Essential is an enterprise architecture tool built to support the management of your enterprise architecture, driven by data not by diagrams. It is an EA tool that gives you the information you need about your organisation to enable you to:
- Reduce Cost
- Increase Efficiency
- Reduce Risk
- Deliver Strategy with Increased Confidence
Organisations are complex, and the more clarity we can get on that complexity, the better decisions we as architects can make. Essential focuses on capturing the information about your organisation that allows you to make those decisions and recommendations, from business capabilities, to processes, to applications to technology to data and things that impact those, such as strategy, cost, regulation, etc.
The Product (The Short Read)
1. Get Data In
Our meta model may be the most extensive of any EA tool, based on our consulting work and designed to extend easily if you like. You can populate it using a variety of mechanisms:
- Our forms-based interface in the tool
- Importing Excel, XML or CSV
- Bi-directional APIs (Cloud) to get data in/out and to integrate with other systems
- Our Everyone’s Essential Editors (with no training required) (Cloud)
2. Maintain Data
Our cloud-based editors allow for quick and easy editing of your data—and no training is required. We have seen how EA tools can become a maintenance headache for a time-poor EA team. We’ve designed Everyone’s Essential to allow organisations to maintain data without needing to be trained in Essential, hiding any complexities in the meta model and retaining only the structured data it needs—allowing architects’ time for value-adding activities.
3. Use The Data
With over 130 visualisations, you can choose where to start your EA journey and view insights into potential opportunities while conveying information needed for making arguments.
Complex decisions are simplified with ‘what-if’ tools and scenario analysis. Simple catalogues provide quick access to general information, speeding up change and project work. Our road mapping allows you to see how the architecture will change as strategy is implemented, with the ability to animate the changes if required.
The Product (The Long Read)
To be successful, any organisation needs to:
- Meet and anticipate changing customer demands and high service expectations
- Meet regulatory requirements that are becoming increasingly complex
- Meet shareholder expectations of increased returns while managing business risks
But Organisational Complexity makes this difficult: the interdependent mix of people, functions, business processes, IT applications, data, infrastructure, suppliers, and customers scattered across multiple locations, often across the world.
Complexity breeds its own set of problems. Inefficiencies, slow responsiveness to changing market conditions, inconsistent data—and potential for internal confusion and regulatory fines or security breaches.
Complexity makes it difficult to understand how the business operating model works, where there are opportunities for improvement, and where risks lie if the model needs to change. Due to the diversity of data needed to analyse an organisation, it is almost impossible for people to use spreadsheets or Visio and other simple software packages.
Business executives don’t want to waste time managing complexity; they would rather focus on strategic matters: meeting their organisation’s long-term goals and differentiating its products and services. They also need to know where money is being spent, whether it is being spent wisely, and how to get the best returns from strategic investments.
In short, the Essential enterprise architecture tool makes complex organisations easier to manage by uncovering and analysing how people, functions, processes—in fact everything from applications through infrastructure to suppliers and customers—interact across the company. It shows the effect that these interactions have on the strategy of a business and enables changes to be assessed so they can be implemented.
Essential allows you to ensure that IT is a key enabler of the business strategy by:
- Understanding the capabilities that are fundamental to achieving the business strategy, enabling priorities to be identified, and aligning IT and the business so the organisation can meet its goals
- Enabling ‘Road Mapping’ and ‘What If’ analysis against your organisation’s current position to identify how IT can enable the business
- Highlighting opportunities for re-use, achieving business aims more quickly and at less cost
- Highlighting duplication in applications, technology, processes and so on allows for streamlining to increase efficiency and agility—and at a lower cost.
- Understanding your data and allowing its power to be harnessed by the organisation
Facts about your organisation are captured into Essential’s central, enterprise architecture focused repository, joining data that already exists in silos across your organisation. The Essential views present this data to you, allowing you to analyse and make decisions based on a complete understanding of your organisation.
The power of Essential is that it can connect data based on ‘hooks’, e.g. the process owner knows their process and the applications they use, the application owner knows the application and the database the application uses, the server team know the servers that host the database and the application. With those 3 pools of data, captured independently, Essential can connect that data so we now can see what processes are impacted by any change or risk tied to that server
- Anyone in the organisation can help create the enterprise architecture – Essential enables people to capture data without having to understand the business model
- You capture the facts about the organisation and their interrelationships; Essential generates views to provide clarity and enable analysis for decision-making
- Skilled enterprise architects can focus their energies on value adding activities
- You don’t draw pictures with Essential, you let Essential create the visualisations
- Essential uses advanced algorithms to work out where there are potential issues, opportunities, and risks
We provide a mechanism to allow you to quickly add value, and to demonstrate to senior management where opportunities, risks and efficiencies exist. We offer a free Launchpad pack that provides senior management friendly views, supported by a simple data capture approach—to give you the foundation for any Enterprise Architecture effort.
Launchpad doesn’t require any training, and we provide everything you need to populate a set of Excel worksheets. You can then quickly import the data captured into the Essential enterprise architecture tool and finally, start using the Launchpad’s views!
To maintain your data in Cloud we have our Everyone’s Essential Editors which make data capture simple, whilst retaining the fidelity our model requires.
With the base Essential plan, you get around 130 views. However, we have designed it to be extensible and encourage users to build their own views. Building requires basic knowledge of XML and XSL and usually it can take anywhere from an hour to build a simple view to a few days for a complex view. Most users we talk to have extended our views and, once they understand the pattern for view development, have been able to quickly build new views.
Data is captured via a variety of mechanisms.
Our simple editors in Everyone’s Essential allow you to capture data via drag and drop, simple drop downs, etc and are designed to be accessible to anyone in the organisation.
For the more experienced users, there is a data capture interface where you add data and create relationships through a, primarily, forms-based mechanism. Importantly, you aren’t drawing pictures with Essential, you are capturing facts and relationships, then Essential visualizes that data for you. You manage capture, configure, and publish from the data capture capability. Note Essential Cloud provides an enhanced user-friendly interface with improved security, but the underlying model and method is the same in both Essential EA tools.
With Essential you feed it data via various mechanisms:
- Spreadsheet import
- APIs, e.g. sending data from and to other tools such as ServiceNow, Qualys, CMDBs, your own tools, etc
- XML, e.g. other systems, Visio, etc
As the tool is populated with data, views begin to light up with information, you then publish the data to enable people to access the information and gain insight, make decisions, update other tools, fee into BI tools, etc.
You can also use the import utility to import XML, Excel or CSV data. Or you can use the automated import which can support all those formats and, shortly, JSON. You can also integrate with other tools, such as ServiceNow, Archi or Sparx, as long as the semantics of the tools providing the data is consistent
You create relationships between objects with the data capture interface, or through the imports.
Additionally, in Essential Cloud & Essential Docker you can leverage our APIs to get data both in and out of Essential, allowing you to integrate with other tools such as Tableau, Qlik, Microsoft PowerBI, etc.
Once you have data in the repository, you publish to the viewer. Out of the box, you get over 120 views, including catalogues, dependency views, etc. We produce views that you can utilize day to day to do your job, based on our own experience, and also views that you can utilise with management to support your analysis and recommendations. In Essential Cloud & Essential Docker access to views is managed via user roles, so you can easily manage which views different stakeholders see. In Essential Open Source this is managed by creating different portals.
We provide information on our Essential University to show you how to get Essential views working, and to help you understand relationships within Essential.
Our enterprise architecture tool also has several added features, such as multi-language. We already support, UK English and US English, German, French, Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese. Adding additional languages is a simple mapping exercise.
Adding to or extending the underlying model takes minutes. If you want a new class then create the class in the editor, add relationships and it is immediately available to the viewer. The same applies if you want to add a slot to an existing class.
Many different types of views can be created, from simple tables to more complex interactive reports. With simple XSL skills, you can create your own catalogues and reports to personalise Essential to your own organisation.
We can integrate with other tools, such as either CMDBs, Project Management Tools, Security Tools, HR tools, etc. through our APIs or via our XML service
The Meta Model
The Essential Meta Model is the heart of the Essential Project. In effect, an ontology for an entire organisation that has been developed from over fifteen years of consulting with global organisations, supporting them in many different contexts; strategy management, application portfolio management, information, and data management, etc. and providing the analysis required to achieve business value such as cost savings, agility and so on.
The tool was designed by real architects, it’s made to be extensible, we understand what you need from a tool and how to bring value to your organisation. Essential provides a foundation for your business to develop its insights from the out of the box views that are then extended into areas with real competitive advantage.
The core Meta-Model concepts and relationships are based on our twelve-box grid, which has become a de facto industry standard; with layers representing the areas of architecture to be understood and rows representing the levels of abstraction from which this understanding is to be viewed.
Defining the Meta Model
Knowledge related to the goals and objectives, capabilities, people, processes, and products/services of an enterprise.
Knowledge related to the functional behaviour provided by technology systems in support of business processes.
Knowledge related to the structured and unstructured information that support business processes, is managed by applications, and is transmitted/stored using technology.
Knowledge related to the software and hardware technology used to implement applications and transmit/store information.
- CONCEPTUAL VIEW
The capabilities and concepts that represent the fundamental elements needed to meet the objectives of an enterprise, we often refer to this as ‘the what’ (Strategic Agenda).
- LOGICAL VIEW
The approaches taken to realise the capabilities and concepts of the Conceptual View, we often refer to this a ‘the how’ (Tactical Agenda).
- PHYSICAL VIEW
The implementation of the approaches described in the Logical View, we often refer to this as ‘the where’ (Operational Agenda).
Provides concepts and relationships to enable management and governance processes that make use of the knowledge captured in the Core Meta-Model. These will expand continuously as we receive demand from our users, a sample are shown below:
- STRATEGY MANAGEMENT
Managing an organisations future state and the intended road map for achieving it.
- CHANGE MANAGEMENT
Managing the dependencies that impact the processes, people and IT of the enterprise during change, e.g. in support of project portfolio management or programme management.
- SERVICE DELIVERY
Managing the dependencies that exist between processes, people and IT in support of the on-going operation of an enterprise.
Managing knowledge related to the requirements, design and implementation of an organisation’s security policies and architecture across business and IT.
- INFORMATION/DATA STANDARDS MANAGEMENT
Provides the ability to manage data quality, ownership and governance across the organisation.
- LEGAL MANAGEMENT
Support for managing legal compliance for technology and business services, e.g. licensing.
- COST MANAGEMENT
Support for managing the costs of elements in the architecture, e.g. technology or business contract costs.
- SKILLS MANAGEMENT
Support the ability to capture and model Skills required by Business Roles and provided by Actors in the business layer.
- INFORMATION LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT
Defining and managing classification schemes and lifecycle policies related to the creation, distribution, retention, and disposal of information in use across an organisation (viewed from a conceptual, logical or physical perspective).