Fundamental elements

Matthew Kern’s article on the fundamentals of (enterprise) architecture prompted me to refer back to an earlier phase in my approach to architecture where I provided a general framework for clients and outlined the key elements which would be used within the framework. This extends on my original article about the elements of architecture descriptions.

The framework is shown in the following diagram and broadly reflects the key domains that I still consider and address in any architectural assignment.

The key domains are as follows:

  • Business architecture – reflecting the full range of perspectives of an enterprise
  • Capability models – reflecting the capabilities established or needed to achieve the enterprise goals
  • Process models – reflecting the process perspective of an enterprise
  • Information models – reflecting the information perspective of an enterprise
  • Organisation models – reflecting the people & organisational perspective of an enterprise
  • Technical architecture – reflecting the full range of perspectives on the IT capabilities providing support to the business capabilities
  • Application models – reflecting the application systems perspective of an enterprise
  • Infrastructure models – reflecting the infrastructure perspective to supporting the applications used by an enterprise

The second component of the framework are the elements that are developed to reflect entities and relationships in and across each of the models. The elements which I develop are shown in the following diagram, reflecting their development as incremental extensions of the preceding elements. 

The features of each element are:

  • Foundation – entities in each domain (e.g. capability, process, person) compiled into an inventory of entities with relevant characteristics
  • Relationship – relationships between entities in different domains (e.g. Process consumes information, application supports process) compiled into matricesreflecting with the intersecting cells describing the relevant relationship
  • Condition – assessment of the current condition of an entity or relationship, shown as additional attributes of the owner and typically represented as a heat map
  • Composite – inter-relationship of two heat maps, potentially against two different assessment dimensions (e.g. Business suitability vs. technical viability of application), represented on a grid
  • Actionable – series of investment proposals for delivering new or improved capabilities, compiled as a roadmap

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