One of the recommendations of IEEE 1471 (the standard for describing the architecture of a software-intensive system) is to establish a conceptual framework and vocabulary for talking about architectural issues of systems. To provide a definition of what controlled vocabularies are and why they should be used i refer to Wikipedia and the following quote:
In organizations, controlled vocabularies may be introduced to improve technical communication. The use of controlled vocabulary ensures that everyone is using the same word to mean the same thing. This consistency of terms is one of the most important concepts in technical writing and knowledge management, where effort is expended to use the same word throughout a document or organization instead of slightly different ones to refer to the same thing.
Both enterprise architecture and evidence based activities benefit greatly from a controlled vocabulary. By creating and agreeing on a controlled set of terms, and the meaning behind the terms, helps readers understand commonality and relationships across document sets that support projects, processes, policies and strategies etc. and therefore a greater understanding of what the document is trying to say.
Where evidence is used to support enterprise artefacts and documentation the use of controlled vocabulary helps ensure that the evidence is understood and bears meaning to the hypotheses and recommendations it is supporting.
Principle 3 outlines the need for a controlled authoring process in conjunction with a content management system. This will ensure that appropriate artefacts are identified and the where needed sections or topics that require evidence can completed and reviewed accordingly. The following represent a series of authoring activities that can be controlled through workflow and collaboration functions within a content management system such as Sharepoint or Livelink:
- Scheduling of work with appropriate artefact templates
- Drafting of the template through collaborative authoring and workflow
- Scheduling of research into domain or topic to identify underlying evidence for appropriate sections within the artefact
- Collection of evidence to support recommendations and hypotheses
- Collation of content and evidence within artefact for final draft
- Submission of draft artefact for review by review committee and subject matter experts
- Review of draft artefact and supporting evidence
- Analysis of feedback and update of draft to final version
- submission of artefact for sign off
- Release of artefact to requestor
- Uploading of artefact and supporting evidence in architectural repository
- Continual monitoring and appraisal of artefact through operational lifetime.
Enterprise architecture artefacts should be considered as some of the most valuable enterprise assets as they not only define the structure of the organisation but they steer the future design of the organisation’s evolution. It is therefore important that they are produced and maintained in a disciplined fashion.