How to keep Architectural Blueprints up-to-date with (almost) zero effort
Prof. Pedro Sousa
Technical University Lisbon and Link Consulting, Portugal
A major issue in almost every Enterprise Architecture (EA) projects is how to keep Architectural blueprints up-to-date and “alive” given the fact that organization artefact’s keep changing. Enterprise Architecture blueprints (or models) are kept in some knowledge base supported by some Enterprise Architecture tools. Regardless of the Enterprise architecture framework adopted (TOGAF, or any other), it requires intensive human effort to keep such Enterprise Architecture blueprints up-to-date. This effort tends to be relaxed and consequently blueprints tend to become obsolete over time.
This presentation aims to describe an approach to keep EA blueprints up-to-date with almost zero human effort. This is a result of ten years of research of academic research and professional experience that has been consolidated in the last two years. We have applied this approach, in whole or in parts, in three large banks in Portugal and Brazil with very good results. The results and lessons learned are tool or framework independent, even thought we have done the job with a given commercial EA tool..
In order to keep blueprints updated one must basically have a way to do the following tasks with zero or a minimum human effort:
- Discover and track changes in the organization artefacts
- Feed the knowledge base with such changes
- Update the blueprints.
The first item is mostly a process and methodology issue. We will present our methodology and how it was applied in the 3 real cases. Basically one must discover the moments and places to place “sensors” in the planning/development process to collect data about what will change and what is changing (future and present). Typically it is enough one or two key formal moments to ensure that changes are known: when a project’s architecture is produced, and when artefacts produced are put into production.
The second issue is mostly a way to capture and feed information in textual (xml) format rather than in graphical models. Blueprints are a nice way to pass information to humans, but are not suited at all for machines. We present several cases where solutions were much simpler than they appear in the first place.
Finally, the third issue is mostly the ability to generate architectural blueprints (graphical) from textual information. In general, this is an impossible or at least a very difficult issue, but we have learned that most of the important and relevant architectural blueprints for IT planning and governance are indeed very easy to generate. The blueprints we have generated have a time bar, allowing blueprints contents to change from the past architecture to the planned one.
Pedro Sousa (PhD) is an Associate Professor at Technical University of Lisbon, where teaches Enterprise Architecture (EA) courses and has more than fifty EA publications. He is also a researcher at Organizational Engineering group at Inov (www.inov.pt) and a senior consultant at Link Consulting (www.link.pt) and has bee responsible for more than twenty EA projects in real organizations for the past fifteen years.
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