So with time, I am starting to get depressed on the status of enterprise architecture. What was hailed as a revolutionary approach to capturing the holistic view of the enterprise, is now a nightmare that everyone wants to run away from. Or at least, a manager has a business unit labeled with EA under his influence to show it off to his/her seniors that we are employing a complex business unit that is a rarity in the domain. And instead of the holistic view of the enterprise, you are most probably will be facing some derivative of TOGAF that is focusing endlessly on the AS-IS and with all of its artifacts and imagining some TO-BE architecture and duplicating the artifacts that were captured already with slight changes. And the end-result a wastage of time and resources and resentment by all of the people working near this EA unit.
But who guessed that The Open Group, the same ones that brought TOGAF, has proposed ArchiMate, a modeling language, that represent a very lightweight EA framework? Before talking about what I like about ArchiMate, let’s go back to the man himself who first coined the term Enterprise Architecture, John Zachman.
When Zachman first proposed the Enterprise Architecture, he stated that it is a framework representing the fundamental structure of Enterprise Architecture. Or in other terms, an EA is an ontology of the organization. So you want to know how one thing is connected in the grand scheme of things. That was impossible with TOGAF in its purest form, and even with specialized tools, it is very hectic to have one view showing the enterprise-as-a-whole.
So what ArchiMate has to do with the previous paragraph, well it is a straightforward graphical modeling language that captures 80% of the business components and artifacts (well that is what The Open Group claims) that ensures the simplicity and practicality of modeling the enterprise. So, what does it to have with the EA? Well in its current form, ArchiMate can be fully utilized to capture the ontology of the enterprise and its behavior. Just as an example, the following is a simple model that captures the need for an ERP system:
In this simple, yet flimsy, model you could trigger precisely what are the motivation of the key stakeholder along with the course of account taken into consideration (Sparx EA didn’t allowed me to model some relations due to its inconstancy with the metamodel). So both of the CIO and CFO are looking into information consistency while the CFO has more drivers that translate into increasing the profitability of the enterprise. Now both of these drivers cascades into optimizing the different business units through a course of action and that is acquiring an ERP solution. This course of action will need to build the ERP capability that requires resources related to an IT Staff, ERP consultants, and ERP licenses.
Now, this diagram only touches two layers of ArchiMate that are concerned with enterprise aspirations and strategies. There are still layers for the business, application, technology, and the changes (or projects) which can be exploited to complement the view of any change. And while we are at it, I always suggest ArchiMate as the best approach to develop a solution architecture since it captures much of the changes required by any technical solution and is easily understandable by businesspeople.
Having such a model whenever there is change and including it into a central repository can develop such a great resource in capturing and understanding the complete picture of the enterprise. It might not be perfect but will ease the understanding of how to look and assess the enterprise as an actual whole.