Essential Playbook

Deliver value from your Enterprise Architecture using Essential.

The Challenge

As practising architects, we have seen and understand the challenges that any enterprise architecture tool faces. We recognise that typically EA tools begin life with everyone enthused and entering lots of data before (often quite quickly) fatigue kicks in and people start to find data maintenance an issue, lots of orphan data begins to exist, people begin to distrust the repository and then it gets shutdown as a failure. Equally, the other concern people have is the amount of data a repository needs – ‘we’ll never get there so why bother at all’ – which should never be a problem if you are getting value, and people in this situation are often not strict in what they are using their repository for and why.


Why Playbook?

We have written this playbook as a way to address key issues. Success with your enterprise architecture and Essential is about focus, engagement and maximising value based on what you have available to you. A small steps approach where you keep tight focus and then expand once people are ‘wowed’ is always the best path to success. The playbook gives you choices on where to start with the Essential EA tool and tells you how to engage, what to communicate, how to deliver and where you should potentially go next.

Playbook is not a lesson in enterprise architecture, but you will see some key EA concepts and EA approaches that we take, you’ll note we don’t tend to be driven by frameworks but more by value. Some may argue whether we’ve got these plays right or not, to be honest there’s no real right way, whatever works best for you is the right way, but this is what we have seen work.


We’ll keep evolving Playbook, if you have questions then do please raise them on the forums, and any ideas for new plays would be great. It is through the community that we know where to focus Essential next so any feedback is welcomed. We hope you find this useful

 Note: If you’d like a pdf version of Playbook with everything in one place, send us an email with a quick summary of your problem and we’ll send you a copy with a pointer as to where to start


1. Choose Your Play > 2. Action Each Element of the Play > 3. Decide Your Next Play

At the bottom of each section you will see a set of steps. At the top is a code A1.1, A1.2 etc. see below.

Architecture Elements

These relate to the architecture elements, i.e. the key enterprise architecture concepts in Essential, you should focus on. You can click on the code or see all the elements here. Each architecture element has an explanation as to what you need, who to leverage, key messages and, in most cases, videos. As you execute the steps of the play, you will use the architecture elements.


Play 1

Anchor on Applications, Bring in Business Elements

Play 2

Anchor on applications, link to technology, bring in business elements

Play 3

Build simple governance, anchored around applications then technology

Play 4

Anchor on technology and build the architecture out from there

Play 5

Get data in shape

Play 6

Bring in standards for technology, anchored around applications

Play 7

Map applications to projects for impact analysis

Play 8

Create your roadmaps

Architecture Elements

These are the different architecture elements that each play utilises


Prior to initiating your effort you need to be clear about your aim for your EA – your target state. You will only need to collect enough information to serve this aim.  Your chosen target state should take account of your organisation’s level of enterprise architecture maturity.  Depending on your maturity, the target should be communicated in either broad or targeted terms.  The more mature you are the more focused you can be.

Finally, agree the target state with your senior management (i.e. CIO, senior heads or business executives, as appropriate).

Maturity: Low (1-2)

Little or no architecture in place, limited EA traction in IT and business
Broad statements

Within 3 years:
  • Lower costs through rationalised processes, applications and technology
  • Reduced risk through identification and removal of key technology risks
  • Digitalisation of the business
Maturity: Medium (3-4)

Processes in place, varied levels of business/IT engagement, positive reputation, good grasp of EA assets
Targeted statements based on areas of knowledge, otherwise broad

  • Rationalisation of the trading platforms
  • Reduce IT run costs
  • Remove technology risk from Operations
  • Digitalise the customer experience
Maturity: High (5)

Tightly coupled with IT and business, key strategic input, strong governance, good control of EA assets
Targeted statements

  • 90% Cloud-based infrastructure, leveraging Azure
  • IT run costs down by 30%
  • 50% of processes automated
  • Full digitalisation of the client facing processes
  • Consolidation of the 4 trading platforms into a single platform for trading

Key Points

  • The plays are quite linear in the way they are described. We would recommend you do small POCs at each state to test and have early demonstrators
  • A PoC could be across 2 or more steps or a thin slice end-to-end, it depends on the complexity
  • Communicate and engage teams though the whole play.  Have wash-up’s after each play
  • Don’t deviate from the play. Most people fail because they get diverted by ‘wouldn’t it be good if we just added’ ideas
  • Be very clear on how you will maintain any transient data. If data gets stale then people won’t use it, we suggest that if it won’t be maintained you don’t put it in Essential as the initiative is more likely to fail
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