Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Should there be one, none or more Enterprise Architecture frameworks?

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In EA, we came to the rather original situation where everybody has his own EA approach and there are more frameworks than we can count.

How many frameworks does one need though to design, document develop the same system and achieve same results? Ideally one. In practice, two or three perhaps, at least until the domain matures. 

If more than that, we cannot call them any longer frameworks for that specific purpose, that is EA frameworks.
In fact, neither Zachman nor TOGAF are specific to EA.

Currently, most professionals don't use any specific framework; that is, we use bits and pieces of knowledge from everywhere and anywhere: Zachman, TOGAF... Value Chains, business models, operating models, balanced score cards, process frameworks, all kind of business methods, ITIL, COBIT... 

Hence, some may even say that they don't need no frameworks. True. As long as the academia and the big firms cannot come with anything good, what can the practitioners do when there is such a demand for EA? 

The one good framework should incorporate all the knowledge and experience in a discipline with consistency and without conflicts, overlaps... 

 Without this framework, our volume of work would significantly increase and the results won't be similar, predictable or to expectations. 

Each project is different. Yet  we have the same project management method or framework. One has to use indeed own experience as well, on top of that.

Each enterprise has a product make and delivery function, a product development one, an HR, Finance and pretty much the same processes for accounting, payroll, marketing, sales, services...
Plenty of commonality as such between enterprises. That would be described by a business architecture framework like GODS. And that is why SAP is in business.

Besides an EA framework like FFLV describes how (work)Flows, Functions, Layers (technology and people) and stakeholders' View entities relate to each other in various artefacts and fit the EA whole. They can only link in one way. Hence, the EA metamodel is the same for all enterprises.  

Yet, any framework would do, even TOGAF, if the only criteria is to satisfy the requirements of the job. 
 The fact of the matter is that the EA is the blueprint of the enterprise, nothing else. How it is used by strategists, operations etc is a distinct matter. As such, to my mind, the the requirements are the same for all EAs and EA frameworks but different for various stakeholders that use the EA, depending on the problem they solve and the domain. 

Nevertheless, in practice, due to lack of definition, scope and the wide variability of EA job descriptions and expectations (such as architecting a Java application for instance!) many other questions can be asked that can be relevant to the job at hand but not relevant to the EA production.

The problem with EA is that not only it is inconsistently defined but there is a real distinction between what we think of it and what is demanded or performed in reality.

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I am afraid my stance on frameworks is a bit different. I think there is only one framework: the one that is in place in the enterprise.
Of course there are other frameworks, but as architects we too often make the mistake of adopting frameworks wholesale, which is too much to handle. Think of external frameworks as potential contributors to your framework, and harvest parsimoniously. Each enterprise is different, and really needs to think seriously about what to adopt and how.

Rob,
I added my response in the text since your view is quite commonly held.

When using EA to "re-architect" the enterprise, I don't start with TOGAF, ITIL, SOA, or any of these. I determine if the organization is able and equipped to re-Architect. Do they have a strong and defined way to drive or guide the enterprise toward an Architecture. Is there a program that is good at transformation, that drives the effectiveness, efficiency, agility and durability of the organization.

By this I mean, seems pointless to simply pick a framework out and hope it helps. Or fill it out and think your organization will be changed. You must ready the enterprise to make architectural decisions, which by the way come before any changes. Bit like a caterpiller spinning a cocoon, showing it off and hoping something transforms. You must be in the cocoon for transformation to occur. Then fly away not walk.

Carl Engel,
Frameworks structure the accumulated domain knowledge and experience.
That known frameworks fail to help is clear. But We should not refuse to use frameworks, in general, because otherwise, you would have to start from scratch each and every time.

Even an own approach has to have some method behind, that may become a framework once mature, because it has to be repeatable and provide predictable results.

In any case, SOA is not a method, ITIL covers only the IT department and TOGAF is what it is. Hence I can understand that you cannot re-architect the enterprise. Very few EAs have that remit today anyhow.

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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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