an electrical design?

Another challenge with this segmentation is that it still leaves confusion in differentiating MBe from Model Based Systems Engineering. By definition, it seems like MBSE would be a subset of MBE because it adds the more specific descriptor of “Systems”, but in practice MBe seems to include many robust, domain-specific and specialized analysis tools whereas MBSE includes generic simulation tools for analyzing behavior and product performance at a trade study or Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) level.

Adding one more layer to the confusion is that MBD means something different to software developers than it does to hardware developers. In the software domain, MBD stands for Model Based Development, and represents a concept that brings us right back around to systems engineering (the “model” in this flavor of MBD represents the system on which software will run).

What do you think? Is your organization progressing in its Model Based Enterprise journey enough to have some insight into differentiating the acronyms?

Please share your thoughts via a comment so we can all learn something on this journey together!