6 reasons why you should be using ArchiMate

Managing Organisational Change


In order to change something you need information about it. The more complicated the thing and the bigger the change, the more information you need. To change a large organisation you need potentially a lot of information and you need to be able to ask tough questions of that data. In order to do this the information needs to be structured in the right way. This article describes such a language - the standard language from the Open Group known as ArchiMate.®

ArchiMate is a structured language comprising standardised terms and a graphical notation that catalogs the assets of the enterprise and their relationships in terms of business, applications. Traditionally we would gather information in an unstructured way using word processor documents and presentations which is difficult to analyse. With ArchiMate and when combined with a modelling tool we can ask questions of the data and get answers.
 
1. A picture speaks a thousand words
 
Poor Requirements example

 

We all find it easier to comprehend pictures than long sprawling sentences. If you are looking at a notation that is familiar and standard then you can understand a lot of information with little effort. Out of all the languages for modelling the architecture of an enterprise ArchiMate is the only one that includes a graphical notation.

2. A Unified Language
The ability to communicate is vital to any organization, different parts of the enterprise need to communicate requirements and solutions with clarity and without misunderstanding. If the language used is both precise and versatile then communication can occur without equivocation or error. Most organizations communicate in local dialects - one department using terms that are unfamiliar or even unintelligible to other departments. For an organization to function harmoniously, a universal language that all departments can speak is necessary. When we talk about the Business/IT divide, we are often talking about the difficulty in communication between these two areas.
ArchiMate contains the necessary language constructs to allow business and IT departments to converse in terms they can both understand.

3. Precision and completeness
Most organizations will compile information about the enterprise in an unstructured form, by writing documents and using statements such as "Our sellers will sell products to our clients". In this form there is no markup or metadata; we do not define what the words mean and assume that the reader will understand them. In a simple sentence like this, we would assume that both "Seller" and "Client" are Organizational Units, and "sell products" is a Business Process. However, there is already doubt about the precision of that statement. Does it mean that only sales people can sell to our clients or does the statement mean that anyone performing the role of "seller" can perform that process? Also is the "seller" a human being or an application?
A structured language such as ArchiMate contains the necessary precision and markup to make this statement unambiguous. There are rules on what can be connected to what. The statement "The Business Service
'credit checking service' uses a Node  ‘IBM Blade Server’" makes no sense, you can’t place a Business Service directly onto a server. A Business Service could comprise some Business Processes which could be performed by some Applications which may sit on a Node, and thus ArchiMate wouldn't allow you to make a direct link. The rules and structure of ArchiMate ensures that no information is missing, or if it is missing then it is clearly shown as so. In this example we can state that there is an indirect relationship or exactly how the Business Service 'credit checking service' uses a Node  ‘IBM Blade Server’ via the pieces in between.

4. Actionable Architecture

Information stored as words on paper, in a word processing tool or as pictures in a drawing tool tends to be unstructured. In this form the information is hard to question, hard to analyse, and extremely impractical to enforce rules around. Conversely, structured information (contained within modelling tools) allow us to look at the information piece by piece and produce views on the information to solve various problems or questions. A good modelling tool should be able to output the information in document form but should also be able to perform impact analyses.
We may have recorded that a business process (sell products), is performed by a role (seller), which can be assigned to organizational units, (Sales Manager, Sales Representative), but can we then find out which other roles the "Sales Manager" performs and in which processes? Or find out which applications are required for those processes, and what information they will need access to?
Being able to slice and dice the information from different directions and view in different ways allows us to perform techniques such as heat mapping, e.g. locating in your business service landscape which services are supported by applications of high cost.
Storing information about your enterprise as ArchiMate models within a capable modelling tool will bring that information to life.


5. Reducing Training

Standard languages mean less training. With a proprietary language, we need to teach newcomers its specific rules and structures. Many modelling projects I have seen have wasted many hours on debates around the syntax of the language.
Perhaps one day, when ArchiMate is taught in school, all employees will be able to speak the corporate language without any additional training.


6. TOGAF support
If you are committed to TOGAF as a method for Enterprise Architecture then you should consider the use of ArchiMate. The Open Group, who are the primary endorsers and guardians of the standard, have stated that the next version of TOGAF will use ArchiMate as the default language used throughout the ADM process.