ArchiMate® Modeling in Practice: Using a Model Repository


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Sven van Dijk
Posted by Sven van Dijk on Apr 28, 2016

Enterprise Architecture, ArchiMate

In theory, an ArchiMate® model can be created using just pen and pen, or a whiteboard and markers. There are also software platforms that provide an ArchiMate modeling environment, which come with many automated capabilities and analysis functions.

However in this post, we will focus on an important element in maturing into an advanced, mission critical modeling capability: the model repository.  

 

The model repository

 ArchiMate is used to describe and analyze multiple perspectives on the enterprise, including as-is and to-be states, and to plan the possible steps in between. This is useful since the main focus of Enterprise Architecture (EA) is arguably to support change initiatives.

Although there are several methods, techniques and best practices to follow, this is still not a straightforward task. This is because it often involves several people working in different teams to achieve the same goal: setting up an integrated enterprise architecture model.

A centralized repository to support and organize modeling efforts is indispensable. The repository itself may take the form of a database, but not necessarily. Many organizations use document management systems to implement (a part of) a repository for EA artefacts.

A central aspect of the repository concept is the reuse of models and information. In an ArchiMate model repository, objects are stored just once, and can be reused in other diagrams in which the object is relevant. The repository acts as the central holding place for all objects, relationships, and attribute information, where the model is maintained and kept up to date.

This makes repository based ArchiMate modeling fundamentally different than using drawing tools: the ability to reuse objects results in a tremendous increase in productivity.

Since the repository brings together information from different areas, perspectives, and states of the enterprise, integrated analyses can be performed. The inclusion of qualitative and/or quantitative data as attributes of objects results in very high-level, interesting analyses. Examples include security information for infrastructure objects, or performance information (KPI’s) for application components or business processes.

Using the ArchiMate extensions, requirements and project planning information can also be included in the repository, related to the architecture, and be part of the analyses. This way, the ArchiMate model is much more than a coherent collection of objects, relationships, and views; it is an integrated “Enterprise Body of Knowledge”.

 

Setting up a model repository

The best approach to setting up a model repository is “think big, start small”.

Setting up a centralized repository becomes a necessity as soon as an initial level of ArchiMate modeling maturity has been reached, typically in two or more “domains” (e.g. information, application, business, and/or technology). This is not just a technological exercise; people and process factors also need to be considered.

 

Key considerations when setting up a model repository

People

A clear picture should be established around who models what, and issues around ownership of model content should be addressed. This should be clearly defined and documented, for example by using a RACI matrix. When using an automated repository solution, the organizational structure for ArchiMate modeling can be implemented as role based access levels.

Another important issue is providing guidance on the organization specific use of the ArchiMate language. Introducing a Model Style Guide prevents the emergence of “dialects” and the use of incompatible levels of detail throughout the different domains. At the same time, the Style Guide promotes the use of organization specific reusable model patterns as part of (domain) architectures.

Process

Governance processes, roles and responsibilities should be identified and documented. This can be done by using traditional formats including flow charts and organization charts. The governance process should indicate the order in which the organization approaches setting up and maintaining the model repository.

Review processes should also exist to maintain a high level of quality, in terms of consistency and accuracy of model content, and attribute data.

Technology

As mentioned before, an ArchiMate model repository can be implemented using various types of technology. BiZZdesign Enterprise Studio offers a central and integrated model repository, that comes with sophisticated functionality. The repository is flexible and configurable, allowing to implement various organizational and governance structures for ArchiMate modeling.

A good repository has many capabilities to manage and publish model content, including version management, check-in/check-out functions, and role based authorizations. In the model repository, different states (as-is, to-be), as well as versions (draft, under review, published, etc.) can be described.

 

 Conclusion

An ArchiMate model repository is indispensable for effectively managing and governing the modeling activities of architecture teams. The adoption and implementation of an ArchiMate model repository should be approached as a project, giving attention not only to technology but also to people and process issues. A strategy based on “think big, but start small” has proven to be successful, at least in our experience.

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