Why do I feel the need to talk about enterprise architecture (EA) on an Enterprise Development page? Surely, as a practitioner friend told me recently, EA is for managers who want to interfere, not for practitioners who need to get the job done and actually build software? And there is some truth in that, I sometimes think that an 'architect' is often a 'systems analyst' with hubris issues (and salary to match) - and that EA is an (expensive) way of giving managers the comfortable illusion that they are in control of IT.
However that's just me being cynical (no, I'm not cynical; I just have experience of life). Those are two real EA anti-patterns, but there's a lot more to EA than that. Done right, EA is about building the right software (to support business outcomes and business management's vision for the business), not just about building software right.
Done properly, I think that EA models help to focus all stakeholders in automated business processes on productive 'business outcomes' and that these EA models should transform (with the addition of business detail around governance and risk management; and the technical detail needed to build software) into the automated technology systems that, these days, run the business (in conjunction with manual business decision processes etc., also derived from EA visions). An EA model is an aid to avoiding the waste associated with building the wrong systems; or building the right systems in the wrong business environment. It is also an aid to breaking down silos and fostering true collaboration between the business, IT and other stakeholders
I am particularly interested in open systems EA processes such as TOGAF, maintained by the Open Group; partly because I've seen what happens when top management gets locked into vendor-specific architectural approaches - that's another EA anti-pattern - and the consultancy that comes with them. To be fair, the big EA vendors are considerably more open these days, but I still think that TOGAF and its associated architectural modelling tool, ArchiMate, is a really good starting point for learning about EA (although it isn't quite the only open standards EA game in town these days - check out the OMG's UPDM unified architecture framework, for instance).
So, this article is to alert readers to a useful, free, educational resource for people that aren't yet familiar with EA approaches: the Case Experiences and Best Practices Using ArchiMate® and TOGAF® web seminar that you can find at The Open Group Bookstore here. This webinar was given by an EA practitioner from BiZZdesign and not only gives you an idea of how ArchiMate works (but there are other, more detailed, resources for this at the Bookstore), it also gives you an idea of the value that some organisations are getting out of EA.