Saturday, September 14, 2013

EA Methodology vs. EA Framework

A framework typically bundles a methodology with a meta-model and a bunch of artifact-templates.

EA methodology and framework are sometimes being used interchangeably. A framework is a structure, a logical way to classify, segment, categorize, or maintain something, it is a noun. A method is an action, a way of doing something. It would describe a process or set of procedures, activities, and a series of outputs along the way. This is more of a verb. More specifically, what are the differences between these two concepts? Should a methodology be tailored to suit the needs of an enterprise?

1. Definition of EA Framework & Methodology 

The framework is a structure for organizing information that defines the scope of the architecture and how the different areas within this structure relate to each other.

Methodology, on the other hand, defines the artifacts associated with these areas defined by a framework and how this documentation is going to be used.

From Wikipedia:

"Methodology is usually a guideline system for solving a problem, with specific components such as phases, tasks, methods, techniques, and tools. It can be defined also as follows: The analysis of the principles of methods, rules, and postulates employed by a discipline." 

“An enterprise architecture framework (EA framework) defines how to create and use an enterprise architecture. An architecture framework provides principles and practices for creating and using the architecture description of a system. It structures architects' thinking by dividing the architecture description into domains, layers or views, and offers models - typically matrices and diagrams - for documenting each view.”

In TOGAF, the methodology has been defined as:

"A defined, repeatable series of steps to address a particular type of problem, which typically centers on a defined process, but may also include the definition of content." 

On the other hand, TOGAF defines Framework as:
"A structure for content or process that can be used as a tool to structure thinking, ensuring consistency and completeness."

Methodology and Framework have been defined, in the book "An Introduction to Enterprise Architecture by Scott A Bernard ", as

"The EA methodology defines how EA documentation will be developed, archived, and used; including the selection of a framework, modeling tools, and on-line repository."

"EA Framework is a structure for organizing information that defines the scope of the architecture (what the EA program will document) and how the areas of the architecture relate to each other."

2.  EA Modeling as Meta-Physics of the Organization 

Methodology contrast to philosophy, it's more about: Specialization vs. Generalization, Task vs. Concept. There are also distinctions between method, methodology, and meta-methodology:

  • The method is a (typically) step-by-step instruction on what to do when, with what expected-result etc
  • The methodology is a suite of methods, with some description about how to choose which method for what context, and usually some description about how to adapt methods for different contexts. 
  • Meta-methodology is a suite of methods for outlining, describing and defining methodologies
  • A framework typically bundles a methodology with a meta-model and a bunch of artifact-templates 
The easy parts of enterprise-architecture focus on method. The more interesting (and necessary) parts of EA focus on methodology (as per TOGAF and its accompanying 'best-practices' etc). The most interesting, most useful and most challenging parts of EA focus more on meta-methodology - and on how to use all of that in real-world practice.

All those concepts intend to find patterns from randomness, build orders from chaos, capture insight from knowledge, enforce standard from the multitude, but they also need to be tailored to fit various situations. You are always managing the trade-off between methodological rigor and the constraints of the project and enterprise.

3. Should a methodology be tailored to suit the needs of an enterprise? 

EA is situational; the methodologies you leverage should also be situational. In practice, a methodology may have high-level elements, common to all cases, which are non-tailor-able and lower-level elements that are mainly indicative and tailor-able. The methodology itself is not a success factor but any methodology is better than none.

Therefore tailor and adapt an EA methodology to fit your situation rather than religiously follow a proven approach. A methodology will give you a set of tools to make a given situation more predictable but they are only tools. They need to be intelligently applied in context to deliver value - and the more complex the enterprise or business, the more tools you'll need in your toolbox. Tailor the methodology to suit the needs of your enterprise. Every business is different; it would be foolhardy to believe that an "off-the-shelf" methodology for planning will suit any business. 

The methodology should be adaptable. The objectives, resources and time requirement of the methodology must be matched to the objectives, resources and time allotment of the business. It should be compatible with the culture and politics of the enterprise. The methodology includes the selection of the framework as well. So methodology would be an area where it will have to be tweaked to meet the needs of an organization. If under EA discipline, methodology refers to a different type of frameworks, then tailored methodologies mean hybrid EA model; under the EA framework, there are
Principle - a general guideline that requires judgment and informs decisions
Policy – clear governable rules. Not following these skills a project (or worse).
Standard – specific requirements that projects/artifacts/roadmaps shall meet.
Procedure – standardized activities and deliverables to reduce risk and minimize errors.
Guideline – best practices and reference models that we collectively agree will improve delivery, quality, and reduce cost.


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