Using VPEC-T and ArchiMate

10 July 2010

I have recently finished reading the book ‘Lost on Translation’ by Nigel Green and Carl Bate and found it a very useful and insightful. I recommend it for the shelf of any Enterprise Architect. See http://www.lithandbook.com/

The book describes the VPEC-T ‘thinking framework’ and a focus on understanding the Values, Policies, Events, Content and Trust perspectives and provides a useful language to use when speaking with the business about any strategic change.

Being keen advocate of using Archimate (http://tinyurl.com/cf3z25) for developing Enterprise Architecture models, it struck me the next step after a VPEC-T based conversation would be to write up the outcomes in an Archimate model.

So what is there in Archimate that would be useful?

The first thing I noticed is that more or less all of the Business Layer meta model concepts in ArchiMate are in scope for VPEC-T and the Application Layer and Technology Layer are not.

ArchiMate Business Layer Meta Model

That’s not to say that VPEC-T wouldn’t be useful for the application and technology layers, but it seems to be naturally focused on the Business Architecture side of things to me at the moment.

So how does VPEC-T map to ArchiMate concepts?

V = Values

The obvious first Archimate concept to use here is ‘Value‘.

ArchiMate users don’t use Value as much as they should in their models in my opinion. Using VPEC-T will correct that.

ArchiMate defines Value as that which makes some party (represented by Business Actor, Business Role) appreciate a Business Product and/or associated Business Services that they are buying, using or acquiring.

Value in this sense is also associated with a value chain (which is modelled in terms of a sequence of Business Processes and Business Activities that provide a Value).

I would also use the ArchiMate concept of Meaning.

Archimate defines Meaning as knowledge or expertise present in the representation of a Business Object, given a particular context. I would use Meaning to represent the inherent shared knowledge or value system that users have as their mental model.

P = Policies

There is no ArchiMate concept for Policy as such in the 1.0 specification but a number of EA tools that support ArchiMate do support it.

I would generally use the ArchiMate concepts of Business Function, Business Process to represent aspects of Policy. These should be used with care though, such as more in the sense of Business Rules, Guidelines, Policies, than with the normal meanings of Business Function and Business Process.

I would also use the ArchiMate concept Business Object, to represent Strategies, Goals, Objectives, Business Decisions,

In the conversation about Policies would be a focus on the Target Business [Operating] Model, in terms of what Business Product and Business Services would be sold or provided to what customer segments, i.e. Business Roles. This overlaps a bit with how one would represent a Business Model in ArchiMate which will be the subject of a future blog entry.

E = Events

The obvious Archimate concept to use here is a Business Event.

This is a key concept, and it seems especially obvious to use it in a message and service driven architectures, but it’s curious how infrequently it is actually used in most of the BPMN style models I have seen people develop.

I first started modelling with Events using IDS Scheer’s ARIS tool in 1998 and the power of an event driven approach has stayed with me ever since.

Business Events are used to trigger a value chain that results in an outcome that has Value.

Value chains are modelled using s sequence of Business Process and Business Activity and outcome of a value chain is represented with a Business Object, Business Product, Business Service associated with a Value.

Since Business Events occur via various channels, it might also be useful use the ArchiMate concept of Business Interface (representing a Channel) in your VPEC-T model, but that is a bit like solution design so is optional.

C = Content

Archimate can be used to model Content at several different levels of knowledge, information and data.

The Meaning object is used to represent knowledge, the Business Object for business information, the Data Object for data, the Representation object for the physical representation of information and the Artifact object for the physical storage of data.

In a VPEC-T model created with ArchiMate, I would mainly use the Meaning, Representation and Business Object concepts.

T= Trust

To me Trust is all about relationships, interactions and collaborations between people.

I would use the ArchiMate concept of Business Actor, representing an organisation, organisation unit or a person, and the concept of Business Role, representing the roles played by those organisations, organisation units or persons in relation to others.

For the trust relationships I would use the ArchiMate concept of Business Collaboration and Business Interaction. These don’t get used in many Archimate models but I think they are useful for representing aspects of Trust relationships.

A Business Collaboration is defined in ArchiMate as a (temporary) configuration of two or more business roles resulting in specific collective behaviour in a particular context.

A Business Interaction is defined as a unit of behaviour performed as a collaboration of two or more business roles.

I would also use the Archimate concept Contract to represent a Trust agreement (such as a Service Level Agreement) between parties.

ArchiMate concepts for VPEC-T models

Overall for doing Enterprise Architecture, I recommend using a ‘thinking framework’ such as VPEC-T first and then an Enterprise Architecture framework and modelling language such as ArchiMate second.

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