What is Essential?

A walkthrough of Essential and how you use the tool

In Simple Terms

Essential is an enterprise architecture tool that gives you the information you need about your organization to enable you to:

  • Reduce Cost
  • Increase Efficiency
  • Reduce Risk
  • Delivery strategy with increased confidence

Informed decisions based on fact

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 to achieve all this is really difficult, mainly because of Organisational Complexity: 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 problems with inefficiencies (and related costs), complexslow responsiveness to changing market conditions through a lack of agility, and inconsistent data with potential for internal confusion, regulatory fines and security breaches. Complexity makes it difficult to understand how the business operating model actually works, where there are opportunities for improvement, and where risks lie if the model needs to change. In addition, the diversity of data needed to analyse the organisation makes this nigh on impossible to manage in spreadsheets, Visio, etc.

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.

How Can Essential Help?

In short, by making complex organisations easier to manage, the Essential enterprise architecture tool helps you understand how people, functions, processes, applications, data, infrastructure, suppliers and customers interact across the business, and how they support or hinder the business strategy. It also enables the impacts of changes to the business operating model to be assessed.
Essential allows you to ensure that IT is a key enabler of the business strategy by:

"We actually re-organised IT based on what Essential told us"
  • Understanding the capabilities that are fundamental to achieving the business strategy, enabling priorities to be identified, and aligning IT and the business
  • 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, of applications, technology, process etc, allowing streamlining to increase efficiency and agility, and to reduce costs
  • Understanding your data and allowing its power to be harnessed by the organisation

How does Essential Work?

Facts about your organisation are captured into Essential's central, enterprise architecture focused repository, joining data that already exists in silo’s 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.

  • 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 add 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

How do you deliver value quickly with Essential?

Enterprise Architecture to manage your IT assets

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 with a set of senior management friendly views, supported by a simple data capture approach, to give you a great foundation for your Enterprise Architecture effort.

Launchpad doesn't require any training, and we provide everything you need to populate a set of Excel worksheets, then quickly import the data captured into the Essential enterprise architecture tool and to finally start using the Launchpad views.

Essential Views

Essential to manage your enterprise Architecture

You get around 120 views included with the base Essential (See here). However, we have designed Essential 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.

The Meta Model

"The best structured meta model I've seen, everything has clearly been well thought through"

The Essential meta model is very extensive and based on our enterprise architecture experience. We are recognised as one of the world's top-tier boutique EA firms and are all practising architects - we have been (and still are) Chief Architects, lead architects, etc at Fortune 2000 companies, and continue to provide consulting and deliver value to these firms.

This experience is important, as it is from our EA work that we have built and continue to extend the meta model, and we know which views work with EA teams and with senior management, depending on the problem. We understand the questions that they want answered.

We see Essential as a foundation upon which you can provide your organization with real insight from the out of the box views, but also that you can extend and take into many other areas of interest that give your organization real competitive advantage. Your enterprise architecture tool has to add value (often they don't), and we believe that in Essential we have a tool that avoids the common mistakes of other EA tools, mainly because we understand what a proper EA tool needs to do from our real experience as architects.

How Do You Capture Data?

Data is captured via a variety of mechanisms.

There is the 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.

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 within the data capture interface, or through the imports.

Additionally, in Essential Cloud 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 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 models and videos to show you how to get Essential views working, and to help you understand relationships within Essential.

Our enterprise architecture tool also has a number of added features, such as multi-language. We already support, UK English and US English, German, French, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic. 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.

How do you Integrate with Essential?

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

"Just a brilliant, brilliant tool"