The Layers of the Enterprise

Coherency Management is build upon the idea that the system based on the idea that there are several layers in an organization. Layers that can vary from one another and that has to be aligned to make the organization to gain more (or simply work smarter).

Zachman (2005) has traditionally made use of his framework for changing these layers and he among others have established the platform for Enterprise Architecture; However the problem with the Zachman framework is that it can be identified as a method within the functionalist paradigm.

The functionalist paradigm (Burrell & Morgan, 1979) is known for its un-nuanced view on how people and systsems interact and can therefore by a threat (or a source of explanation) for why many IT related and organization related projects fail.

Doucet et al (2009) uses a view on the layers of the process which is based on Zachman’s framework which indicates a functionalist view of the organization. However it is notable that every organization has an architecture (the EA point of view) which indicates that there are several layers which the Coherency Architect has to work with to be able to propose coherent plans.

The first layer is the technical architecture. The technical layer consists of the servers, the computers and the network infrastructure that enables the applications to perform their tasks.

The second layer is the application architecture and is build upon the technical architecture. This layer deals with the applications (software) the organization make use of to provide the various business processes with the useable software. It is also the application that supports the transformation of data into information.

The third layer is the information architecture and is build upon the application architecture. The information architecture deals with how the data is archived, handled and maintained in the enterprise. This means that the layer contains the nerve of the enterprise. If the enterprise is not able to handle the information within it then it is likely the organization will go out of business. Information is gold in the time of the information economy.

The fourth layer is the business process architecture and is build upon the information architecture. The business processes can only be executed if the members of the organization who work with the particular processes are able to understand how the system work.

The fifth layer is the business architecture and is build on top of business process architecture.
The Business Architecture consist mainly of how the organization is designed e.g., the organization chart, the description of responsibilities and thereby who are accountable for what processes and what outcome of the various systems. It is obvious that this layer is depending on the layers beneath it like a pyramid.

Analysis Part

How can the Coherency Architect make use of the layers to implement coherency in the organization? The Coherency Architect has to view the organization as a system which in a way is fragmented and in another way can work independent of the each other. To make the an organization coherent in its decision making then the Coherency Architect has to uncover the various layers to identify potential elements that creates bottlenecks or other negative influence on the total architecture of the system works. The organization can of not be autonomous of its surroundings and therefore should impacts from the market, customers, technologies developed and supplied by suppliers be analyzed.

Any bottlenecks that have been identified have to be analyzed and a solution including a plan for implementation should be articulated and put into “the pipeline” (the pipeline is innovation related and will be handled in a future blog post).

When the organization is changing then the layers of the organization will be changing to and that will lead a need for a new analysis of the architecture of the organization.

It is therefore not a single project to implement Coherency Management. It should be understood as a continuous program to identify and develop the the Business Architecture and the underlying architectures.

The first obstacle the Coherency Architect will face when he or she will start the work on identifying the current layers and the general architecture of the organization will be that the documentation the organization has developed for themselves is outdated and the Coherency Architect has to go through all the four layers to create his or her own view on how the organization architecture is.

The Coherency Architect should therefore be prepared to invest a lot of the time of the first Coherency Project on investigating the layers and the general architecture of the organization and then keep updating his or her view on the situation during the entire project period.


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

* Gibson Burrell and Gareth Morgan, “Sociological Paradigms and

Organisational Analysis – Elements of the Sociology of Corporate Life,” in (Heineman, 1979).


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