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.
Goals exist at every level of an organisation and it is important that behind each goal is sufficient evidence that the target of the goal is the right decision and that it is achievable. It is often hard to measure the effects of decisions on very long term enterprise level goals unless there is a dedicated team monitoring from beginning to end.
At an enterprise level a long term goal may be dependent upon the success of many subgoals therefore creating complex interdependent relationships. As the path to reaching the goal develops the effects of the decision stages should be assessed as well as relevance and value of the underlying evidence.
The evidence used to help the decisions behind long term enterprise goals may be in several forms. Data based evidence includes such things as statistical reports, business intelligence, trends, financial projections and forecasts. Content based evidence generally includes internal reports, externally published and purchased reports from leading organisations such as Gartner, Ovum, Mckinsey etc. competitive analysis and recommendations from internal or external experts.
It is likely that an organisation will spend considerable money, time and effort assembling and analysing the evidence before decisions are made. It is therefore important to track and monitor the value of the evidence against the benefits delivered as the organisation moves towards the goal. This i believe is a role for enterprise architecture.
Realising the goal is likely to have an impact and sometimes a major impact on the enterprise architecture. The architects tasked with defining the future architecture should monitor the evidence for changes over time and consider these changes for possible impacts on the future designs.
For example, an organisational goal to adopt a new ERP system or scale up operations or service lines will have an impact on the business, information and technology architectures. The evidence behind the decisions suggests certain courses of action as well as the purchase of new technologies. Over time the evidence sources may change their opinions, views or recommendations or new evidence may arise to question the original conclusions.
This is often termed horizon scanning and if overlooked then the result could be costly errors and damage to the original outcome of the goal.