Enterprise architecture model resource


I’ve come across a really useful resource created by Louise McDonagh.

An Enterprise architecture model consisting of ‘generic data, function and application architecture model framework’.

The ‘data model’ is in effect a set of conceptual model patterns – based around the following subject areas:

  • Activities and events
  • Actor/parties
  • Agreements
  • Assets
  • Business rules
  • Locations
  • Financial accounts
  • Product and services

A set of definitions is also provided – could be useful for initial ‘straw man’ definitions with stakeholders.

Definitely worth taking a look at – especially for anyone about to undertake or currently undergoing a business capability or business information modelling exercise.


What about the I in IT?


Mark McDonald has recently written an interesting blog – The big when for IT is now.

The following quote particularly resonated with me:
“Finally, the strategic importance of IT has shifted, it’s no longer about can it run or will it run – those are now givens. Rather it is about what will be different, what will be of value, how will things support our uniqueness in the marketplace and with our customers.”

I agree with Mark’s general point that technology is becoming increasingly commoditised and therefore less likely to offer one organisation a competitive advantage over another.

But, do many organisations have the required information quality to enable them to know ‘what will be of value’ and to have, for example, a 360 degree view of their ‘best’ customers?

I have also been following a discussion on LinkedIn – Raison d’être – Information has value – everything else in IT is a cost. Discuss

A controversial title and an interesting discussion – definitely worth looking at.

The two items got me thinking about the current nature of IT in many organisations.

Corporate IT departments will spend 70% to 80% of it’s budget on ‘keeping the lights on’ – basically on the technology/infrastructure side of things.

A small % is typically spent on information/data management. It is the data that is unique to an organisation, not the commoditised technology, and it is the intelligent use of this data that can offer an organisation competitive advantage.

Many organisations do not put an appropriate focus on the ‘I’ part of IT.

But, is this about to change? Will IT functions within organisation have to focus more on the ‘I’ side of things or face the risk of becoming marginalised?

What do you think?

IT and the rest of the business


In a previous blog Is IT part of the business? I raised the issue of our common use of language eg ‘IT and the business’ that makes a special case of IT and effectively separates it from the rest of the business.

I recently came across a related post by Jon Page Business intelligence is an after thought where he also raises this issue and makes the point that this mode of thinking is ‘divisive and outdated’.

So if this is the case why do we continue with this way of thinking?

Doing agile – do I need to think about the rest of the enterprise?


I recently read an interesting article – Governing Agile Development Teams – by Scott Ambler

A couple of points particularly resonated with me – as they relate to my blog Agile database development 101 and the need to ‘Think about the rest of the enterprise’.

To quote the article:

“Agile methods should strive to optimize the whole, not just sub-optimize on construction or delivery.”

“Too many agile teams are building high-quality silo applications, which is better than building low-quality silo applications I suppose, but what they really need to be doing is building high-quality enterprise-class applications and the only way to do so is to take enterprise considerations into account throughout the delivery lifecycle

These quotes go someway in dispelling the myth that agile projects don’t need to think about the overall enterprise.

Getting the appropriate balance between tactical and strategic objectives is key for all projects – not just those ‘doing agile’.

Many projects, whilst perhaps being optimum for their particular business unit needs, are not paying enough attention to the overall needs of the enterprise and hence sub-optimum for ‘the whole’.

This is of particular importance to data architecture, and the overall data management space, as these project sub-optimisations are major contributors to the data quality debt incurred in many organisations.

The big question is how to ensure we get the appropriate balance?

Pragmatic enterprise architecture framework – PEAF


I attended an interesting and thought provoking training course last week run by PEAF’s founder Kevin Smith.

PEAF’s mantra is “cutting EA to the bone” – with a focus on:

  • filling the gap between minimal EA frameworks that do not provide guidance on how ‘to do’ EA and those that are difficult to use/understand.
  • looking at all areas of the enterprise – not just IT/technical areas.

During the week two core concepts particularly resonated with me:

  • “Enterprise debt” – the debt incurred by organisations when projects do not comply with core architecutural principles. This particularly hit home as I have blogged previously about a related concept – ‘data quality debt’.
  • “Yes, but….”. The role of an architect is to help an organisation make better informed decisions. An architect should provide information on the implications of a particular idea/project, and if required, ensure that senior management are aware of these. An architect’s role is not to act as a gatekeeper – to say “Yes, but….” rather than “No”

If you are starting to look into EA or evaluating different frameworks then it is defnitely worth taking a look at what PEAF can offer.

Is IT part of the business?


How many times have you seen words to the effect of – ‘the business and IT’?

For example:

  • ‘we need to get the business and IT to work more effectively together’
  • ‘we need better business and IT alignment’

I was reading an interesting blog today it contained a diagram that had the business on one side and IT on the other.

It got me thinking – in any of the above – would you replace the word ‘IT’ with another business unit?

Would you say ‘the business and Sales’? HR? Finance? Marketing? Research etc etc?

If not – why do we treat IT as a special case? Why do we use language that effectively treats IT as a separate entity from ‘the business’?

Does using language like this lead to a mindset which creates barriers within an enterprise?

Where now for corporate IT?


In an interesting article Must IT solutions always be based on software? Lyn Robinson makes the assertion that “When software becomes a commodity, IT solutions will be based on information requirements.”

I agree with his general sentiment and think that over the next few years corporate IT is going to have to change the way that it thinks and operates.

Enterprise architecture is sometimes categorised into four ‘pillars’:

  • business
  • information
  • solution
  • technical

Traditionally IT and EA groups within organisations have focused on the last two with less attention payed to information and business architecture – see The State Of EA In 2009 – A Disconnect Between Goals And Activities? As the last last two increasingly become viewed as commodities and sourced externally, this is going to have to switch.

As Todd Biske comments – “IT needs to change its fundamental thinking from provider to advisor or be at risk of becoming irrelevant.”