How are governments using various frameworks to improve their architectural planning and IT implementations?
Chris Armstrong, president of Armstrong Process Group, is here to help examine this question. He’ll be one of the main speakers at The Open Group Conference in Washington, D.C., which begins July 16 and will focus on enterprise architecture (EA), enterprise transformation and securing global supply chains.
Armstrong is an internationally recognized thought leader in EA, formal modeling, process improvement, systems and software engineering, requirements management and iterative and agile development.
He represents the Armstrong Process Group at The Open Group, the Object Management Group (OMG), and Eclipse Foundation. Armstrong also cochairs The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF) and Model Driven Architecture (MDA) process modeling efforts, and also the TOGAF 9 Tool Certification program, all at The Open Group.
At the conference, Armstrong will examine the use of TOGAF 9 to deliver Department of Defense (DoD) Architecture Framework or DoDAF 2 capabilities. And in doing so, we’ll discuss how to use TOGAF architecture development methods to drive the development and use of DoDAF 2 architectures for delivering new mission and program capabilities. His presentation will also be live-streamed free from The Open Group Conference. The discussion now is moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. [Disclosure: The Open Group is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
Listen to the podcast (25:20 minutes).
Here are some excerpts:
Dana Gardner: TOGAF and DoDAF, where have they been? Where are they going? And why do they need to relate to one another more these days?
Chris Armstrong: TOGAF [forms] a set of essential components for establishing and operating an EA capability within an organization. And it contains three of the four key components of any EA.
First, the method by which EA work is done, including how it touches other life cycles within the organization and how it’s governed and managed. Then, there’s a skills framework that talks about the skills and experiences that the individual practitioners must have in order to participate in the EA work. Then, there’s a taxonomy framework that describes the semantics and form of the deliverables and the knowledge that the EA function is trying to manage.
One of the great things that TOGAF has going for it is that, on the one hand, it’s designed to be a one-stop shop — namely providing everything that a end-user organization might need to establish an EA practice. But it does acknowledge that there are other components, predominantly in the various taxonomies and reference models, that various end-user organizations may want to substitute or augment.
It turns out that TOGAF has a nice synergy with other taxonomies, such as DoDAF, as it provides the backdrop for how to establish the overall EA capability, how to exploit it, and put it into practice to deliver new business capabilities.
Frameworks such as DoDAF focus predominantly on the taxonomy, mainly the kinds of things we’re keeping track of, the semantics relationships, and perhaps some formalism on how they’re structured. There’s a little bit of method guidance within DoDAF, but not a lot. So we see the marriage of the two as a natural synergy.
Gardner: So their complementary natures allows for more particulars on the defense side, but the overall TOGAF looks at the implementation method and skills for how this works best. Is this something new, or are we just learning to do it better?
Armstrong: I think we’re seeing the state of industry advance and looking at trying to have the federal government, both United States and abroad, embrace global industry standards for EA work. Historically, particularly in the U.S. government, a lot of defense agencies and their contractors have often been focusing on a minimalistic compliance perspective with respect to DoDAF. In order to get paid for this work or be authorized to do this work, one of our requirements is we must produce DoDAF.
People are doing that because they’ve been commanded to do it. We’re seeing a new level of awareness. There’s some synergy with what’s going on in the DoDAF space, particularly as it relates to migrating from DoDAF 1.5 to DoDAF 2.
Agencies need some method and technique guidance on exactly how to come up with those particular viewpoints that are going to be most relevant, and how to exploit what DoDAF has to offer, in a way that advances the business as opposed to just solely being to conforming or compliant?
Gardner: Have there been hurdles, perhaps culturally, because of the landscape of these different companies and their inability to have that boundary-less interaction. What’s been the hurdle? What’s prevented this from being more beneficial at that higher level?
Armstrong: Probably overall organizational and practitioner maturity. There certainly are a lot of very skilled organizations and individuals out there. However, we’re trying to get them all lined up with the best practice for establishing an EA capability and then operating it and using it to a business strategic advantage, something that TOGAF defines very nicely and which the DoDAF taxonomy and work products hold in very effectively.
Gardner: Help me understand, Chris. Is this discussion that you’ll be delivering on July 16 primarily for TOGAF people to better understand how to implement vis-a-vis, DoDAF, is this the other direction, or is it a two-way street?
Armstrong: It’s a two-way street. One of the big things that particularly the DoD space has going for it is that there’s quite a bit of maturity in the notion of formally specified models, as DoDAF describes them, and the various views that DoDAF includes.
We’d like to think that because of that maturity, the general TOGAF community can glean a lot of benefit from the experience they’ve had. What does it take to capture these architecture descriptions, some of the finer points about managing some of those assets. People within the TOGAF general community are always looking for case studies and best practices that demonstrate to them that what other people are doing is something that they can do as well.
We also think that the federal agency community also has a lot to glean from this. Again, we’re trying to get some convergence on standard methods and techniques, so that they can more easily have resources join their teams and immediately be productive and add value to their projects, because they’re all based on a standard EA method and framework.
One of the major changes between DoDAF 1 and DoDAF 2 is the focusing on fitness for purpose. In the past, a lot of organizations felt that it was their obligation to describe all architecture viewpoints that DoDAF suggests without necessarily taking a step back and saying, “Why would I want to do that?”
So it’s trying to make the agencies think more critically about how they can be the most agile, mainly what’s the least amount of architecture description that we can invest and that has the greatest possible value. Organizations now have the discretion to determine what fitness for purpose is.
Then, there’s the whole idea in DoDAF 2, that the architecture is supposed to be capability-driven. That is, you’re not just describing architecture, because you have some tools that happened to be DoDAF conforming, but there is a new business capability that you’re trying to inject into the organization through capability-based transformation, which is going to involve people, process, and tools.
One of the nice things that TOGAF’s architecture development method has to offer is a well-defined set of activities and best practices for deciding how you determine what those capabilities are and how you engage your stakeholders to really help collect the requirements for what fit for purpose means.
Gardner: As with the private sector, it seems that everyone needs to move faster. I see you’ve been working on agile development. With organizations like the OMG and Eclipse is there something that doing this well — bringing the best of TOGAF and DoDAF together — enables a greater agility and speed when it comes to completing a project?
Armstrong: Absolutely. When you talk about what agile means to the general community, you may get a lot of different perspectives and a lot of different answers. Ultimately, we at APG feel that agility is fundamentally about how well your organization responds to change.
If you take a step back, that’s really what we think is the fundamental litmus test of the goodness of an architecture. Whether it’s an EA, a segment architecture, or a system architecture, the architects need to think thoughtfully and considerately about what things are almost certainly going to happen in the near future. I need to anticipate, and be able to work these into my architecture in such a way that when these changes occur, the architecture can respond in a timely, relevant fashion.
We feel that while a lot of people think that agile is just a pseudonym for not planning, not making commitments, going around in circles forever, we call that chaos, another five letter word. But agile in our experience really demands rigor, and discipline.
Of course, a lot of the culture of the DoD brings that rigor and discipline to it, but also the experience that community has had, in particular, of formally modeling architecture description. That sets up those government agencies to act agilely much more than others.