EA Principles – July 2012

Constant changes in an organization often result in complex structures lacking coordination. Aligning BMC and EA helps conduct a more agile business innovation.

Why is This Important?

It is crucial for the Enterprise Architect to be able to demonstrate how the architecture will add value to the new business model. This will increase the understanding and management involvement. It will establish a driving force to avoid adding more complexity to the existing structure.

For the Business Innovator it is crucial to show how the new business model will be developed in practice. What parts of an existing architecture will be reused? What Master Data are we missing? How do we reduce our risks? When will the new business innovation reach the market?


Inspired since many years by John Zachman and recently by Len Fehskens we try to find a more scientific approach to EA. This is done in close cooperation with experienced architects within DAMA Scandinavia. We start small with “why, how, what”. We believe almost everyone can agree this is the central structure of EA.

Going back to the 1980s, John Zachman started with three interrogatives “what, how, where” and later added “who, when, why” to his Framework. Today in our Internet world we can easily answer “where” with “everywhere” and “when” with “any time” so these interrogatives don’t have any major impact on our architecture.

Len Fehskens wants to “Re-Think Architecture” and put focus on which problems EA has to solve. We believe aligning “why, how, what” is one of the main problem we have to solve. “Why” describes the business ideas and visions, “how” is described by our business processes and “what” by our information resources.

When describing our EA Principle No. 7 (see EA Principles – April 2012) we try to describe the problems we have to solve and how the scientific approaches given to us by Ted Codd, Michael Hammer and now by Alexander Osterwalder may jointly help us.

Our Problems

Today the rapid change of the market and the technology drive our development of new business ideas and innovations in our enterprise. They are crucial to our survival.  The capability to share existing information is very important to speed up our innovation. To rethink our existing business processes to fulfill new business ideas is another important capability needed by the enterprise architects.

Scientific Approaches

Below is a short description of the scientific approaches delivered to us by Codd, Hammer and Osterwalder.

When the English mathematician Ted Codd in 1970 released his Relational Model assisted by Chris Date it was a very important breakthrough. The hierarchical databases had forced us to store all entity relationships in a hierarchical structure. Assisted by Peter Chen in the US and by Bo Sundgren in Europe the Data and Information Modeling was developed. An effective workshop approach was developed in Scandinavia to support sharing of the information resource in our enterprises.

Michael Hammer at MIT made another important breakthrough. He taught us to put focus on the external customer in our Business Processes and leave the internal silos approach. In his first book Reengineering the Corporation, he did not fully understand the magnitude of the problem. Eight years later in “The Agenda” and a few years later in a HBR-article “The Process Audit” he described in detail the process orientation of our enterprise and how to achieve it. We may now share information captured in one process with other processes needing the same information.
We were able to align the information resource with our business processes; for example by using an IRM Matrix. But still we were not able to align with “why.” The Business Model Canvas (BMC) developed by Alexander Osterwalder is a major breakthrough giving us a structure to align “why” with both “what” and “how.”

Alexander spent three years at the University of Lausanne to develop a well-structured Canvas. He put a lot of effort in his ontology choosing only well-defined and common concepts describing the nine Building Blocks in his Canvas. His next step was to invest a lot of time and money designing and describing his Canvas resulting in his book, Business Model Generation. It became immediately a bestseller when it reached the market in 2010.

The Driving Force Behind the Innovation Process

The driving force behind our innovation process is to relate the creative solution in the Osterwalder Canvas with the structured approach in the Enterprise Architecture. Both the soft and creative part and the hard and structured part are critical to achieve a successful innovation process.

Figure 1: The innovation process


Figure 2: An agile, simple and stable environment

The structure and the ontology in the Osterwalder BMC are very well defined and described. The Master Data structure in the IRM City Plan is based on 25+ years of experience. It is now developed as a Scandinavian standard described in Defining and Naming Data Models Related to the Zachman Framework. The Master Data is divided into three main groups; the person related, the product related, and the remaining infrastructure. In the Overall Business Information Model (O-BIM) the status of each Master Data is known and defined.

The work to align BMC & EA will normally take two weeks; with one day of workshop during the first week and two workshop days during the second week. The participants may be Business Innovators, Enterprise Architects, Business Experts and the CIO. The alignment with EA makes it possible to analyze the BMC for risks and resources needed for development. This alignment process will result in a report also describing the potential to share existing business information and processes.

Examples of Master DataExamples in the BMC like Customer Segment/Customer, Customer Value, Product, Key Activity/Business Process are all very easily found as Master Data in the Overall Business Information Model. (O-BIM).

Aligning “Why” with “How” and “What”To fulfill the alignment of “why, how, what” is critical but not trivial. As all scientific approaches, they have to be studied and training to get experience is essential. To keep EA simple avoiding complexity is far from easy. As Len Fehskens states, it is important to only include what is needed and avoid everything not needed in your architecture to achieve what he calls a “binary” alignment.
Please email your comments and question to me.

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Eskil Swende

Eskil Swende

Eskil is main partner at IRMÊ, a Scandinavian consulting company focusing on Enterprise Architecture and the Innovation Process. He is also a partner at IRM UK, a strategic education company in London that provides seminars and arranges yearly conferences on EA, IA, MDM and BPM. Eskil is President of DAMA Chapter Scandinavia and has developed a global wisdom network of leading experts inside and outside DAMA, inviting them to give presentations and tutorials in Scandinavia. He can be reached at Eskil.Swende@irm.se.

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