The identification of business components, which together define a modular systems architecture, is a key task in todays component-based development approaches for the business domain. This paper describes the Business Component Identification (BCI) method which supports a systematic partitioning of a problem domain into business components. The method allows the designer to state preferences for the partitioning process and uses them as the basis to produce an optimized balance between the business components' granularity on the one hand and their context dependencies on the other hand. It makes use of business domain models specified during the definition of system requirements and can be integrated into the early design phase of a component-based development process. The paper also shows how the produced partitioning can easily be refined into an architecture specification and thus can be used as a starting point for the technical design of a software system and/or its business components. 1 Motivation Modern component-based approaches allow developers to realize software systems in business domains by partitioning a problem space into a set of proper business components, developing or discovering suitable candidates, and assembling them to obtain the aspired solution [1,2,3]. This modular way of systems development promises to bring many advantages, among which especially a reduced time to market, the increased adaptability of systems to changing requirements and, as a result, reduced development costs are of key importance for the IT strategy of todays enterprises [1,4]. A prerequisite for the envisioned breakthrough of component-based approaches in practice, however, is to better support the underlying modular development paradigm with specialized methods and tools. Although the modular paradigm sounds rather straightforward at a first glimpse, it introduces a variety of methodological challenges when being analyzed more closely. As a consequence, both the partitioning as well as the composition process continue to pose research questions. Compared to the composition process, where a lot of research is ongoing and for which methods to browse, adapt,
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