Knowledge Frameworks | Real IRM

Real IRM

Leading Enterprise Architecture Value™

The role of an EA Framework is to provide a logical structure for classifying and organising the descriptive representations (i.e., models) of an enterprise. The framework used to structure the contents of the EA Repository is that of John Zachman, the internationally acknowledged authority on EA.

The Zachman FrameworkThe Zachman Framework allows for the description of complex objects by addressing the objects from different perspectives within a framework. It structures models of the Enterprise or Information Management (IM) products, services or solutions from the perspective of various people (or roles) involved with conceptualising, managing or owning, designing, building and operating the system or business. In essence, the framework answers the fundamental questions of What, How, Where, Who, When and Why from differing role perspectives such as those of the functional director, project sponsor, business process owners, process specialists, developers and end-users.

Although the Zachman Framework applies to enterprises, the Framework itself is generic.  It is a comprehensive, logical structure for the descriptive representations (i.e. models, or design artefacts) of any complex object, and does not prescribe any particular method, representation technique, or automated tool.

The framework’s strength is that it provides a method of thinking about an enterprise in an organised way, so that it can be described and analysed.  It also enables the individuals involved in producing enterprise information systems to focus on selected aspects of the system, without losing sight of the overall enterprise context.  In designing and building complex systems, such as enterprise systems, there are simply too many details and relationships to consider simultaneously.

Knowledge FrameworksAt the same time, isolating single variables and making design decisions out of context would result in sub-optimisation, with all the attendant costs and risks.  The challenge is the same whether the system is physical, like a smelter, or conceptual, like an enterprise system. How should the system be designed and built, piece-by-piece, and step by step, so that it achieves its purpose without losing its value or raising its cost by optimising the pieces while sub-optimising the overall?

Experience has shown that organisations rapidly reach a critical mass of model content. At this stage a virtuous feedback-loop develops, as individuals perceive that they obtain more value than the cost of their personal contribution to the organisation’s knowledge base of models.  Business models are, for example, re-used for package selection, development and implementation; the same models are also used by the Audit and Risk Management function or Six Sigma business process improvement initiatives. The re-use of an existing model results in a 90-95% return on the development cost of the model.  

This systemic approach converts tacit knowledge about the enterprise, its strategies, products, processes and customers into explicit information that is actionable.


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