Developing Frameworks: Five Things To Do and Five Things To Avoid.

The Essentials

While working with the concept of Enterprise Architecture it usually becomes a necessity to chose and implement a framework. As such the chief architect can either implement a standard framework, and as such commence the project of documenting the AS – IS situation1. It is an option to adapt the standard framework in order to make it suitable for the enterprise as such make it work better in the implementation process. An alternative to deal with a standard framework the chief architect could develop his or her own framework that from the start has been developed in mind to the specific enterprise. This specific paper is dealing with some pitfalls that I have identified while I have been working with developing a framework by myself.

I will first and foremost outline my definition of what a framework is, then I will deal with which five problems I have encountered and how these problems can be avoided. As such this will become a list of dos and don’ts. Finally I will summarize my findings in a conclusion.

What is a Framework

There are several reasons to apply a framework e.g. the potential of increasing the success rate of the implementation of the Enterprise Architecture program, and as such I have chosen to go in depth with a definition of what I think a framework is about.
I have defined the concept of the Enterprise Architecture framework as essentially a document that outlines which artifacts the chief architect and the Enterprise Architecture group should be identifying, describing and organizing into a repository. Thereto does the framework defines which roles that are supposed to be in the Enterprise Architecture group and how the AS-IS state should be documented. Likewise does the framework details how the scenarios deals with the process of change from the AS – IS situation to a desired TO-BE situation. In between these two it usually a good idea to have a transition plan (Bernard 2005, p. 33).

I have now defined how I understand the concept of the framework. The framework is a key element in order to implement an organized documented overview of the AS – IS situation of the enterprise.

Problems and Solutions

The chief architect should include stakeholders for its internal environment in order to gain an understanding of how they understand the enterprise’s social systems, business systems and information systems. As such the chief architect would have to gain an understanding of how each of the parts of the enterprise works and how these systems interact with one another.

The framework should reflect the organization since it would have to reflect the current conditions yet the framework would have to be used as common reference model for the Enterprise Architecture group. Eventually should the framework be adaptable to filters in order to give the various stakeholders the information that they would need in order to ensure buy-in and support for the changes needed in order to transform the enterprise to the desired state.

While developing the framework the chief architect shouldn’t make the framework too complex in order to the level of details and the language used. Likewise should the chief architect be aware of that the repositories that he choses should be dynamic due to the possible rapid changes in the architecture of the enterprise while the organizational changes are occurring. I am of the opinion that organizations changes more rapidly than the decision makers realizes since people changes habits and their ways to deal with certain tasks due to the changes in their (and thereby the enterprise’s environment). I have come this particular opinion due to an article I have read by Orton and Weick (1990) where Orton & Weick argues that there are several voices of loosely coupling, and one of these voices (the voice of typology) deals with the fragmented environment impacts the possibility to enforce change onto the social systems (Orton & Weick 1990, pp. 207-210) due to connections and impacts of the internal and external environments will in some points stop a centrally planned change.
It is a necessity to avoid rigidity and too much bureaucracy so to say the chief architect would have to avoid creating a paper tiger. It is one of the major problems with Enterprise Architecture , and Wagter et al. (2005, p. 178) discusses in their book titled “Dynamic Enterprise Architecture”. Likewise does Wagter et al. discusses the concept of implementing Enterprise Architecture in small steps and small sections due to the unnecessary usage of the enterprise’s resources in implementing a system in a world where all resources should be contributing to the enterprise’s competitive advantage.

Dos and Don’ts

In order to give the various chief architects or other individuals in the Enterprise Architecture groups in the enterprises out in the industries, I have articulated five things to do order to develop a good framework. Likewise have I articulated a list of five pitfalls that the chief architect or others in the Enterprise Architecture group should avoid in order to implement a successful framework.

Dos

Don’ts

1) Do include stakeholders in the development of the framework.

1) Don’t focus too much on the technical architecture while you develop your framework.

2) Do work with both social systems, business processes and IT.

2) Don’t assume that the framework can be used for a total codification of knowledge in the enterprise.

3) Do work with the business architecture. After all it is the enterprise’s business systems that generates value.

3) Don’t assume that the framework is perfect after you have designed it at the desk. The framework has to be improved during the implementation and after the implementation since new stuff and perspectives will occur.

4) Do work with an approach to keep the framework simple.

4) Don’t assume that people align themselves with a centrally planned strategy. Assume that the organization consists of many different entities that can be impacted by elements outside the organization’s boundary.

5) Do work with the stakeholders understanding of what the framework is and why it is important.

5) Don’t develop a “paper tiger” it makes no sense to develop at lot documents that nobody reads or acts according to.

Which leads to the conclusion of this paper.

Conclusions

A framework is a fundamental element that the chief architect and the decision makers of the enterprise have to be involved with in order to ensure that the Enterprise Architecture program can be implemented in the enterprise. As such there are five things that the chief architect should take into consideration while developing his action plan e.g. Include the stakeholders in the development of the framework, the inclusion of business and IT, the business architecture is the primary architecture, keep the framework simple and ensure that the stakeholders understand what the framework is about and why it is important. Likewise are there five pitfalls that the chief architect has to take into consideration while he develops on the framework e.g. avoid to focus too much on the technical architecture, he shouldn’t assume that the framework is a Swiss army knife in regards to knowledge sharing, he shouldn’t think that the framework is perfect, especially pre-implementation, he shouldn’t believe that people just align themselves with planes developed by a central administration and last but certainly not least. The chief architect shouldn’t develop a paper tiger.

The keyword to framework development is simplicity, prototyping and iterative change.

Bibliography

Bernard, S., A., 2005. An Introduction To Enterprise Architecture: Second Edition 2nd ed., AuthorHouse.
J. D Orton and K. E Weick, “Loosely coupled systems: A reconceptualization,” The Academy of Management Review 15, no. 2 (1990): 203–223.

Roel Wagter et al., Dynamic Enterprise Architecture: How to Make It Work, 1st ed. (Wiley, 2005).

1The situation as it is in the current moment.

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