Enterprise architecture development method – principle 2

Each architectural framework (TOGAF, MODAF, DODAF, FEA) has its own development method that describes how to construct and deliver an architecture of the organisation from their prescribed artefacts. Perhaps it is just taken for granted that architects will research and use evidence where appropriate to justify their views and recommendations.  Yet  those methods i have used and have researched (i am not knowledgeable on all architecture methods) do not factor the concept of evidence application in their approach. So for principle 2 i am recommending that by adopting evidence based enterprise architecture it requires an addition to the governance and methodology to include activities that encourages research and application of evidence to support decisions, hypotheses and recommendations.

Foundations for Evidence Based Enterprise Architecture

I believe that the foundations for evidence based enterprise architecture are the following:

  • An enterprise architecture framework e.g. TOGAF, Zachman supported by necessary extensions such as ITIL, BPML
  • Enterprise Content Management strategy supported by an enterprise content management system and search engine.
  • Master Data Management and Metadata Management policies supported by strategies and systems.
  • A content authoring standard and methodology such as DITA – the Darwin Information Typing Architecture which is an XML-based architecture for authoring, producing, and delivering information.
  • Authoring methods for narrative production through users stories, use cases, scenarios, storyboards, case-controlled studies, case reports, surveys and expert opinion.
  • Controls such as metamodels, taxonomies and ontologies for catagorisation and classification
  • and finally a team of architects able to provide a consultation and validation process to review all architectural content and data through systematic reviews and apply an authority to the evidence.

The final point is probably the hardest to perform as this team has to be able to provide the assurances that the evidence they have identified is necessary and sufficient to be applied to future content and will add value to the user.

Knowledge, Evidence and Architecture

I have been looking at the requirements for knowledge building and sharing to advise a major programme. By now i would have thought that there should be enough guidelines for how teams should be doing this but still there seems to be obstacles.

What does a reader want when they are looking for something to help them support or perform the task they are doing? They want assurances that the information they find is going to add value to their task.

My advice to them was to consider preparing a knowledge charter for all participants at all levels of management. In this charter it should set out the rules, roles and responsibilities of how knowledge is created and distributed to all team members. More importantly it should set out clear evidence and references to underpin the facts and figures they use.

Every team member, at some point of their participation, will create information to support a project deliverable. That could be either a word document from a template, a visio model or diagram,  a spreadsheet or powerpoint presentation. The charter must set out ways to use reviews, opinions and feedback to distinguish particular pieces of information that can be defined as project knowledge.

These distinguishing features should be outlined through the document’s metadata and summaries. A reader coming to the document through a search should be able to determine what the document addresses and how useful that document will be to them. A reader will be coming to that document looking for answers to problems, challenges, solutions or advice as well as evidence that the knowledge within the document will be reusable to contribute to the the task they are involved in.

I was asked how this charter could advise on content structure and my first response was to keep document terms to well defined and understood business methodologies to help remove ambiguity. Secondly, to help the reader and their investigations by providing good, old fashioned references to quality sources of information.

All things created should be useful to someone or a group of people at some point in time. The value of that thing (document) as knowledge may be very specific to a particular task or a limited audience at a point in time however, there will be a percentage of that content that will have a lasting value to others. Determining  that value is greatly enhanced if it pertains to frameworks, standards and evidence. Standards and Frameworks such as  ITIL, MSP or TOGAF have a clear structure, terminology and application and are widely recognised and accepted.

Providing supporting evidence may provide the greatest value but it is important to determine the quality of that evidence before making any decision on value. Through this blog i am going to explore the different ways of building up appropriate evidence to support architectural decision making and scenario planning through the structure of a framework and associated systems and standards.