How to Identify Architectures?

Every organization has an architecture otherwise it wouldn’t be possible for the organization to do business or transform raw materials into products or labour power into services.

However the Coherency Architect has to focus on how to identify the architecture in a methodical way so the Coherency Architect can make develop a functional approach on how to define potential coherence related problems and how to mature the architecture so the organization will make progress and work in a smarter way to reach the goals of the organization (those defined in the official strategy).

To identify the various problems then the Soft Systems Methodology or the Work System Method which can be used to collect data about the architecture in a systematic way. If the Coherency Architect doesn’t make use of a systematic approach then it is likely that he or she will miss potential flaws, errors, dangers etc. that might have a great impact on how good the coherence of the organization is.

There are two general approaches the Coherency Architect can make use of to identify the processes in the organization. The first one is the so called exhaustive approach that deals with the Coherency Architect identify all the processes in the organization and create plans for them. The second one is called the “high – impact” approach that deals with that the Coherency Architect deals with identifying the core processes in the architecture (organization). To start with then it might be preferable for the Coherency Architect to deal with the core processes and then adapt the Coherency Program to alter them.

Besides the two above mentioned methodologies then the organization can make use of various techniques such as the rich picture and flowcharts to analyze how the various elements in the organization impact the general outcome of the organization.

An example of a functional approach to analyze an architecture could be that the Coherency Architect made use of a qualitative data collection method which means that the Coherency Architect would go an observe and interview potential members of the organization. The members have to be put located various places in the organization so the Coherency Architect can create the best overview of the organization as possible. When the first round of interviews have been collected and processed then Coherency Architect should go observe the members of the organization perform their daily tasks and identify how the raw materials are transformed into products or services. The Coherency Architect should especially focus on how the various linked processes interact use this view to identify potential problems with the coherency of the processes. When these problems have been identified then it is likely that the Coherency Architect should make use of either the SSM or the WSM methodologies. These methodologies are used to create an understanding of what is happening within the system. However it is notable that the two methodologies belongs to two different paradigms which view the world very differently.

The Work System Method belongs to the “functional paradigm” where the Soft Systems Methodology belongs to the “interpretive paradigm”. The two paradigms are defined by Burrell and Morgan (1979) in their article dealing with sociological paradigms and organizational analysis.
The functionalist paradigm works with the idea that the architect will collect the needed data and then come to a conclusion based on his or her own world view. The interpreting paradigm works with the idea that the architect has to facilitate the different world views in the organization and thereby assist the members of the organization with developing a solution e.g., a new work system, information system or a third solution.

The two paradigms will lead to various kinds of conclusions and of which there might be opposing. It is therefore vital that the Coherency Architect is able to identify the limits of his or her own world view and identify how the members of the organization thinks and acts according to their world views. If the Coherency Architect makes use of the wrong approach then his or her suggested solutions might turn out to be out of touch with how the organization assume its business works and the solution will be turned down.

When the Coherency Architect has gone through this process then he or she will be able to identify one of the three different forms of architecture an organization might have. As mentioned earlier then every organization has an architecture.

Doucet et al. (2009) identifies three possible architectures. The first one is the architecture of an organization before an EA (enterprise architecture) toolkits have been applied. The architecture is called the articulated architecture.

The more mature architecture is called extended architecture where the EA toolkits has been applied for the IT side and some of the processes at the business side has been identified and is making use of EA principles.

The most mature architecture is called the embedded architecture where the EA principles are embedded into every business and IT project. Doucet et al (2009) defines this state as where the EA grid is put into practice and where all project, processes and sides of the business work with practices from EA and therefore have achieved the goal of Coherency Management.

To summarize then the Coherency Architect has to focus on:

  1. The methodology used to collect data.
  2. The paradigm the Coherency Architect make use of to identify issues with the Coherency of the processes, structure, people, tasks and technology within the organization.
  3. The world view the Coherency Architect make use of when he or she develops his or her coherent solutions for the organization.
  4. The states of the architectures in the organization and how to reach them.


* Gary Doucet et al., Coherency Management: Architecting the Enterprise for Alignment, Agility and Assurance (International Enterprise Architecture Institute, 2009).

* Burrell, G., & Morgan, G. Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis (1979).


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