My colleague, Jon Carter, and I have just come back from attending a TOGAF 9 training course – and I was pleasantly surprised on two counts.
Firstly, the course was excellent; it really brought TOGAF 9 to life as it was focused on how to apply it in different organisations and scenarios, rather than a dry run through of its concepts with the aim of passing a test at the end – which was what I was, somewhat unsportingly maybe, expecting!
Secondly, I found TOGAF 9 to be a very useful framework in which to apply EA, obviously couched with all the usual warnings about having the right skills and knowledge to apply it, however the new focus on the business elements makes the framework eminently usable, and hopefully future versions of TOGAF will continue to expand the support for business architecture.
Whilst on the course Jon and I were also thinking about the compatibility between TOGAF 9 and Essential, and how effectively Essential can support organisations that are using TOGAF 9 as their EA framework. I’m pleased to say that TOGAF 9 and Essential are, in fact, very compatible. There are a few concepts within Essential that are not supported by TOGAF 9, and vice versa, as well as a few concepts that have slightly different meanings, primarily in the newer TOGAF 9 business layer. For example, what we have described as a Business Capability in the Essential meta model is very closely aligned to what TOGAF 9 describes as a Business Function, however, these differences are very easily explained and in essence it would be very straightforward to use Essential to support an organisation using TOGAF 9 as its framework.
An area that struck both Jon and I where we are very closely aligned with TOGAF 9 is the definition and use of views and viewpoints. TOGAF describes understanding each stakeholder’s concerns, defining the view of the architecture that they need to understand to satisfy their concern, and then building the viewpoint to produce this view. In Essential we have always been very clear that information captured is done so to give the ability to provide decision support to all relevant roles. We have not provided an exhaustive list of pre-defined and coded reports that we think will satisfy all needs, as we are clear that each organisation not only has a different set of problems to solve, but that it will have different types of people solving the problems and therefore their needs and desires in terms of views required to provide decision support are different. We have, therefore, designed the Essential knowledge base (the ontology) in such a way that once the information is captured, Essential can be used to rapidly define required views – and, in addition, we have developed Essential so that creating new views is relatively easy. A new view will typically take 1-3 days to build depending on its complexity, and it then provides a template which can be used across various data sources, as opposed to a one off report. We believe this supports TOGAF ideals well.
We do have plans to complete an Essential/TOGAF 9 mapping to cover how Essential could be used to support TOGAF 9, and propose to produce a mapping, rather than any alterations to Essential, as we do want to remain framework independent.
All in all a very valuable four days spent.