Enterprise Architecture is much more than a list of components. Too often one sees diagrams in slide decks that are either simple lists, a layered view of domains, or a graphical hierarchy. And these are supposed to represent the ‘Architecture’?

These visualisations are good to use to inform on the scope and context, but they really only tell us half the story.

The various components (building blocks in TOGAF) will all have a large variety of connections between them to other components. It is these connections that in fact provide the value of an enterprise architecture model, and cement everything together.
An Enterprise Architecture model is a graph of connections. The information and knowledge created in the enterprise architecture model can be viewed from many perspectives and needs to satisfy many stakeholders. Everything is dependent on everything else, and everything is connected in multiple ways. Components never exist in isolation.

An enterprise architecture model is holistic and models the whole enterprise as a sum of the parts, from a variety of different perspectives and stakeholder viewpoints. All enterprises are essentially multi-dimensional, and the connections are the way we can understand all the dimensions.

The connection types can include connections such as:

  • Traceability
  • Impact
  • Association
  • Responsible
  • Affinity
  • Correlation
  • Dependency
  • Interaction
  • Cost
  • Accesses
  • Motivation
  • Evolution
  • Need
  • Enables
  • Assignment
  • Realisation
  • Uses
  • Requires

The name, definitions and set of all possible connection types will be specified in your favourite EA Framework/Meta Model (I.e. TOGAF, ArchiMate, FEAF, MODAF etc.). It’s more common to customise a meta model by adding new connections between existing components that it is to add new component types themselves

Using a well developed EA model, CxOs will be able to look at all the connections help to understand the way the enterprise works as a whole, as a holistic enterprise. The connection provide the cohesion in the model. CxOs can understand all the connections internally between business units, their business model, their business motivation model and externally with their customers and suppliers. And to gain an understanding of how the company fits within the market environment and compares with its competitors. The connections provide knowledge and dynamics.

To get the right answers you need to ask the right questions. The connections between components will provide the answers and support decision making.

Here are some questions that might be asked:

  • How are the Business Capabilities realised?
  • How do the Business Processes access Data and Information?
  • What Knowledge is available to my staff?
  • What Business Services are associated with my Value Proposition in my Business Model?
  • How does the Product Lifecycle change over time?
  • What are the dependencies between Business Capabilities?
  • How are my User Needs and Customer Journeys satisfied?
  • What components are expected to evolve in the future?
  • How do my Business Capabilities compare to those of my Competitors?
  • How does my enterprise compare to the Market Offerings?
  • When are the Capability Increments realised with Initiatives in the Roadmap?
  • Which Initiatives are planned as Programmes and Projects?
  • What Resources are assigned to each Initiative or Project?
  • What are the Risks associated with my potential Investments?
  • What are the dependencies in the Project?

More connections in an EA model will make that model richer and more useful. Connections provide the behaviour in a model.
Connections are not just static but are dynamic and may be changed far more often that the components they link. Modelling dynamic behaviour in an EA model is something that is often overlooked.

An Enterprise Architect is thus someone who makes vital use of “the fundamental interconnectedness of all things”, in order to understand complexity and to find the right answers for the whole enterprise; and who thereby becomes the master of changes, transformations and evolution of the enterprise over time.

Increased interconnectedness in an enterprise architecture model can stimulate innovation and the emergence of new ideas and possibilities.

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