The production of enterprise architecture documents should adopt a formal content authoring framework – principle 4


The common tool across most organisations for authoring documents is Microsoft Office – Word, Excel and Powerpoint – however this does limit the usefulness of the information contained within the document. Even though Microsoft has updated the file format to an XML based format this still does not allow the author to add intelligence to the document by way of tagging content with more than just headings and styles.

In order for enterprise content management systems and enterprise search engines to manage and deliver content to users they need to be formatted in a particular way with metadata and xml. Microsoft Word and Excel are able to do this but there are other tools that could be used to build a better content library for an enterprise architecture repository. At this point I am not talking about models produced with an appropriate enterprise architecture tool such as Troux or Aris but document based artefacts.

It is worth considering the potential benefits from authoring content within a XML authoring tool – at the moment i am looking at an open source tool from Syntex called Serna. This is a WYSIWYG XML authoring tool that offers DITA and Docbook formats and at some later date i will post some comments on the application.

Enterprise Ontology – a framework for building and identifying corporate evidence


Role of an enterprise ontology

For an overview of this concept i am going to reference an article written by Dave McComb called The Enterprise Ontology. It offers a good description of an ontology, an Enterprise Ontology as well as some very good reasons as to why an organisation should build one. The article was written in 2006 and i will quote the first paragraph: At the time of this writing almost no enterprises in North America have a formal enterprise ontology.

Yet we believe that within a few years this will become one of the foundational pieces to most information system work within major enterprises.

We are now in 2011 and i am not aware of any publicised stories of any companies in the USA or Europe or the rest of the world for that matter that are able to say they have an enterprise ontology and that it is underpinning the information systems that exist within organisation.

Whilst it is expected that it will take an organisation some time to design, model and build an enterprise ontology the benefits will, if it is managed effectively, bring considerable change to people and value to the information created.

An enterprise ontology provides the enterprise indexing system to define meaning, classification and categorisation for past, current and future information. By providing this it aids evidence and evidence based enterprise architecture by creating a means to “frame” information by specific terms and definitions and thus aid like to like relationships.

If we consider evidence as either proofs or observations derived from a formal or scientific approach as well as opinions and expert statements created from renowned experience and capability; thus that evidence has to be

Building up evidence


The likelihood of delivering value through enterprise architecture, in my mind, is based on the evidence behind the arguments supporting the decisions made in any architectural change. So what are the ways in which evidence based methods and practices can be developed to work with the task of managing Enterprise Architecture as a function within an organisation.

I will use this blog to explore the various ways to build up appropriate tools and techniques to support evidence based enterprise architecture but first i want to describe a view of the future. A future where an organisation is is using this approach to shape the design and development of their enterprise architecture.

This future organisation already has very mature enterprise content management, metadata management and master data management policies and practices in place. With these foundations in operation the Enterprise Achitecture team are now exploring the potential of semantic technologies to make more use of their knowledge, information and data repositories. By this i mean they are going to use an inferencing engine to drive answers from an EA knowledge base. The asserted model will then be used to create evidence to support multiple decisions in a architectural strategy.

To be able to create specific data or content assertions the inference engine would have to be supported by a detailed federated ontological environment and secondary knowledge bases. An arrangement for this type of environment could include upper ontologies such as Cyc or WolfrumAlpha then specific ontologies such as an enterprise ontology (covering organisation domains) working with an enterprise architecture ontology which would be supported by extension ontologies including an ITIL ontology, SOA ontology, OMG BPMN ontology and OMG Business Motivation Model ontology.

I accept that the above suggestion would be quite a piece of work to do and i am not aware of any organisations attempting such a thing. Leading academic institutions have over the years put out papers covering projects that built an enterprise ontology and i have only come across a few organisations that have attempted it but i am sure this will change over the next few years. The biggest challenge to this is the cost and effort required to build and maintain the knowledge and evidence through knowledge bases and ontologies. Yet, this cost would be nothing compared to the cost of failed strategies.