TOGAF® ADM Phase A - Start at the Beginning with an Architecture Vision

To develop best practice enterprise architecture, start at the beginning of the TOGAF ADM with Phase A. Like every other TOGAF ADM Phase, you develop the knowledge necessary for part of the complete enterprise architecture.

In Phase A, you are setting yourself up for success. You clarify the problem, identify everyone who has interests that are fundamental to the problem, identify their priority and preference. Finally, develop an answer to the problem is acceptable to the Stakeholders.

There are several off-ramps from the TOGAF ADM. Phase A is an off-ramp. Celebrate when you stop all architecture development because there is no suitable architecture vision. Without stakeholder confidence in the path to value, the enterprise architecture team has saved the organization's scarce change resources.

TOGAF® ADM Phase A - Start at the Beginning with an Architecture Vision

At a glance

TOGAF ADM Overview

The TOGAF ADM is a method to develop knowledge. We focus every ADM Phase on developing specific knowledge required for an enterprise architecture. TOGAF ADM is the core of the TOGAF Standard. It is the only scalable universal method to develop enterprise architecture appropriate for every level of detail. Like all logical models, it needs to be expanded upon for different levels of detail - strategy, portfolio, project, and solution delivery.

We have an overview of the TOGAF ADM.

What is TOGAF ADM Phase A

The TOGAF ADM Phase A is the start of an Architecture Project that will develop some of your enterprise architecture. Yes, a project to develop some of your enterprise architecture.

The TOGAF ADM is inherently incremental. We develop just enough of your enterprise architecture at a time. We incrementally answer questions about the best path to improve your organization.

In Phase A, you are setting yourself up for success. You are gathering, or clarifying, the information necessary to succeed in this enterprise architecture development project. Success requires:

  • You know the problem
  • You know who has interests fundamental to the problem
  • You know your stakeholders' interests, priority, and any preference
  • You know any constraints from superior architecture

The central deliverable of Phase A is to develop a potential answer to the problem that is acceptable to the stakeholders.

Keep in mind the TOGAF ADM has several off-ramps. Phase A is one of the most important off-ramps. Not all problems are solvable. Not all solutions produce enough value. Use Architecture Alternatives to kill weak solutions. The sooner you know you have an answer that will never succeed, stop. Yes, STOP! Stop dead in your tracks. Then celebrate.

Every organization has more potential improvements than it can do. Every minute spent on a failure path steals resources from real improvement. When your stakeholders will not drive an improvement to completion and you stop the work, the enterprise architect has saved the organization's scarce change resources.

Path To Success

TOGAF ADM Phase A Deliverables

The central deliverable of Phase A is an Architecture Vision. Don't get confused by the word vision. An Architecture Vision is simply a summary answer to a stakeholder's problem. We develop it to the point we have enough knowledge to communicate to the key stakeholders how the problem they have assigned you can be solved and the work to change.

Completion of Phase A

All TOGAF ADM Phases lead you to developing the knowledge you need. The Outcome of Phase A is permission to proceed.

Output & Outcome Essential Knowledge
Sufficient documentation to get permission to proceed.

Permission to develop a Target Architecture to prove out the summary Target (Architecture Vision).

  • The scope of the problem being addressed.
  • Those who have interests that are fundamental to the problem being addressed. (Stakeholders & Concerns)
  • What summary answer to the problem is acceptable to the Stakeholders? (Architecture Vision)
  • Stakeholder priority and preference.
  • What value does the summary answer provide?

Table from TOGAF 10 TOGAF Series Guide: Enterprise Architect's Guide to Developing Architecture

Phase A Bare Bones

The bare bones of Phase A are:

  • Define the scope of the Architecture Project

Know exactly what the problem is. In terms of the EA Landscape (breadth and planning-horizon) and in terms of purpose (Strategy, Portfolio, Project, or Solution Delivery)

Know exactly where in the business cycle the decisions the architecture is supporting are..

  • Identify stakeholders, concerns, and associated requirements

Do a Stakeholder Map. Stakeholder class and Concern are all you need.

Make sure you explore the EA Repository for superior architecture constraints and guidance. Superior architecture always constrains you - this is the core of Architecture Governance.

  • Assess the capability of the Enterprise Architecture team

Take a hard look at yourself and the rest of your EA Team. Can deliver on this architecture development project? A well developed EA team covers gaps in experience, skill, and bias to deliver the architecture that is useful.

The completion essentials of Phase A:

  • Key stakeholder agreement on a summary of the target and the work to reach the target (Architecture Vision)

TOGAF Phase A Architecture Vision

An Architecture Vision is a summary. It is a summarized Candidate Target Architecture. You know the value generated by the candidate target. Your stakeholders must know the work to reach it. When they know the work, they can determine whether there is sufficient value to proceed.

When there is a reasonable reward for effort, you can proceed with the architecture development project. We perform the rest of the Architecture development project to confirm the assumptions and estimates made in Phase A.

Architecture to Support Strategy Architecture to Support Portfolio Architecture to Support Project Architecture to Support Solution Delivery
Phase A Work Product: Architecture Vision Key deliverable

Before framing of a strategic planning session

Refresh before initiation of program budgeting

Key deliverable

Before start of budget planning

Often not used

Activity to produce a vision overlaps with portfolio/program candidate architecture and architecture roadmap

Deliverable can be used at initiation of business case

Limited use

Primary use is prior to implementation cycle (via internal providers or execution partners)

Table from TOGAF 10 TOGAF Series Guide: Enterprise Architect's Guide to Developing Architecture

Training Path to success

TOGAF Phase Sets the Stage for Architecture Governance

Frankly, Phase A is routinely skipped. To the detriment of enterprise architecture teams. The enterprise architects rush forward to develop something timely and end up not developing something useful.

Architecture Governance first applies to architecture development. Architecture that is not governed during development cannot be used to govern implementation because it does not represent your organization.

The central point of architecture governance is direction and control. Phase A sets direction to the architects. They know the problem, the stakeholders, and constraints from superior architecture. Think about it - enabling enterprise agility is a cool problem. Enabling enterprise agility without risking existing products is a harder problem. Enabling enterprise agility without risking existing sales and minimizing change is a real problem.

Solve the real problem

Phase A is an off-ramp for a reason. There are always good improvement ideas that will fail. The time-line to benefit is too long, they need to change the unchangeable, they cost too much, the consume too many scare resources.

If key stakeholders won’t agree to drive the change at the hand-waving stage, they are unlikely to agree after a lot of work detailing a candidate target architecture that they do not want or that delivers too little value.

TOGAF ADM Phase A Guidelines and Techniques

Completing Phase A and developing an Architecture Vision requires exploring all the domains. This is not an exercise is PowerPointing a perfect future. This is an exercise in discovering the most difficult changes in every domain.

You must know where change is not an option to reach the target. Only with the set of the ugliest changes can your stakeholders decide whether to proceed.

In our enterprise architecture consulting, we talk about Phase A in terms of exercise and diet. You can't have the muscle tone if you won't go to the gym and change your diet. Look for the work. Look for the barriers.

Often, you will find work that leads to little reward. Or work that doesn't line-up with the problem. Change your target. Keep trimming until you have a useful vision. What you have done is enable architecture governance of implementation. Your minimum set of changes are the core of implementation governance.

By the way, it is a lot of fun to switch from being a change sales agent who touts the elusive benefits of every magical change. Switch to being a trusted advisor who can coldly look for the maximum value by finding the least-work path to the highest benefits.

Phase A requires developing a summary architecture, or architecture vision. To do that requires using the business architecture techniques, application architecture techniques, technology architecture techniques, and architecture roadmap techniques.

DIY Path to success

Final Thoughts on TOGAF ADM Phase A

Use Phase A to set yourself up for success. Start with a clear problem. Clear list of key stakeholders and concerns. Know the constraints from superior architecture.

Look at the capability of your EA Team. Be brutally honest. Can you deliver or do you need to develop your Enterprise Architecture Team?

While developing your architecture, look for off-ramps. Always look for reasons to stop. Every organization has more potential change than it can perform. Off ramps are successes. You have saved the organization's scarce change resources.

The Architecture Vision is just the first step. With the summary target and hints of a roadmap approved, you need to further develop the Business Architecture, Application Architecture, and Technology Architecture. Then combine the gap filling work packages into an action in TOGAF Phase E with an Architecture Roadmap.

Our firm prides itself on being a leader in enterprise architecture development and building high functioning enterprise architecture teams. We have helped many enterprises achieve their digital transformation goals. Our online enterprise architecture training platform targets different clients and keeps abreast of the latest trends and innovations. By working with us, you'll reach your visions and goals with minimal hassle.

Please contact us. With us, implementing the best enterprise architecture is a stress-free process.

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