Sunday, May 29, 2005

Zachman's EA Framework - The Holy Grail of the Enterprise Architect

For those of you heavily involved in Enterprise Architecture, you will be familiar with John Zachman and his EA Framework. This framework came out of his research whilst at IBM eons ago and still holds very true to this very day. The problem has always been with implementation.

Quick primer on Zachman's Framework. Zachman basically uses the Interrogatives of Why (Motivation), How (Function), When (Time), Where (Netwok), Who (People/Org) and What (Data). Each set comes from different perspectives which he has classified as "Planner", "Owner", "Designer", "Builder", "Subcontractor" and "Detailed Representation". The whole framework is represented as a matrix of 6 rows (Perspectives) by 6 columns (the interrogatives) and each cell represents a complete model for that interrogatives and perpective. For example, the Designer/What cell would represent a complete logical model for the enterprise.

This is all well and said. "So what?", you may ask. Think about it. Let's assumed that somehow you have managed to document all cells in the matrix. Now you have a fully documented knowledge base of your enterprise. Say, you want to know how adding another location would impact the organization, you can plug in the new location and actually be able to tell what processes/procedures/systems would require changes to incorporate this new addition. You can also use this as a training aid. For example, a new employee could query the How column and be able to get information on each business process/function and associated procedures. Each of this is supported by the motivation of Why it needed to be done.

Why would this be the Holy Grail? Well, in all the years that Zachman has been preaching this framework, there is yet an organization that has fully implement the Framework. That's the key...there is no easy way to implement and all organizations are doing it piece-meal which takes a lot of effort and resources but for those organizations who are beginning to recognize the value, they are way ahead of the curve and their competition.

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