What is an Architecture Framework

Most simply, an Architecture Framework provides the scaffolding to describe an enterprise architecture. Different architecture frameworks are optimized for different industries.

Two obvious examples of optimization are DODAF and IndEA. Both are designed to support enterprise architects to answer the most important questions their stakeholders face.

With very few exceptions architecture frameworks only support describing an architecture. This is a very important accelerator for an EA Team.

Good architecture frameworks are designed around central stakeholder questions, problems, or concerns. Different industries have different essential questions.

For example, DODAF, and its associated defence frameworks, are focused on addressing interoperability. Systems cost billions, take decades to put in place and must work with systems created decades ago, often by different agencies. You see the focus on managing all aspects of interoperability throughout DODAF.

Architecture Framework ComponentsTOGAF's Content Framework identifies what you should be looking for in a good architecture framework

  • What is your core problem
  • How you describe your architecture
  • How to realize the architecture

TOGAF's relationship to other architecture frameworks

Best Architecture Framework

There is not a universal best enterprise architecture framework. It is that simple.

When you find someone arguing about best, they are simply highlighting they have never worked in a different industry or had to address a different problem. They sound like a hammer looking for nails.

Best will be addressed by the intersection of industry and core problem space.

Industry frameworks tend to be optimized for their central industry problem.

Great industry frameworks exist for:

Defence: DODAF, DNDAF (Canada), MODAF (UK), and NAF (NATO)
Core problem - system interoperability

Government: FEAF (US), IndEA
Core problem - Duplication

Telecommunications: Frameworx
Core problem - Alignment of business and operational systems

Being able to address the core problem is critical for successful enterprise architecture. We often see people trying to develop, a custom enterprise architecture framework without understanding their core problem. Usually they devolve to trying to explain connections. This is a failure path.

Direct support for the core problem is why we designed Conexiam Navigate. Most of our commercial clients were struggling with coordinating change across the organization. This is especially true in a digital transformation. We didn't see an architecture framework that had great out-of-the-box support for change.

If you have an industry framework - use it. Otherwise section 8 of the EA Leader's Guide has guidance on configuring your architecture framework.

Why we reach for different Architecture Frameworks

We design and develop high-functioning EA Teams. Predictable EA consulting engagements are fast-paces structured engagements to quickly develop your team. We always reach for a reference material to speed-up getting a team functioning and delivering useful enterprise architecture.

Different architecture frameworks are optimized for different purposes. When the purpose of the framework aligns with your problem you accelerate your team. When they do not, nothing gets done. Poorly selected architecture framework requires higher-skilled architects to work harder.

Problem spaces and Architecture Frameworks

Specialized Architecture Frameworks

SABSA

BIAN

Avoidable Architecture Frameworks

We always guide our clients away from any architecture framework with commercial licensing requirements. You need to be able to take, modify, and distribute the framework and any work products.

Architecture frameworks that we cannot identify the problem they are designed to address are pointless. This includes the TOGAF Content Meta-Model. It does a decent job of supporting an explanation of what types of things you might be worried about, but like Archimate does not have a problem space it clarifies.

See the customer case study on applying Predictable EA and our EA Capability improvement method.

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