Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

About an enterprise architecture reference

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An architecture becomes reference if it's generic enough, available and used by many in the community. 

The level of abstraction of an architecture should be high enough to serve its scope--for instance, a business domain or an industry. But the architectures at these various abstraction levels should be part of an architecture continuum, as TOGAF states.

Reference architectures can be created for many business and technology functions. 

A reference model can be customised to create an architecture for your domain or enterprise. By comparison, the generic plan of a car can be used to describe your own car by specifying the generic parts: body is sedan, engine is diesel, transmission is automatic... 

I recently proposed a single-page generic business architecture here that can be used as a reference. It is an extension to Porter's value chain concept from which support activities extract the governance (coordinates all other) and the development function. The reasons are becoming more clear today. Many companies, like Apple, do not manufacture their products in-house any longer, but solely develop, or design, them there. Development becomes, in many cases, the core activity today, parting with a past when product delivery was core. 

Also, governance is the only function that forms and identifies an enterprise when all development, manufacturing, sales, services and support functions have been outsourced. This is the new Intelligent enterprise the outsourcing trend pushes us to, where the entrepreneurial team plans and coordinates all activities in the value system, professionally performed by specialized firms. But even if a company does not develop, manufacture and sell the products any longer, it (the governance function) still has to orchestrate the overall activity, deliveries, sales and financials. 

The singl- page GODS generic model consists of functions and flows (capabilities and value streams) in interconnection.

How could this generic business architecture model be used as reference? 

  • Select the key business functions (and add/remove them) that represent your enterprise. 
  • Customize business flows (market, plan, produce, deliver, sale, service, borrow, recruit, manage IT ...). 
  • Proceed with the next level of decomposition, in iterations, to describe for both functions and flows. For that, you may get inspiration from one of the process frameworks in existence (APQC, VRM, eTOM...), since they aim to list most key process in an enterprise.
  • Then you may want to continue to develop the EA at this stage
That being said, a reference architecture is not an EA framework (more about that in the next post). TOGAF and Zachman are supposed to be frameworks, as opposed to reference architectures. In truth, they are not really frameworks, but a development process and respectively, analytical thinking method.

The book "An Enterprise Architecture Development Framework", now available as an Amazon Kindle e-book, describes reference business, information and IT architectures (i.e., templates) and organization reference designs. A novel EA frameworks binds them all to enable navigation for impact analysis, business process improvement.

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Adrian Grigoriu blogs about everything relating to enterprise and business architecture, SOA, frameworks, design, planning, execution, organization and related issues.

Adrian Grigoriu

Adrian is an executive consultant in enterprise architecture, former head of enterprise architecture at Ofcom, the spectrum and broadcasting U.K. regulatory agency and chief architect at TM Forum, an organization providing a reference integrated business architecture framework, best practices and standards for the telecommunications and digital media industries. He also was a high technology, enterprise architecture and strategy senior manager at Accenture and Vodafone, and a principal consultant and lead architect at Qantas, Logica, Lucent Bell Labs and Nokia. He is the author of two books on enterprise architecture development available on Kindle and published articles with BPTrends, the Microsoft Architecture Journal and the EI magazine. Shortlisted by Computer Weekly for the IT Industry blogger of the year 2011.

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