Enterprise Architecture erwin Expert Blog

6 Steps to Building a Great Enterprise Architecture Practice

Enterprise architecture provides business and IT alignment by mapping applications, technologies and data to the value streams and business functions they support. It defines business capabilities and interdependencies as they relate to enterprise strategy, bridging the gap between ideation and implementation.

An effective enterprise architecture framework provides a blueprint for business and operating models, identifies risks and opportunities, and enables the creation of technology roadmaps. Simply put, it enables IT and business transformation by helping technology and business innovation leaders focus on achieving successful, value-driven outcomes.

As an enterprise moves and shifts, enterprise architecture is central to managing change and addressing key issues facing organizations. Today, enterprises are trying to grow and innovate – while cutting costs and managing compliance – in the midst of a global pandemic.


How Enterprise Architecture Guides QAD

Scott Lawson, Director of IT Architecture for QAD, which provides ERP and other adaptive, cloud-based enterprise software and services for global manufacturing companies, recently shared how he and his company use enterprise architecture for “X-ray vision into the enterprise.”

“We use the architecture of the moment, the stuff that we have in our website to understand what the enterprise is today. It is what it is today, and then we move and use that information to figure out what it’s going to be tomorrow. But we don’t have this compare and contrast because it’s a reference,” he said.

QAD uses the Zachman Framework, which is considered an “ontology” or “schema” to help organize enterprise architecture artifacts, such as documents, specifications and models, which has helped them build a strong practice.

Based on QAD’s success, Lawson explains the six steps that any organization can take to solidify its enterprise architecture:

1. Define your goals. (WHO) While Zachman poses this as the final question, QAD opted to address it first. The reason for the “why” was not only to have a vision into the enterprise, but to change it, to do something about it, to make it better and more efficient. The goal for enterprise architecture for QAD was to add visibility. They cataloged all their systems and what departments used them, and how they communicated with one another, and built a large physical map with all of the information.

2. Define the objects you will collect. (WHAT) Lawson says, “the zero step there is to determine what things you’re going to make a list of. You can’t make a list of everything.”

3. Define your team and the methods to build the pieces. (HOW) There are fundamental questions to ask: How are you going to create it? Are you going to do it manually? Are you going to buy a tool that will collect all the information? Are you going to hire consultants? What are the methods you’re going to use, and how are you going to build those pieces together? Lawson advises that enterprise architecture needs to be a consistent practice. His team does some architecture every day.

4. Define your team and stakeholders. (WHO) Who is going to be the recipient of your architecture, and who is going to be the creator of your architecture? When building a great practice, involve other departments, suggests Lawson. While his department is IT, they reach out to a lot of other departments around the company and ask them about their processes and document those processes for them.

5. Define the tools, artifacts and deliverables. (WHERE) According to Lawson, you have to define where this information is going to exist, what tools you are going to use, and what artifacts and deliverables you are going to produce. He pointed out that an artifact is different than a deliverable. It’s a single unit of things (e.g., one artifact might be a list of servers), while deliverables are typically sent out as diagrams and reports, but it’s a good idea to define them upfront.

6. Define time scale of models: As is, to be, both or one off. (WHEN) What time scale do you want? QAD does an “as-is” architecture (e.g., what is happening today). The company keeps it up to date by collecting information from multiple systems in an automated fashion.

Using erwin Evolve

QAD is an erwin Evolve customer. erwin Evolve is a full-featured, configurable set of enterprise architecture and business process modeling and analysis tools. With it, you can map IT capabilities to the business functions they support and determine how people, processes, data, technologies and applications interact to ensure alignment in achieving enterprise objectives.

With erwin Evolve you can:

  • Harmonize enterprise architecture/business process modeling capabilities for greater visibility, control and intelligence in managing any use case.
  • Quickly and easily explore model elements, links and dependencies.
  • Identify and understand the impact of changes. Increase employee education and awareness, helping maintain institutional knowledge.
  • Democratize content to facilitate broader enterprise collaboration for better decision-making.
  • Achieve faster time to actionable insights and value with integrated views across initiatives.
  • Record end-to-end processes and assign responsibilities and owners to them.
  • Improve performance and profitability with harmonized, optimized and visible processes.

To replay QAD’s session from the erwin Insights global conference on enterprise modeling and data governance and intelligence, which covers the six steps above and more about their use of enterprise architecture and erwin Evolve, click here.

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Enterprise Architecture erwin Expert Blog

Enterprise Architecture vs. Data Architecture

Although there is some crossover, there are stark differences between data architecture and enterprise architecture (EA). That’s because data architecture is actually an offshoot of enterprise architecture.

In this post:

See also: The Difference Between Enterprise Architecture and Solutions Architecture 

The Difference Between Data Architecture and Enterprise Architecture

In simple terms, EA provides a holistic, enterprise wide overview of an organization’s assets and processes, whereas data architecture gets into the nitty gritty.

The difference between data architecture and enterprise architecture can be represented with the Zachman Framework. The Zachman Framework is an enterprise architecture framework that provides a formalized view of an enterprise across two dimensions.

Data architecture and Enterprise Architecture - The Zachman Framework

The first deals with interrogatives (who, when, why, what, and how – columns). The second deals with reification (the transformation of an abstract idea into concrete implementation – rows/levels).

We can abstract the interrogatives from the columns, into data, process, network, people, timing and motivation perspectives.

So, in terms of the Zachman Framework, the role of an enterprise architect spans the full schema.

Whereas a data architect’s scope is mostly limited to the “What”(data) and from a system model/logical (level 3) perspective.

The Value of Data Architecture

We’re working in a fast-paced digital economy in which data is extremely valuable. Those that can mine it and extract value from it will be successful, from local organizations to international governments. Without it, progress will halt.

Good data leads to better understanding and ultimately better decision-making. Those organizations that can find ways to extract data and use it to their advantage will be successful.

However, we really need to understand what data we have, what it means, and where it is located. Without this understanding, data can proliferate and become more of a risk to the business than a benefit.

Data architecture is an important discipline for understanding data and includes data, technology and infrastructure design.

Data Architecture and Data Modeling

Data modeling is a key facet of data architecture and is the process of creating a formal model that represents the information used by the organization and its systems.

It helps you understand data assets visually and provides a formal practice to discover, analyze and communicate the assets within an organization.

There are various techniques and sets of terminology involved in data modeling. These include conceptual, logical, physical, hierarchical, knowledge graphs, ontologies, taxonomies, semantic models and many more.

Data modeling has gone through four basic growth periods:

Early data modeling, 1960s-early 2000s.

With the advent of the first pure commercial database systems, both General Electric and IBM came up with graph forms to represent and communicate the intent of their own databases. The evolution of programming languages had a strong influence on the modeling techniques and semantics.

Relational data modeling, 1970s.
Edgar F. Codd published ideas he’d developed in the late 1960s and offered an innovative way of representing a database using tables, columns and relations. The relations were accessible by a language. Much higher productivity was achieved, and IBM released SQL (structured query language).

Relational model adoption, 1980s. The relational model became very popular, supported by vendors such as IBM, Oracle and Microsoft. Most industries adopted the relational database systems and they became part of the fabric of every industry.

Growth of non-relational models, 2008-present. With increasing data volumes and digitization becoming the norm, organizations needed to store vast quantities of data regardless of format. The birth of NoSQL databases provided the ability to store data that is often non-relational, doesn’t require rigor or schema and is extremely portable. NoSQL databases are well- suited for handling big data.

Data modeling is therefore more necessary than ever before when dealing with non-relational, portable data because we need to know what data we have, where it is, and which systems use it.

The Imperative for Data Architecture and Enterprise Architecture

The location and usage of data are key facets of EA. Without the context of locations, people, applications and technology, data has no true meaning.

For example, an “order” could be viewed one way by the sales department and another way to the accounting department. We have to know if we are dealing with a sales order from an external customer or an order placed by our organization to the supply chain for raw goods and materials.

Enterprise architecture tools can be leveraged to manage such processes.

Organizations using enterprise architecture tools such as erwin Evolve can  synergize EA with wider data governance and management efforts. That means a clear and full picture of the whole data lifecycle in context, so that the intersections between data and the organization’s assets is clear.

You can even try erwin Evolve for yourself and keep any content you produce should you decide to buy.

Enterprise architecture review

Enterprise Architecture erwin Expert Blog

Types of Enterprise Architecture Frameworks: ArchiMate, TOGAF, DoDAF and more

In enterprise architecture, there are a number of different types of enterprise architecture frameworks, tailored to meet specific business and/or industry needs.

What is an Enterprise Architecture Framework?

An enterprise architecture framework is a standardized methodology that organizations use to create, describe and change their enterprise architectures.

Enterprise architecture (EA) itself describes the blueprint and structure of an organization’s systems and assets. It’s needed to make informed changes that help bridge the gap between the enterprise architecture’s current and desired future state.

Just like any building or infrastructure project, EA has different stakeholders and plan views.

You wouldn’t build a house without understanding the building’s architecture, plumbing, electrical and ground plans all within the context of each other.

So enterprise architecture provides the plans for different views of the enterprise, and EA frameworks describe the standard views an organization can expect to see.

What Makes Up An Enterprise Architecture Framework?

The EA discipline views an organization as having complex and intertwined systems. Effective management of such complexity and scale requires tools and approaches that architects can use.

An enterprise architecture framework provides the tools and approaches to abstract this information to a level of detail that is manageable. It helps bring enterprise design tasks into focus and produces valuable architecture documentation.

The components of an enterprise architecture framework provide structured guidance for four main areas:

1. Architecture description – How to document the enterprise as a system from different viewpoints

Each view describes one domain of the architecture; it includes those meta-types and associations that address particular concerns of interest to particular stakeholders; it may take the form of a list, a table, a chart, a diagram or a higher level composite of such.

2. Architecture notation – How to visualize the enterprise in a standard manner

Each view can be represented by a standard depiction that is understandable and communicable to all stakeholders. One such notation is ArchiMate from The Open Group.

3. Design method – The processes that architects follow

Usually, an overarching enterprise architecture process, composed of phases, breaks into lower-level processes composed of finer grained activities.

A process is defined by its objectives, inputs, phases (steps or activities) and outputs. Approaches, techniques, tools, principles, rules and practices may support it. Agile architecture is one set of supporting techniques.

4. Team organization – The guidance on the team structure, governance, skills, experience and training needed

Kanban boards and agile architecture can help provide team structure, governance and best practices.

Types of Enterprise Architecture Frameworks

There are a number of different types of enterprise architecture frameworks. Here are some of the most popular:


An Open Group architecture framework this is widely used and includes a notation for visualizing architecture. It may be used in conjunction with TOGAF.


The Open Group Architecture Framework that is widely used and includes an architectural development method and standards for describing various types of architecture.


The Department of Defense Architecture Framework that is the standard for defense architectures in the United States.


The Ministry of Defense Architecture Framework that is the standard for defense architectures in the United Kingdom.


The NATO Architecture Framework that is the standard adopted by NATO allies.


A Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework issued by the U.S. CIO Council. FEA, the Federal Enterprise Architecture, provides guidance on categorizing and grouping IT investments as issued by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

Zachman Framework

A classification scheme for EA artifacts launched in the early 1980s by John Zachman, who is considered the father of EA.


Telemanagement Forum is the standard reference mode for telecommunication companies.

Enterprise architecutre frameworks: The Zachman Framework

What’s the Best Enterprise Architecture Framework?

Although this might be somewhat of a non-answer, it’s the only one that rings true: the best enterprise architecture framework is the one that’s most relevant to your organization, and what you’re trying to achieve.

Each different type of enterprise architecture framework has its particular benefits and focus. For example, there are types of enterprise architecture frameworks best suited for organizations concerned with defense.

Having a good understanding of what the different types of EA framework are, can help an organization better understand better understand which EA framework to apply.

Ultimately, organizations will benefit most, from an enterprise architecture management system (EAMS) that supports multiple EA frameworks. This way, the most relevant enterprise architecture framework is always available.

How to Implement an Enterprise Architecture Framework

So you’ve established you need an enterprise architecture framework and assessed the different types of enterprise architecture frameworks, but how should you go about implementing and managing your chosen framework?

The answer? Using an enterprise architecture management suite (EAMS).

An EAMS is used to facilitate the management of an organization’s EA. It adds uniformity and structure, whereas many organizations had previously taken an ad-hoc approach.

And enterprise architecture tools are becoming increasingly important.

Thanks to the rate of digital transformation and the increasing abundance of data organizations have to manage, organizations need more mature, formal approaches to enterprise architecture.

Organization’s seeking to introduce an EAMS, should evaluate which frameworks the technology supports.

With erwin Evolve, users can expect a wide range of support for different types of enterprise architecture frameworks among other benefits, such as:

  • Remote collaboration
  • High-performance, scalable and centralized repository
  • Ability to harmonize EA and business process use cases, with a robust, flexible and Web-based modeling and diagramming interface

erwin Evolve was included in Forrester’s “Now Tech: Enterprise Architecture Management Suites for Q1 2020” report.

To understand why erwin excels in the large vendor category, you can see for yourself by starting a free trial of erwin’s Enterprise Architecture & Business Process Modeling Software.

EA Tool with support for enterprise architecture frameworks

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