Enterprise Architecture (EA) trends towards increasing organizational agility, driving technology innovation and delivering business outcomes have helped to make the domain’s value more obvious to the wider stakeholder community.
Not only that, but Enterprise Architecture’s value is now being realized a lot sooner than before amongst less mature organizations, to show a Return on Investment (ROI). That said, there’s still room for improvement, and the domain can still benefit from a number of quality of life improvements to finally shake its ‘Ivory Tower’ perception once and for all.
The adoption of a “View Manager” is one such quality of life improvement Enterprise Architecture could stand to benefit from. We’ve already seen Views revolutionize the way we navigate other enterprise tools spanning from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to Business Intelligence (BI) tools and many others inbetween. Enterprise Architecture’s adoption of the concept is a natural step.
In short, a “view manager” streamlines the navigation and presentation of information, allowing a user to save a number of customized representations of data to be both recalled, and/or reapplied to other data in the future.
Any Enterprise Architect is aware of just how complex an enterprise’s architecture can get. This streamlining of information will enable EA’s to view model and object data (among other types) on a snapshot basis, as well as enable these snapshots to be cycled through readily.
Coupled with a tool supporting collaboration, the benefits of View Managers are even greater still. They help usher in the democratization of EA, facilitating greater engagement of the wider organization directly inside the tool.
The ability to share views means that those with the insider knowledge of the tool – the experts, the main users – can set the parameters of the view(s) on behalf of others (stakeholders, decision makers, relevant parties, etc). This makes things substantially easier when communicating the data as everybody can see the same representation of the information, without all parties needing expertise in the domain.
Data snapshots can also be shared quickly and easily to avoid the common problem of over-complicated EA. A best practice of communicating Enterprise Architecture, and generally any domain requiring expertise, is communicating only what stakeholders/business leaders/etc. need to know.
However, this isn’t indicative of shady practices. On the contrary, what is meant by this, is that the relevant parties aren’t shown irrelevant data. This redundant data can lead to a messy, and generally unagile architecture that can be difficult to comprehend for EAs themselves, let alone non experts.
Using Views as snapshots of the architecture can help avoid these issues, and the best part about it is, once the view is made, it can be applied and re-applied over and over again in an instant.
Thanks to their innately customizable nature, there can be many different uses for views, depending on how the user tailors them.
A typical example found as a default option in most tools supporting views is “My X” – where X is a data type you operate in. In Enterprise Architecture, X would often be “My Applications”. In a collaborative Enterprise Architecture set up, this is a great quality of life feature that allows the architect to quickly pull up only the models/diagrams/etc assigned to them.
Another example could be “Top 10 risks.” In this case, instead of the ownership or assignment value being relevant, this view is determined by the value of risk. There are many cases in which this view would be extremely valuable. One such example could be internally (within the EA team) deciding on the priority of certain issues.
Architects could couple this with business capabilities to see which risks could potentially be lessened, or even nullified and in turn, use this information to devise the best plan of action.
For similar reasons, this view would also be relevant when communicating with business decision makers and stakeholders.
Business capabilities themselves could also benefit from such views. For example, ‘X Department Business Capabilities’ could display the business capabilities relevant to a specific department.
And these are but a few examples. Views can be designed in minutes for ANY object type and with ANY set of rules in the system, and then saved for future use. The diagram below shows a visual representation of views and their use.
In some cases, an application, object or diagram might meet the criteria of more than one view. In this case, the information is present in both. The example above only shows views with information ordered linearly, but in reality, the information going into the view can be a lot more chaotic. That’s why the end result is so much easier to comprehend. The views show a far more focused representation than is possible without.
As with other types of enterprise software, Enterprise Architecture tools with baked in View Manager support will become the new normal. It’s a fundamentally more efficient and more simple way of interacting with data, for a domain that’s notoriously difficult to encourage outsider engagement.
For the expert, ‘views’ make it easier than ever to group, manage and focus EA information. This in turn benefits the non expert too, as stakeholders, decision makers and other relevant parties aren’t burdened with information that isn’t relevant to them – they see less ‘noise’ and can zero in on what is important. They’re also given simpler access into the tool itself, as views can be set up and customized on their behalf.