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BOOK - Enterprise Architecture - A Pragmatic Approach Using PEAF

 









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“Tools are expensive and cost a lot to procure and maintain, can’t I just use Excel and Visio?”

This is a common question. The answer is - it depends!

Our Enterprise today is more complex than it has ever been, both in terms of the Enterprise Structure (Methods, Artefacts, Culture, Environment) and the Enterprise Context it exists within (suppliers, customer, outsourcers, media, legislation, competitors, etc, etc).

In addition we are constantly changing, Transforming either to outside events or by the Board constantly searching for ways to improve the Enterprise.

A basic rule of thumb is that, if you are going to change something, you first must understand the thing you are changing and how changing one part may affect other parts in potentially unwanted or surprising ways.

Therefore, in this environment of constant change and complexity it is important for us to understand the structure of the Enterprise (a description of its parts, but more importantly the complex relationships between those parts) so that when one part changes the people involved in Strategising, Roadmapping and Project Governance, can see how that may affect other parts.

In order for us to properly collect, manage, and use the information, a tool is required.

It is imperative that all the entities and their associated attributes be gathered together in one place so that there is one version of the truth and so that relationships between these attributes can be defined.

The driving force, therefore, behind the use of a tool is to reduce and minimize the maintenance and management overhead of a no tool based (manual) approach.

Whilst initially a custom EA tool may not be required, there comes a time where the amount of time it takes us to maintain the information increases to unacceptable levels and our ability to use the information decreases to unacceptable levels.

Most Enterprises have already reached (and gone past!) this tipping point

There are 3 basic types of tools that we could use with various pros and cons:

Visio + Excel

This entails using Visio diagrams and separate Excel spreadsheets with no linkage between them.

¨      In terms of Training Requirements - there are none, as most people already know how to use Visio and Excel, and if some finer points are not known, there is a huge amount of free resources on the internet.

¨      In terms of managing the consistency of entity information between Visio and Excel - the maintenance is purely manual. Diagrams have to be drawn manually and changing something in one application means a manual change needs to be made in the other.

¨      In terms of managing the consistency of relationship information between Visio and Excel - the maintenance is purely manual.

¨      In terms of cost – they are minimal as most Enterprises already have Visio and Excel licenses, and if more need to be acquired the costs are very low.

Visio + Database

This entails using Visio diagrams linked to a separate Database (SQL Server, Access, Excel).

¨      In terms of Training Requirements - some maybe needed around Database and Visio data linkage and around the use of DataGraphics.

¨      In terms of managing the consistency of entity information between Visio and Excel - the maintenance is automatic.

¨      In terms of managing the consistency of relationship information between Visio and a Database - the maintenance is purely manual.

¨      In terms of cost – they are small as most Enterprises already have Visio and Excel and Access licenses, although they may need to be upgraded.

Custom tool

This entails using a custom EA Modelling Tool.

¨      In terms of Training Requirements – extensive training is required to ensure the tool is being used effectively and efficiently.

¨      In terms of managing the consistency of entity information – this is automatic.

¨      In terms of managing the consistency of relationship information – this is automatic.

¨      In terms of cost – Medium to high. Possible initial cost of $40k+, with subsequent costs dependent upon the size of the Enterprise and the number of users.

 

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Questions to ponder...

Which of these three types does or has your Enterprise used?

What were the pros and cons of them?


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