In the past several years, I have been working with the Zachman Framework for classifying and organizing architecture artefacts. Zachman is quite popular as a framework in large enterprises such as governments, big banks, utilities, etc. because it is seen as a comprehensive way to manage the architecture process.
In the past year or so, I have been switching over to TOGAF which is a competing EA framework. In comparing the two frameworks, I have found it to be fundamentally more useful in my line of work for a simple reason – TOGAF is a process for managing architecture change, while Zachman is a taxonomy for capturing the current state of an enterprise (exhaustively seems to be the goal).
Roger Session’s wrote a good article comparing various EA frameworks, and I agree with his conclusion – Zachman is really a taxonomy and TOGAF describes processes.
The TOGAF process is described by the Architecture Development Method (ADM) :
The ADM has some interesting features that make it more relevant to evolving enterprises:
- The ADM is fundamentally iterative, both within a single cycle and through repeated iterations of the full cycle.
- TOGAF provides a prescription for storing, classifying and managing architecture artefacts and solution building blocks at various levels of detail and maturity, promoting an incremental approach to enterprise architecture.
- Along with the ADM, TOGAF prescribes many tools for capturing requirements, defining/designing architectures and implementing governance practices.
- The process is explicitly business and stakeholder focused – there is a recognition that architecture has to have a business purpose and not just be for its own sake.
- TOGAF explicitly allows borrowing from other frameworks, adapting and tailoring the framework to suit the needs of the business, etc. So if you still want to use your Zachman Grid, you can continue to do so.
Zachman, in contrast, is about capturing state in a structured way. It provides no guidance on HOW to do architecture design, HOW to introduce change or HOW to improve the architectural maturity of an organization. It simply provides the model for storing architecture artefacts.
Zachman also has no guidance for incorporating processes into an architecture state – there is no spot in the grid for defining change management processes, operations processes (e.g. ITIL), project management processes, etc. TOGAF in contrast compliments these processes quite nicely:
In my work, I am finding TOGAF to be an effective framework for working with stakeholders through strategic planning and architecture work, especially for organizations who are actively transforming themselves. It allows me to define a process for managing the architecture change in a structured manner through an iterative change cycle. Stakeholders see a PROCESS that involves them through change and growth in their organization’s maturity.