The Importance of Architecture for Enterprises

Published in January 2001

Building architecture considers the design of a building from many perspectives. The catalysts are the requirements of the Planner and the Owner of the building. The Planner is interested in a
broad overview of the building’s purpose. This indicates WHY the building is to be constructed, WHO is to occupy it, and WHEN it is to be built. The Owner supplies the purpose and these other
details for planning approval. The Owner will also have other requirements to ensure the building meets his specific needs.

From the Planner’s and the Owner’s perspectives above, the Designer (who is an architect) designs the building to address their needs. The Designer then documents the design in a format and in
terms relevant to the Builder: as construction blueprints or diagrams; and as construction specifications. They indicate WHAT materials are to be used, HOW construction is to be undertaken, and
WHERE various elements of the building are to be located. From the Designer’s perspective, the Builder documents construction details for the Subcontractor to guide construction of components of
the building. The end-result of this use of architecture is a building that meets the needs of the Planner and Owner, when built.

Enterprise Architecture considers the design and operation of an enterprise also from many perspectives. The catalysts for Enterprise Architecture are Strategic Business Plans defined by senior
management. These address the requirements of the Planners and Owners of the enterprise:

  • For Public-Sector enterprises, the Government is the Planner. The government’s requirements are expressed in Laws governing the establishment and operation of the relevant authorities. Senior
    Managers of these authorities are Owners of the databases and systems needed to support the Law defining the relevant authority.
  • For Commercial enterprises, the Board of Directors and Corporate Planning Department are the Planners, while Senior Managers are Owners of the databases and systems needed to implement the
    plans approved by the Board.
  • For Defense enterprises, the President and Security Council are the Planners, while the Chiefs of Staff are the Owners of the databases and systems needed to implement the Defense plans.

As we saw earlier, an Enterprise defines its Strategic Business Plans in terms of its Mission, Vision and Values at the highest level. From these, it can establish Policies based on specific
constraints. These Policies are qualitative guidelines defining boundaries of responsibility. They are also used to define the Organization Structure of the enterprise, made up of Business Units
and Functional Areas.

Policies lead to definition of Goals that define what the enterprise has to achieve (measure), by when (time) and the degree of achievement (level). In turn, Goals result in the definition of
Strategies designed to achieve the goals. These Strategies are then allocated to responsible business units or functional areas for their implementation.

Within each Business Unit or Functional Area, the responsible managers define Objectives to ensure that the Strategies are implemented to achieve the higher level Goals. In turn, these Objectives
lead to definition of more detailed Tactics, Tasks or Business Processes that are designed to achieve the relevant Objectives. The Implementation of tactics, tasks or business processes is further
managed at lower levels by the definition of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Taken together, the above statements document the Strategic Business Plan of an enterprise. They define WHY the enterprise exists (Mission and Vision), WHAT is to be achieved and by WHEN (Goals and
Objectives), HOW they are achieved (Strategies and Tactics), WHO are involved (managers and staff), and WHERE (Locations, Business Units and Functional Areas).

In the design of an enterprise, there are many ways of representing things that are of interest to Planners and Owners, from their perspectives. These are expressed as text in the Strategic
Business Plan. The strategic plan can also be expressed as diagrams, lists of things of interest to management, and planning details or specifications representing the enterprise. These details are
documented in a Strategic Model.

The Strategic Model and the Strategic Business Plan indicate WHAT, HOW, WHERE, WHO, WHEN and WHY. From these, more detail and different diagrams, lists and specifications can be used to address the
perspectives of the Designer, Builder and Sub-Contractor. Again, they are interested in WHAT, HOW, WHERE, WHO, WHEN and WHY.

Based on the Strategic Business Plan and the Strategic Model, a clear expression of the requirements of the Planners and Owners of the enterprise can be determined, for use by the Designers. The
Designers of the enterprise are typically senior managers and also managers from the Business Units or Functional Areas. They determine WHAT data and information are required to support
decision-making by management. They define HOW data and information are used in business processes. They determine WHO, WHEN and WHERE the data and processes are to be made available throughout the

Information Technology staff (data administrators, business analysts and systems analysts) work with these managers and their business expert advisors. From the enterprise business design, they
work as Designers of the information systems and databases that will provide the required information needed by management for decision-making. They identify the Business Rules that define WHAT
data and information will be used in processes, as well as WHY and HOW. These business rules are used to define application systems and workflows to support managers and staff throughout the
enterprise. From this, they define WHAT data is required, and also HOW, WHEN and WHERE it will be processed based on WHO the end-users are. The documentation produced includes Tactical and
Operational Data Models, Activity Models, Process Models and Object Models that document these designs.

From the data, activity, process and object models documented by the Designers, the IT Builders (systems analysts, database administrators and programmers) build the databases, application systems
and workflows as Information Systems that meet the defined needs of the enterprise.

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Clive Finkelstein

Clive Finkelstein

Clive is acknowledged worldwide as the "father" of information engineering, and is Managing Director of Information Engineering Services Pty Ltd in  Australia. He has more than 45 years of experience in the computer industry. Author of many books and papers, his latest book,  Enterprise Architecture for Integration: Rapid Delivery Methods and Technologies,  brings together the methods and technologies for rapid delivery of enterprise architecture in 3-month increments. Read the book review at Project references, project steps and descriptions are available from Click on the  Projects link from any page. Clive may be contacted at

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