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Alex P
Alex P

John Zachman at UK IIBA Meeting in February

John Zachman provided an extremely entertaining introduction to the Zachman framework followed by an update on forthcoming IIBA activities from Martyn Wilson, chairman of the IIBA.

John Zachman

Many of you will have heard of John Zachman as his framework has been around for thirty five years or so. It is used for that much discussed, little understood art/science of enterprise architecture (could be just speaking for myself here ;-)).

John provided us with a funny, engaging and compelling presentation which was peppered with amusing anecdotes and asides. As well as being entertaining, it was a very good introduction to enterprise architecture and, more importantly, the business case for enterprise architecture.

His starting slide (and we’re talking old school projector acetates – John betrayed his academic grounding here!) explained Enterprise Physics.

To sum up, he explained how enterprises are no different to anything else in the universe, they are subject to the laws of physics and, if ignored, you will feel pain. He described enterprise architecture as a long term, not a short term endeavour and our current problem (or pain) is chronic, not acute.

He went on to explain how enterprise architecture is perceived as an information technology issue for a couple of reasons:

i)                    The problem is raised by the IT department

ii)                   The skills to solve it exist in IT

In passing, John explained how the end objective of enterprise architecture is the manufacture of an enterprise, NOT an IT system. Also, he quoted Fred Brookes in the Mythical Man Month who explained how programming is manufacturing, NOT engineering.

John showed us a slide of the colliseum and explained how many people mistakenly perceive this as architecture. The architecture was completed some time before the first stone was dragged on to the site. The building is simply one instance of that architecture. In theory, many more could have been created.

Why do we need architecture?

John explained that we don’t need architecture when:

-          The object is unlikely to change

-          We can perceive it in its entirety at one time

-          It is simple

He explained why enterprise architecture is often perceived as an IT issue:

-          The problem is raised by the IT department

-          The skills to resolve it exist in the IT department

Alternatives to enterprise architecture

John explained three alternatives if we don’t have an enterprise architecture when embarking on a significant change within an organisation using the analogy of extending our room to seat 1500 from its current capacity of 100:

i)                    Change it anyway and take a risk. Make sure you don’t knock down any supporting walls!

ii)                   Reverse engineer the architecture. This will be a challenge – it might not be possible

iii)                 Knock it down and start again. Sounds drastic and expensive

John discussed how the Information Age is emerging from our current Industrial Age and how it is characterised by extreme complexity and extreme rates of change. In other words, our current challenges are only going to get worse.


Zachman framework

John explained the basis of the framework as a set of abstractions combine with a set of perspectives which form a matrix.


Zachman framework

This can be downloaded as a PDF from John's website.

There was a great deal more to John's presentation but you will find many of these messages reflected on his website.

As a final comment, the message John delivered was that it is undoubtedly a very hard and challenging job to commit to creating and maintaining an enterprise architecture. There are no short cuts, however, it is necessary and critical for an organisation to be successful.

IIBA Update

Martyn Wilson gave an update on events and items of interest to the IIBA membership as follows:

  • Conference is planned for 28th to 30th September
     with prices varying and big discounts available for multiple applicants or company applications. Prices before discount are £1,145 with discounts of 30% available (nothing on the website at the time of writing)

Conference objectives are -

  • increase awareness
  • deliver professional development opportunities
  • examine trends in the role
  • demonstrate how to be a high performing BA
  • promote and develop the community  

The type of subjects to be covered are:

  • Introduction to business analysis
  • Future of business analysis
  • Secrets of top performing BA's
  • BA success stories
  • Creating a BA community 

Finally, there are three 'directors at large' positions available. Nominations will be accepted from 16th March and will close at 30th March with an announcement at the end of April.

The next event will be presented by Steve Danby (head of business analysis at Prudential) on creating a successful business analysis community (25th March).


This entry was published on Mar 05, 2009 / Alex P. Posted in Enterprise Analysis (BABOK KA), IIBA & BABOK. Bookmark the Permalink or E-mail it to a friend.
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