Allen Brown of Open Group on their internal use of TOGAF #ogtoronto

I was taking notes in a paper notebook at the conference on Monday, and only now have had time to review them and write up a summary.

The general sessions opened with Allen Brown of the Open Group discussing their own use of TOGAF in architecting their internal systems. Since they’re making a push to have TOGAF used in more small and medium businesses, using themselves as a test case was an excellent way to make their point. This seemed to be primarily a systems architecture exercise, responding to threats such as operational risk and security; however, the problem that they had was primarily that of systems, not of the general organizational strategy.

So far, as part of the overall project, they’ve replaced their obsolete financial system, outsourced credit card handling, moved to hosted offsite servers, added a CRM system, and are adding a CMS to reduce their dependency on a webmaster for making website updates. These are all great moves forward for them, but the interesting part was how they approached architecture: they involved everyone in the organization and documented the architecture on the intranet, so that everyone was aware of what was happening and the impacts that it would have. Since this included business priorities and constraints, the non-technical people could contribute to and validate the scenarios, use cases and processes in the business architecture.

They developed a robust set of architecture artifacts, documenting the business, applications, data and technology architectures, then identified opportunities and solutions as part of an evaluation report that fed into the eventual system implementations.

This was a great case study, since it showed how to incorporate architecture into a small organization without a lot of resources. They had no budget to hire new staff or invest in new tools, and had to deal with the reality of revenue-generating work taking precedence over the architecture activities. They weren’t able to create every possible artifact, so were forced to focus on the ones most critical to success (a technique that could be used well in larger, better-funded organizations). Yet they still experienced a great deal of success, since TOGAF forced them to think at all levels rather that just getting mired in the technical details of any of the specific system upgrades: this resulted in appropriate outsourcing and encouraged reuse. At the end of the day, Brown stated that they could not have achieved half of what they have without TOGAF.

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