Increasingly I’m hearing architects talking about their frustration with the popular architecture frameworks.
The problem is that frameworks such as TOGAF, Zachman and others are not easy to use in a practical day-to-day way to manage enterprise architecture. Architects are not saying that TOGAF or Zachman are useless – they each document much current thinking about EA.
So what is the problem? It is that Enterprise Architecture is a discipline that covers several dimensions. Various studies have shown that there are at least eight factors that need to be covered by EA if it is to be effective. And the problem is that it is impossible to visualize or use eight dimensions all at the same time. The Zachman Framework doesn’t cover all of the eight factors, but it remains difficult to grasp because it attempts to show more than two dimensions in one diagram. TOGAF has recognized this problem, by providing, in effect, a framework of frameworks!
What’s the solution to this dilemma? Well TOGAF has said all along that you need to customize and adapt the material it provides to meet the precise needs of a specific enterprise. In particular this includes customizing the architecture framework itself.
Here are three simple steps to resolve this:
- Remember that EA is multi-dimensional, but it is only really practical to work with one or two of these dimensions at a time. So start by figuring out which factors you need to work with and why they are relevant.
- Create multiple frameworks to meet your needs. Remember to restrict each framework to one or two dimensions. For example, an Architecture Content Framework will typically use Categories and Understanding as its two factors.
- Base each framework on a common set of factors, and use a common checklist of values, levels or types for each factor. That way it will result in an multiple integrated architecture frameworks.
The result – not a single framework that attempts to portray every dimension at once, but a set of Multiple Integrated Architecture Frameworks (MIAF).
Does it matter which Architecture Framework we use?