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Trends in Enterprise Architecture (Part 1) EA Frameworks – An Overview

Part one of a four part series discussing Enterprise Architecture Frameworks. Part one gives an overview of Enterprise Architecture, and looks at some of the main frameworks in use today.

Good communication and a structure that enables smooth operations is essential for businesses, particularly in times of uncertainty and change. When this isn’t the case, small issues can turn into much bigger ones very quickly.

With the help of an Enterprise Architecture (EA) framework, this can be avoided.

What is Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise Architecture is something that should underpin your approach to business transformation and technology and service integration. It’s a method of carrying out enterprise analysis, design, planning, and implementation, which enables the successful development and execution of business strategy.

Perhaps most important in this digital era is the fact that enterprise architecture frameworks can help safeguard against issues like information silos and business risks associated with IT investments. Modern IT systems can be incredibly complex; enterprise architecture can help mitigate these complexities and allow businesses to get true value from their systems.

It follows that as IT is such a core part of any modern business, a framework that can help manage this can offer incredible benefits.

The Main Enterprise Architecture Frameworks

It could be said that there are four ‘main’ types of Enterprise Architecture Frameworks, as well as other types which include more industry-specific versions.

Each of these four systems has been in use for over a decade (at least!) and each has their own strengths and weaknesses.

The Open Group Architectural Framework

The Open Group Architectural Framework, or TOGAF, is one of the most commonly used framework structures in business today, accounting for over 80% of business framework structures.

It was developed in 1995 by The Open Group, and consists of a clear set of rules on organisational development which are designed to help large organisations achieve their development goals in a fast, cost-effective manner, using a specific and clearly defined business vocabulary.

TOGAF as a framework offers guidance on how an enterprise can create, interpret, analyse, and make use of different elements within a single strategy. Overall, it promotes simple and improved communication between departments, reducing the risks of errors.

It could also be considered as a sort of ‘engine’ as well as a powerful framework, allowing for the possibility of creating independent architecture – also known as the Architectural Development Method (ADM).

The Zachman Framework

The Zachman Framework was developed in 1987 by John Zachman to help solve the issues faced by IT-driven businesses. In short, it’s a type of matrix for managing Enterprise Architecture in your company, using a36-cell matrix to help with organisation and insight.

The columns in this matrix outline the fundamental questions surrounding the architecture in question (who, what, where, and so on), while the rows represent the opinions of each type of stakeholder involved. The finished matrix is then filled in with processes, information and rules associated with the project, based on the question and perspective associated with each cell.

You can see examples of practical applications of the TOGAF and Zachman Enterprise Architecture techniques here.

Federal Enterprise Architectural Framework

The Federal Enterprise Architectural Framework is one of the newer frameworks. It was developed by the US government in 1999, as the foundation for a significant high-end governmental restructure. It’s often considered a ‘best of both’ approach, combining elements of both the Zachman Framework and TOGAF.

This framework provides tools to help government planners implement a common language and framework to describe and analyse investments. It consists of a group of reference models that cover six sub-architecture domains – strategy, business data, applications, infrastructure, and security.

These help enable cross-agency analysis and allow issues with investments (as well as gaps and opportunities for collaboration) to be identified within and across agencies. Solid enterprise infrastructure is critical to the government, which is why this framework was created, and is continually being tweaked and perfected.

Gartner

The last framework, Gartner, differs from the previous three. Created by the well-known company of the same name, the Gartner model focuses on the ability of businesses to adapt to the environment around them.

The Gartner model helps influence and support the decisions made by organisations as they plan for their future – evaluating the company’s current state, identifying the most prudent investments in technology and procedures to reach the desired future state, and navigating the company through the transition.

Join me for part two of this series, discussing changes in Enterprise Architecture (including those transformations resulting from digital disruption and the pandemic).

If you’d like to find out more about Monro Consulting’s Enterprise Architecture service then please do get in touch – even if it’s just for an informal chat to get a feel for your options.