Bridging TOGAF's architecture domains

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The Open Group Architecture Framework, like other frameworks, has several standards for enterprise architecture at its core, including TOGAF (a diagramming and notational standard) and ArchiMate (a standard for modeling tools). TOGAF provides a process for developing and implementing enterprise architectures, which is called the Architecture Development Method (ADM). TOGAF also provides viewpoints, techniques, and reference models drawn from a content framework which demonstrates using each building blocks that are expected to be employed in documenting an enterprise architecture definition.

While the Open Group reports that TOGAF is being used by 80% of Global 50 businesses, skeptics have questioned what level of benefits can actually be achieved by adopting such a framework out of the box. Because of the subjective nature of TOGAF's guidance, it can be difficult to isolate issues which are intrinsic to the framework itself from problems which are common to those applying this framework for developing a specific instance of an architecture definition.

TOGAF's architecture domains themselves are not the problem, as they are made up of Enterprise Architecture viewpoints that are typical of the information needed to orchestrate major IT transformation projects:

The promise and perils of Enterprise Architecture Frameworks

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Enterprise architectures shape the design of the businesses in an enterprise so a desired future state can be achieved. An Enterprise Architecture Frameworks is a type of conceptual framework that organizes the development, implementation, and sustainment of such architectures. There are quite a few frameworks, which are intended to guide the formation of architecture descriptions by:

  • defining a common vocabulary across structural architectural elements
  • establishing a repository for capturing and managing the content of these descriptions
  • leveraging methods for managing the elements and governance of these elements and their properties, to ensure they are fit for the purposes they are employed to accomplish, while assuring integration across their temporal, spatial, and functional dimensions.
  • prescribing the standards that are to be followed as these elements are implemented

Promising integration opportunities

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In an analysis of technology advances to manufacturing opportunities, McKinsey & Company describes the promise of potential benefits available from "currently demonstrated technologies", which they characterize as exhibiting "the level of performance and reliability needed to automate one or more of 18 capabilities involved in carrying out work activities. In some cases, that level of performance has been demonstrated through commercially available products, and in others through research projects." Their promise follows:

We emphasize that the potential for automation described above is created by adapting and integrating currently demonstrated technologies. Moreover, it is notable that recent technological advances have overcome many of the traditional limitations of robotics and automation. A new generation of robots that are more flexible and versatile, and cost far less, than those used in many manufacturing environments today can be “trained” by frontline staff to perform tasks previously thought to be too difficult for machines—tasks such as picking and packing irregularly spaced objects, and resolving wiring conflicts in large-scale projects in, for example, the aerospace industry. Artificial intelligence is also making major strides that are increasing the potential for automating work activities.

The essential characteristics of capabilities

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A capability is defined as that which provides the ability to achieve a desired effect under specified standards and conditions. Desired effects are measurable changes in the state of resources. These resources must be available to the set of activities which must be perform to achieve a particular course of action. Such courses of action provide the ingredients for an organization to pursue its mission, and for systems to implement their concepts of operation.

Different architectural frameworks have different interpretations for the concept of a capability. For example, the TOGAF framework uses the word 'capability' to delineate business capabilities for architectures, while using the concept of 'capability increments' in capability planning. In contrast, the DODAF framework uses the data model depicted in figure 1.

Architectures define how such capabilities should be resourced to achieve these desirable effects. This requires consideration of the system of interest's variety, mode, and mereology. Within the architecture, activities consume resources that are in one state, and produce resources that cause a transition to another state. Performers perform activities that change the state of resources. Performers do this under conditions that affect their performance. Performers do this by following guidance to perform tasks under specified conditions. All this can be measured, so the performance of an activity can be assessed against standards of performance. In architectural terms: tasks are activities, ways are guidance, means are performers, conditions are conditions, standards are a particular sort of guidance, and desired effects are changes in the states of resources.

Converging on useful solutions

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Figure 1

You can't always get what you want. But if you try, sometimes you find you get what you need.
- Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones

Product development efforts must balance risks and opportunities over time. To do that, each team must learn how to quickly deliver  a barely adequate, minimum viable product so that first mover advantages can be exploited. Any business that fails to achieve this target may not get another chance. Endeavors encounter trouble regardless of the direction of their miss, either by failing to provide sufficient value to their launch customers, or by accumulating excessive inventory valuation that ends up never being realized because they missed their delivery target.

Once offerings are placed into service, resources will need to be allocated to improve the quality and functionality of the product. These improvements become the focus of subsequent iterative cycles which will refine, shape, and extend the value of the solution for a broader range of customers. As figure 1 shows, the size of the batches packaging this value has a direct relationship to the holding costs for the business. These holding costs are a function of the availability of the information, material, and resources necessary for implementation.