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If in doubt leave it out – 10 Golden Rules for Enterprise Architecture

Distilled from many Enterprise Architecture Consulting engagements Karsten Voges published 10 rules for Enterprise Architecture Practitioners to guide your modeling efforts:

  1. If in doubt, leave it out: if you are uncertain that you need data – leave it out, it simplifies your initiative in the long run;
  2. Model to the highest level of abstraction, that still gives you value;
  3. Model to the lowest level of detail, that is still sustainable;
  4. Figure out over time what the above two levels are for each area and adapt as your maturity and needs change
  5. Capture stable data, not volatile – your are supporting strategic decisions, not operational needs
  6. Remember that there is no black or white, right or wrong, but purely better for your organization’s needs;
  7. If you cannot put it in a visualization or filter of a spreadsheet, the value is questionable;
  8. Aim first for the overall roadmap and the strategic plan, don’t get bogged down in the details;
  9. Don’t forget to define standards and principles, because that is what you can easily track (unfortunately the roadmaps are harder to track/audit);
  10. Start small and lean, evolve over time and don’t boil the ocean and try to build an IT wide data model covering all aspects possible providing all the data needs you could imagine. (Simplify – if in doubt, leave it out)

We hope that these great 10 rules help you guide through your EA initiative. If you like to have more help with your IT Management work, reach out to our experts.

What other rules did you come across that helped in your situation? Please share in the comment section!

See also our similar post on WHAT YOUR EA STAKEHOLDERS DO NOT CARE ABOUT.

Lean Enterprise Architecture Conference in Munich

Our Partner Lean42 is announcing their Lean EAM Conference for October 13th 2015 in Munich, Germany. SMART 360 will be present and is proud to support one of the most important practitioner gatherings of Enterprise Architects in Germany.

You can sign up for Lean EAM Conference or read more in the following announcement document Lean EAM Konferenzflyer (German).

This conference on Lean Enterprise Architecture will provide you with Best-Practices, Benefits of EA, embedding EA in the organization and sustaining success of your EA initiatives.

Sign up now to see you there!

SMART EA 3.4 released

SMART EA 3.4 is released and available as a new enhancement. You can test the new release via our online demo of SMART EA for free!

We highly recommend to update to this modular release, providing many enhancements/add-ons over the original SMART EA 3.3 or iteraplan.

The new release 3.4 provides major improvements by integrating our new SMART Viz with 7 additional relationship visualizations and 9 additional visualizations for time and number series.

The highly improved navigation and icon language is embedded in many views and improves the identification of elements, as well as mobile usage and navigation across SMART EA and SMART Viz.

Here is a full list of changes (also in our Release Notes)

Visualization & UX:

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  • Integration with SMART Viz offering 7+ additional visualizations (Add-on)
  • Improved UX with a streamlined navigation menu
  • New icon language, makes it easy to identify elements

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Integration:

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  • Fast meatmodel (structural) export via REST (JSON)
  • Fast model (data) export via REST (JSON)
  • Single Sign-On over SAML (Add-on)

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Fixes/security:

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  • fixed Javascript injection vulnerability on multiple pages
  • fixed XSS vulnerabilities
  • enhanced SAAS speed experience

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You want to know how SMART EA can help you enhance your Enterprise Architecture Program?

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How Great is This? Pink Architecture: New Technology Leadership

Guest post from industry expert Jean Gehring.

“I admire Linda Cureton, former CIO of NASA and CEO of Muse Technologies Inc. She writes in InformationWeek  that one of the most essential components of effective IT planning is enterprise architecture (EA). Yet EA is considered by most observers to be an utter failure in government. Given this disconnect, it’s no surprise that the current state of affairs in government IT is bleak.
If EA is so essential and Federal IT is in such bad shape, how can we turn this around? Do we throw money at it? Do we need more guidance from the Office of Management and Budget? Are we using the wrong framework? All of these things have been attempted with varying degrees of success. The answer is in leadership. We need better leadership from EA professionals — we need Pink Architecture.
Pink Architecture employs the leadership style associated most often with women. Perhaps a less sexist description of this style is that of the “servant leader” — leadership that is humble, leads from behind, and is collaborative. In essence, the opposite of what is held up today as the metric for successful architecture leadership.”

Read the rest of the article in InformationWeek!

smartEA 3.3 released

smartEA 3.3 is released and was successfully deployed for our SAAS customers. In addition, our clients can download and upgrade to this new release.

The new release 3.3 provides major improvements concerning integration and usability.

You can now profit from the following new integration features:

  • Different import strategies: Use the best strategy for your integration requirements
  • Partial export/import: Limit the data to your relevant information
  • Write via REST API: Load data from other sources into your architecture repository
  • HTTP Basic Authentication: Choose from multiple methods when accessing smartEA data
  • Extended LDAP synchronization: Work with the most current user information from your LDAP

We optimized smartEA’s usability by providing:

  • Single Sign On (SSO): Access your enterprise architecture with one click
  • Customized exports (Excel export): Get an individual sheet fitting to your needs
  • Overview of all saved reports: Search and find your saved reports even faster
  • IE 10 support: Access smartEA with your favorite browser
  • Error logs as ZIP-download: Get all necessary support information in one click

New features will be presented in a blog series as before.

Please provide us with your feedback, suggestions or questions at any time.

Stay tuned for the next smartEA release 3.4.

At last, many thanks to the development team for its great work and to the community for several ideas and demands for new features! Only with this participation it is possible to drive the smartEA development in a user-centric way.

Typical EA Questions and SMART EA Reports

As complexity of IT landscapes increases, the speed of changes is increasing and information for decisions becoming more important, the need and interest in Enterprise Architecture (EA) and tooling/reports/visualization in EA is becoming immanent.

To help with convincing business about the benefits of an EA Tool, we created a slidedeck with questions/concerns you as an Enterprise Architect might have heard quite often from your stakeholders. It showcases how a tool like SMART 360° EA or iteraplan can be used to answer these questions with smart EA reports.

The key requirements often include an easy to use, cost effective tool that captures data so that we could answer key application and technology questions. These slides will review those questions and how the application answers them via reports and visualizations:

 

The purpose of the slides is to get a feel for how an EA tool could be used effectively in your organization and what smart ea reports to use.

It is based on a couple of common requirements in IT Management but might need to be tailored for your specific situation. It can be part of BusinessCase or Proposal. Feel free to share and adapt as you see fit.

Season Greetings – Happy 2014 – Free Visualization gift

As 2013 comes to an end, we thank you all for your support, help and continued business.

Well look forward driving your EA initiatives with you in 2014. Our experience and tools continue to serve you and enhance your IT Management delivery.

We say thank you with a gift. You can our new smartVIZ – a FREE Visualization component offering the following free visualizations through and drag and drop web interface:

  • Treemap
  • Dendrogram
  • Circular Packing (Nesting Cluster)
  • Bubble Chart
  • Scatterplot (Portfolio)

Our free EA Visualization Tool

EA Visualization Tool
EA Visualization Tool

Enjoy this visualization helper, you can simply copy and paste your data in and visualize.

If you are afraid of sending you data: All the data stays on your local machine within your Browser. We only use Javascript to process the data and generate the visualizations. So after you initially visited the site, all data stays on your machine and never leaves your premise.

Be sure to check back for updates. You want this integrated to directly get data from one of your tools? See the example to get data from the smartEA application. Just contact us for a custom offer and onsite deployment options.

All the best in 2014 and see you out and about in EA 🙂

How to build your corporate Enterprise Architecture Function inspired by Google’s Design function

How Google built their central design function (known as UXA – User Experience Alliance) can be a lesson and guidance on how to built a central EnterpriseArchitects function.

This dawned on my reading the great Fast Company article about how design finally made its way into Google, not only within each product, but also as a function within the company with a central team. So here is the take away for Enterprise Architects and Governance teams:

How to build your corporate Enterprise Architecture Function:

  • Start and spend a month with all participating stakeholders to see what is out there as BusinessArchitecture, Projects, IT, Infrastructure, BusinessModel, …
  • Try to deliver as much value in that month, so that all the different projects and stakeholders come back to get guidance
  • Never name things Standards or Governance
  • Accomplish your unifying goal in a subtle way: Use conversations and collaboration.
  • Don’t try to be measurable as a corporate function, but try to lean in with local problems and build a way that good decisions emerge and bubble up. Value the ideas of local EA/IT and let it grow. Value good Solution Architecture that fit into the broader picture.
  • Name it Project Kennedy, because in most organizations Enterprise Architecture is like a moonshot worthy of JFK

The mentioned article is also part of the October 2013 Issue of Fast Company.

You can also follow Karsten on twitter or on his blog!

REST interface reading smartEA (iteraplan) data

Since release 3.2 an REST interface is available to customers using the smartEA (iteraplan). This technical amendment represents the first step of an improved automatic processing of your EA data. Via an URl model and meta model data from smartEA (iteraplan) can be retrieved in JSON format for further editing. Such information can then be integrated into different IT management tools or displayed directly in a wiki. In the latest version this interface is read only, but further expansion of this functionality is planned already.

How the REST interface reading smartEA (iteraplan) data looks like:

Taking our online demo as example a query of the complete meta model is made using http://demo.smart360.biz/smartea/api/metamodel. Analogically all EA data can be requested using …/api/data to refine them outside of smartEA (iteraplan).

Alternatively selecting relevant information can be done in smartEA (iteraplan) directly. For example …/api/data/InformationSystem will supply a detailed list of building blocks of the type information system, …/api/data/InformationSystem/205 just the specific information system with ID 205:

{
  "query": "InformationSystem[@id\u003d205]",
  "result": {
    "id": [
      "205"
    ],
    "name": [
      "CRM # 3.1"
    ],
    "description": [
      "Management of customer data\r\n"
    ],

… further attributes

    "technicalComponentReleases": [
      {
        "id": "329",
        "name": "UNIX # Solaris",
        "elementURI": "http://demo.smart360.biz/smartea/api/data/TechnicalComponent/329"
      },
      {
        "id": "330",
        "name": "VM Ware Server # 2",
        "elementURI": "http://demo.smart360.biz/smartea/api/data/TechnicalComponent/330"
      }
    ],
    "businessObjectAssociations": [
      {
        "id": "435",
        "elementURI": "http://demo.smart360.biz/smartea/api/data/Isr2BoAssociation/435"
      }
    ],

… further relationships

    "elementURI": "http://demo.smart360.biz/smartea/api/data/InformationSystem/205"
  }
}

For specific queries the URl can be combined with another feature of the Enterprise Edition, the smartQL. For example to display all details of all active customer relationship management systems the according smartQL expression must be added:…/api/data/InformationSystem[@name.contains(„CRM“) & @typeOfStatus=“CURRENT“]

Complete documentation and further examples can be found in our UserGuide. Or you can start straight away testing the new functionalities in our Online-Demo.

This is a guest blog from Daniel Neuer.

Accelerated Excel import (smartEA/iteraplan 3.2)

This is a guest blog from Daniel Neuer

The accelerated Excel import of smartEA (iteraplan) 3.2 cuts time by half, making it faster and easier to iterate in your Enterprise Architecture project.

In addition to the enhanced range of functionalities smartEA technical side is continually optimized too. One of the ever recurring requests of the community to accelerate the excel import was realized in Version 3.2 released on 31st October 2013.

The duration to import huge data volumes, e.g. at the beginning of an EAM initiative were reduced by approx. 50% – for strongly interlinked building block types like the information system even by approx. 70% (see chart below). The accelerated speed is particularly noticeable when regularly consolidating decentralized and offline generated information which is usually processed by excel import.

Accelerated Excel import of smartEA 3.2 cuts time by half or more!

Accelerated Excel import in smartEA-iteraplan 3.2
Duration of excel imports in smartEA 3.2 compared to version 3.1

But time savings are not everything. While optimizing the code base we have established a process which enables us to raise our future potential for improvement rapidly and sustainably. The consequent iteration via theory – metering – trial – metering – implementation ensures that future optimizations can be realized securely and appropriately as per the release dates. Additionally, we have included a metering as safety net into the build process. So we can make sure that changes in other parts of the code do not affect the already achieved successes negatively every night. This helps us make smartEA faster and even more reliable.