TOGAF® vs. Zachman Framework

If you think of competition between tools, one of the  most common competitions for enterprise architecture frameworks is TOGAF vs. Zachman Framework. Both frameworks promote creativity in firms that demand a seamless segmented structure and a competent approach to enterprise architecture. So how do these two frameworks compare? What is TOGAF® and what is the Zachman Framework? How can enterprise architects choose which of the two suits them most?

When you talk about enterprise architecture, you can’t fail to mention the frameworks that govern the practice. We developed Enterprise Architecture frameworks to address the increasing demand for the integration of technology into businesses.

We know that when we say frameworks, automatically the majority think TOGAF®. After all, for nearly two decades, enterprise architects have used the TOGAF framework as an industry standard. Although TOGAF is, by all means, a prominent framework, there are other frameworks as well.

We are going to highlight these and many more questions that you might have. By the end of this article, you will have everything you need to know about TOGAF and the Zachman Framework.

What is The Zachman Framework?

The Zachman framework developed by John Zachman in 1987 is not a conventional methodology, rather it’s a template that describes how diverse ideas are perceived from equally unique standpoints. The Zachman framework comprises a set of management rules that are further presented to the organizations in a 36-cell table format.

The Zachman framework drives a good architect to explain “Who, What, Where, When, How, Why” to different clientele. The Zachman framework is presented in a 36-cell two-dimensional matrix comprising six columns and six rows. The rows indicate the perspectives while the columns represent the fundamental questions. The matrix is quite comprehensive and describes the representations of enterprises in a detailed and structured manner.

The Zachman framework is quite flexible to work on projects concerning any scope. Zachman prides itself in building relationships between different cells. It essentially isn’t about architecture only but helps organize and manage your IT infrastructure and integrate them into your business like any tool.

The rows and columns that make up the 36-cell matrix of the Zachman framework are as follows:

As mentioned earlier, the rows comprise the perspectives, which are the executive, business management, architect, engineer, technician, and enterprise perspectives.

  1. Executive Perspective – This describes the purpose of the enterprise architecture program concerning business strategy. It allows the planner to get information regarding the size and cost of the systems.
  2. Business Management Perspective – This describes the concepts in terms of enterprise models, design choices, and business processes adopted by the organization. The business management perspective is a useful tool for owners who want to understand every detail of their business operations. Moreover, the owners also get to know how the different processes interact.
  3. Architect Perspective – This describes the system logic recounting how business requirements will be met. The architect is responsible for determining how the software works and then representing the entire business model.
  4. Engineer Perspective – This describes how the technology physics concerning the technology solutions will be used to implement system choices. It ensures that the contractor uses specific techniques to address the persistent challenges within a business.
  5. Technician Perspective – This component describes the requirements regarding specific modular tooling components. It takes place when a programmer is offered instructions on how to carry forward.
  6. Enterprise Perspective – This is the functioning system as viewed by the user in its fully-fledged operational environment.

The columns on the other hand represent the fundamental questions which are; "What, Where, When, Who, and Why."

  1. What? – This represents the whole enterprise data that each row would deal with.
  2. Where? – This is all about logistics, geographical locations, and interconnections.
  3. When? This represents events and business cycles that trigger business activities.
  4. How? – This represents the process flows and how the business performs.
  5. Who? – This represents the interaction and organizational units between both technology and other individuals.
  6. Why – This represents overall strategies and business goals into specific means.

The matrix format represents actors and their relationships with decision criteria.

With all these said, let's now look at Zachman's chief competitor.

What is The TOGAF Framework?

We cannot talk about the TOGAF Framework without highlighting its history. The framework by The Open Group was first published in 1995 and was based on the working principles and approaches of the Technical Architecture Framework for Information Management (TAFIM).

The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF®) is an industry-leading standard for developing, maintaining, and using enterprise architecture. Over 300 member companies of The Open Group's Architecture Forum collaboratively developed it. The TOGAF framework allows enterprise architects to do their jobs faster.

It is important to note that, the enterprise architecture profession exists to help organizations change. Because organizations are multifarious in terms of their core business and challenges met, enterprise architecture helps identify the best way forward.

TOGAF offers a systematic and step-by-step architecture implementation for modernizing companies all over the world. It aids organizations in creating a roadmap or outline for iterative and rapid architecture development. The TOGAF framework is adaptable, open, and allows leading organizations to scale their businesses.

The Architectural Development Method (ADM) which is a critical element of TOGAF attributed to the framework’s massive success. What makes ADM such a huge success is that it is highly adaptable and records according to the user’s unique requirements. There are several distinct stages of ADM in TOGAF, which we are going to summarize below.

TOGAF ADM Phases Summary

  1. Preliminary Stage – This defines the concerns, requirements, and principles for any future architecture within an organization.
  2. Architecture Vision Phase – This stage involves understanding the problem and choosing an architecture scope and methodology that aligns with stakeholders. It is at this stage that you find out how your stakeholders will judge the fitness of the enterprise architecture. You also test a summary of the target architecture and work to confirm they are interested in proceeding.
  3. Business Architecture Phase – Here the framework uses methods to describe an ideal architecture vision. You use the same problem identified, the stakeholders, criteria, and summary. Explore what changes are necessary for the business architecture and assess any changes with stakeholders' key criteria.
  4. Information Systems Architecture Phase – With the same information from the previous phases, use this to model the whole application and data architecture. Ensure that you assess changes with stakeholders' key criteria.
  5. Technology Architecture Phase – Keep in mind the same steps from the earlier phases. In this phase, the entire description of the system is transformed into architecture implementation. Do not forget to assess stakeholders' key criteria.
  6. Opportunities and Solutions Phase – This phase is also informed by the information from previous phases. It defines the essential steps for changing the present-day architecture for targeting the implementation plan. Therefore, in this stage, you gather all changes required in the enterprise architecture and bundle them into work packages. You then find interim value delivery in transition architecture. In this phase you assess the expected value and effort of the work packages with the stakeholder's key criteria.
  7. Implementation (Migration) Plan Phase – We cannot reiterate this enough; you should always use the information from previous stages in all subsequent phases. This phase describes the estimated timeline, costs, and roadmap implementation. Take the architecture roadmap and work with planners to assign resources and schedule the work. Ensure that you assess the changes on stakeholders' key criteria. Engage with the stakeholders and find out if they want to proceed with the change.
  8. Implementation Governance Phase – In this phase, you assign governance functionalities during distinctive stages of the architecture deployment. Use the changes, value measures, and constraints developed in the enterprise architecture (i.e. Phase B, C, D, and E). Ensure that the change implementers focus on expected value, a similar problem, and are working within all architecture requirements. Report compliance and provide stakeholders with recommendations to reach the expected value whenever there is an issue.
  9. Architecture Change Management Phase – This stage provides intense monitoring for business and technology changes. You are required to assess the complete set of changes with the stakeholder’s key criteria. Wherever the project falls short, your organization’s environment changes, or new possibilities arise, we advise you to restart from the first phase while aiming to capture the new opportunity.

The TOGAF framework had been adopted by over 60% of total Fortune 500 businesses because of its extensiveness as of 2016. This figure has obviously ballooned over recent years. It is also praised for its high adaptability, agility, and ability to foster collaboration.

TOGAF® vs Zachman Framework

This here is a difficult comparison; it is more of TOGAF plus Zachman since they both complement each other. However, a key distinction between TOGAF and Zachman is that the latter prioritizes creating awareness and providing viewers with a holistic overview of perspectives and relationships across an enterprise. The Zachman framework doesn’t provide any actual implementation guidelines for creating architectural artifacts.

Let’s then conduct a brief comparison between the two frameworks and highlight some of the unique features of each framework.

Key Features Compared


  • It solves problems within the organization by fostering synchronized communication between all stakeholders.
  • The TOGAF framework is highly adaptable and versatile in implementation.
  • TOGAF considers how to align a company’s goals together with the administration’s.
  • It offers a far more practical and beneficial approach.
  • It aids the best implementation of enterprise software in the most orderly and structured manner.
  • It has significant credibility and has a high level of market trust today.
  • The Architecture Development Method (ADM) is a critical element of TOGAF and is a powerful tool.
  • Sometimes the TOGAF framework might be perceived as slow and thus users have to administratively modify the framework’s structure.
  • It is an open and free-to-read framework that originates from a massive community.


  • The framework has a wide array of related tools that different users can utilize.
  • It enhances communication at an individual level right inside the information system.
  • It has one of the most cutting-edge ways of creating unique representations of structures.
  • The Zachman framework can give rise to a documentation-heavy approach.
  • There’s a segment of professionals who do not accept the framework in expert practice.
  • Users don't need to start from the top cell downwards. This means that you are free to choose to start from any cell and then further iterate from that point.
  • The framework still follows the conventional techniques that revolve around data.

Pros and Cons of The TOGAF and Zachman Frameworks

Like all other things, these two frameworks are not perfect, meaning that both frameworks have their strengths and their shortcomings. The following are some of the pros and cons of the frameworks:

Pros of TOGAF

  • One of the biggest advantages of the Open Group's framework is that it provides a straightforward, step-by-step method for designing enterprise architecture. This makes it simple to use and results in massive savings of resources by organizations.
  • It is simple to use and consists of extensive documentation, meaning that IT administrators within organizations will have minimal issues when it comes to maintaining the IT architecture once it’s implemented.
  • TOGAF® is the world’s most popular Enterprise Architecture framework, and it provides a standardized architecture development process and uniform descriptions of parts and deliverables. This means that the TOGAF framework is easily transferable across various sectors and business units.
  • The framework is not a one-size-fits-all framework but it is flexible and highly adaptable meaning that it may be used together with other frameworks. This means that TOGAF can be used entirely or partially depending on the company’s needs.

Pros of Zachman

  • The framework aids the improvement of communication among professionals in the information systems field.
  • It allows organizations to recognize the benefits and drawbacks of not developing a single architectural depiction.
  • The Zachman framework facilitates comparing and contrasting a wide range of tools and approaches in the practice of enterprise architecture.
  • One of the Zachman framework's greatest successes is the awareness that there is no single unified design that fits everyone's needs.
  • The framework also denotes the importance of developing better methods (including processes and tools) used for producing architectural representations.

Cons of TOGAF

  • Learning and implementing TOGAF in a bubble and solitude is difficult. It is a requirement that individuals take up a training course after which they get TOGAF® Certification. This certification proves that an individual has learned the principles of the framework and how to implement it.
  • Owing to the complex nature and technique of the framework, it might necessitate the involvement of a complete team to successfully implement. This group covers both labor and other resources needed.
  • Pre-design functions are formalized in the framework, restricting the space for experimentation and modification.

Cons of Zachman

  • The Zachman framework tends to favor traditional, data-centric methodologies. This explains its widespread use in the data field.
  • The framework isn’t popular in the development community and few developers have even heard of it.
  • It might result in a document-heavy strategy. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Zachman Enterprise Architecture Framework

TOGAF or Zachman – Choosing the Best Enterprise Framework

As highlighted, there is no perfect framework, and the choice of which one to use entirely depends on the approach of your organization. Both the Zachman and TOGAF frameworks are useful enterprise architecture tools and they both have their strengths as well as their shortcomings.

The TOGAF framework offers a systematic approach to defining the entire enterprise architecture process. The Architecture Development Method (ADM) which is a distinctive element in the TOGAF framework empowers the implementation of the framework through the set-out procedures which facilitate any decision-making processes and produce the desired business model.

On the other hand, the Zachman framework is all about ontology. This means that it is a set of organized statements defining how objects can be classified, generated, used, and altered. The framework leverages a variety of enterprise perspectives to scope, define, and plan specific components of an enterprise system.

It is completely up to an organization to select which framework would best fit their specific needs. Some organizations even decide not to undertake the difficult choice by amalgamating the frameworks and getting the full benefits of what they both offer.

Zachman Architecture Framework

TOGAF vs. Zachman Conclusion

The question of TOGAF vs Zachman is a difficult one to call. Experts even advise that to get the best of both worlds you should use the frameworks in harmony. Despite the differences, distinctive methodologies, merits, and drawbacks of each framework they don't conflict or negate each other. Organizations that utilize both these frameworks have shown great success in the operation of their enterprise architecture.

We use Zachman in the first phase of TOGAF (Architecture Vision Phase) to ensure that we understand who we are serving and what materials we need to produce. If you want to kick start or improve your enterprise architecture career, you can do that with us through our TOGAF Training course. Once you undertake the course and pass The Open Group’s exams then you get certified.

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