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  • Keith Chambers

Top Down, Middle Out or Bottom Up - where to start

There are a number of ways to begin modeling an Enterprise Architecture. In this discussion we'll look at three of the approaches.


Top Down


At the top level we start with Business Strategies, related to Demands and realized by Projects. The advantage of this approach is alignment - it's couched in terms known to the business and presents a tangible and tactical model that resonates with business leaders.


Once these have been defined the other architectures follow on:

  • Business - Capabilities, Processes, Organizations

  • Application - Applications, Information Flows

  • Information - Data

  • Technology - Components, Deployments, Location

Bottom Up


Bottom up suggests that the Technology Architecture is loaded first. This works best when the existing definitions and relationships exist in a CMDB or other operational repository and can be loaded into the EA system. Care must be taken to keep Components at the logical level, not the discrete versions found in a CMDB.


Once these have been defined the other architectures follow on:

  • Application - Applications, Information Flows

  • Information - Data

  • Business - Capabilities, Processes, Organizations

  • Business Strategy, Demands

Middle Out


EA projects tend to wind up starting here because the primary focus is the Applications and the desire for rationalization. Technology data is often available, but relating it to Applications may be a challenge if the relationships are not maintained (in a CMDB), and rationalization really requires Business Capabilities as the basis (unless Technology rationalization is the immediate goal).


The middle-out effort is half the race. Getting to Business Strategy is really important, but application owners often lose their enthusiasm - it's a reasonable amount of work, after all - and the EA system reflects the as-is, doesn't get to the to-be (more of this in future posts on Versions) and fails to engage the business at the heart - Strategy


Keith Chambers - Business Technology Strategist


#enterprisearchitecture, #enterprisearchitecturetools, #businesstechnologystrategy

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