Welcome to another post in the series on “Introduction to Enterprise Architecture”. The series consists of four articles and is based on the questions
The intended audience for the series are all those of you who are affected by the topic of enterprise architecture in one way or another. You might be a decision maker who wants to understand a topic being highly relevant for many companies and organizations. You might be as well an architect, who already knows about the complexity of Enterprise Architecture and is looking for conclusive and consistent suggestions on how to answer the questions mentioned before.
In the first two articles of this series, I have given you some suggestions on the terminology of architecture and enterprise architecture. In the current article I would like to deal with the question of which benefits are provided by Enterprise Architecture Frameworks.
The major motivation for using Enterprise Architecture Frameworks is certainly the desire of all actors in the company and across all phases of architecture development and use, to generate the greatest possible added value while at the same time minimizing costs by using good practice. One of the questions you may find familiar in this context is whether the added value of implementing the concept of Enterprise Architecture is large and sustainable enough to justify the effort involved.
From my point of view, this question should be considered individually in each organization. The following points are worth being considered.
In particular, point 2, learning from the experience of other organizations, is often a key factor in using one or the other Enterprise Architecture Framework. Therefore, I would now like to elaborate the concept of a framework and the benefits associated with its use.
For the sake of common terminology, I would like to refer to the definition given in one of the most widely used frameworks, the The Open Group Architecture Framework.
An Architecture Framework is a foundational structure, or set of structures, which can be used for developing a broad range of different architectures. It should describe a method for designing a target state of the enterprise in terms of a set of building blocks, and for showing how the building blocks fit together. It should contain a set of tools and provide a common vocabulary. It should also include a list of recommended standards and compliant products that can be used to implement the building blocks.
Accordingly, the following added value of the frameworks is essential for the use of the Enterprise Architecture Framework.
Even though many frameworks provide added value in all those points, it should be noted that different frameworks focus on different priorities.
So how to get the most value of the Enterprise Architecture Frameworks and which guidance does help in the decision on one or the other framework? I recommend to group the added values into three groups and then consider within each group what benefis are of particular relevance to your company or your organization.
The recommended groups of added value are:
Lets discuss these points in more detail.
Enterprise Architecture Frameworks provide good practice in how to deal with specific issues. That is, they usually contain repeatable solutions for recurring tasks. This is particularly relevant because good practice and repeatable approaches minimize the efforts required to implement Enterprise Architecture and thus improve the ratio of cost and benefit in favor of the benefit. In addition, the development of Enterprise Architecture Frameworks often involves a large number of renowned companies and / or state organizations, such as ministries, depending on the focus of their work. In active communities, they promote the further development of frameworks based on common challenges.
Given the methodological, syntactic and semantic guidelines, Enterprise Architecture Frameworks ensure cross-architecture consistency. This applies to the methodology used in architecture development and usage, the notation used and the semantics of the meta-model used for the formalized modeling in software tools.
The guaranteed consistency ensures in particular the sustainability of the content and solutions developed in an Enterprise Architecture, since common meta-models fundamentally guarantee the reusability of the results created.
All Enterprise Architecture Frameworks have one thing in common: they provide certain guidelines on methodology or provide at least some guidelines to define a common methodology in an organization. Many frameworks have particular strengths in explicit guidelines and assistance with notation and modeling. In addition, some of them either provide implicit or explicit guidelines on methodology. The TOGAF Architecture Development Method (ADM) is a prominent example of those guidelines. In practice, the guidelines on methodology promote the optimal interaction of all involved actors over the entire period of architecture development. Equally beneficial for a common understanding of all actors involved in a cross-cutting methodology are consistent vocabularies. These not only represent an added value that should not be underestimated, especially in culturally or linguistically different environments. Cultural and linguistic differences do not only refer to different geographic or regional origins, but also to the interaction of different interest groups, such as business and IT.
The added values contained in the frameworks are based to a large extent on the included good practice. This results in many contents appear duplicated among the frameworks.
As examples of some frameworks (which basically all are more or less directly related to each other and are also openly available to public), I would like to recommend the following selection for closer inspection:
I would like to sum up this article with the conclusion that using Enterprise Architecture Frameworks is a big win for most organization. More often than not the efforts in implementing the concept of Enterprise Architecture are outweighed by the benefits because of using an Enterprise Architecture Framework.
Enterprise Architecture Frameworks contain good practice, based on the experience of active communities, which are usually composed of renowned companies and / or state organizations. While the Enterprise Architecture Frameworks provide practical benefits in practice primarily through structured assistance, guidelines on methodology, syntactic and semantic guidelines, standard and product recommendations and active communities, the corresponding added values can be subdivided into three groups, namely
I hope that you have enjoyed the entire series and that you will be able to make informed decisions about dealing with Enterprise Architecture in your company or organization.