Enterprise Architecture Principles Resource

Enterprise Architecture principles are a key component of the TOGAF framework for establishing an enterprise architecture capability. This post introduces a set of enterprise architecture principles I’ve collated from the public domain. Others can use this set of principles as helpful resource to start selecting, prioritising and defining their own enterprise architecture principles.

The collated set of enterprise architecture principles can be found here: https://trello.com/b/GD8XCC0K

Background

I’ve been lucky enough to get in at the start of enterprise architecture initiatives in the last couple of EA engagements I have been involved in. Each time, when using TOGAF, one of the first things done is to establish the enterprise architectural principles for either the organisation as a whole, or the initiative/programme of work in particular.

The rights or wrongs of this decision are not for this post. Instead, I want to concentrate on what I consider a frustratingly inefficient situation I’ve found myself in each time: starting from scratch to pool enterprise architecture principles for selection.

Blank Canvas

When selecting enterprise architecture principles you could of course start from scratch. I think this is unwise for a few reasons:

  1. Its difficult to start from scratch with such a wide-open and generic topic
  2. While you might think your organisation unique, its not that special. Not enough that you don’t share any such principles with other organisations in any case.
  3. TOGAF provides a core set of example principles, with a clear structure, tone and format. Why not start from here?
  4. Existing principles inspire thought. It shouldn’t be a straight “lift and shift”, and shouldn’t limit your consideration to only these principles. Instead, you can understand existing principles, determine if they are applicable and then tailor them for your organisation and situation. The key point is you are not starting from scratch.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

If you are like me and see the value in taking inspiration from existing architecture principles, then it stands to reason that you would then fish from the same pool each time.

That’s not to say that we are fishing exclusively in this pool (sometimes the best principles are original ones on engagements) and so personally I’d increment this list every time I came across another valuable principle.

This is what inspired me to then start collating these principles in a single location that I could then use again and again.  I started collating these principles for my own benefit but as these principles were opened up by others in the first place, I thought I’d make the collection public so that anyone can derive the same benefit.

My EA Principles Trello Board

I decided to collate these on a Trello board for a couple of reasons:

  1. A cloud-based platform like Trello makes these resources highly accessible.
  2. You can select these easily into your own set of principles (by copying from this source board to your own Trello board) rather than cut and paste and reformat.
  3. Your own Trello board of potential principles then lends itself well to management of principles (selection through prioritisation, filtering of different architectural domains through use of tags, linking of principles through markdown to name a few).
  4. As a collaboration tool, Trello allows architecture teams can collaborate on selecting, prioritising and defining their architecture principles.

I have stuck to the TOGAF structure of an architecture principle (Title, Statement, Rationale, Implications) where possible. However, the collection is a continual work-in-progress, so you may find a few cards not in the standard TOGAF format while they are being developed.

The link to my public Trello board for EA principles: https://trello.com/b/GD8XCC0K

Acknowledgements

While some of these principles were defined on the projects I have worked on, many more of them are taken from other publicly available sources. I am not declaring these as my own. I’m simply collating them in a single location for ease of use by myself and hopefully others.

I have added attribution for each principle at the bottom of each card, as a hyperlink to source. However, I thought it appropriate to also list them below:

Notes:

  • This set of principles is not static. When I come across principles from other sources then I will add to this set.
  • If you derive any benefit from this, I’d love to know.
  • If you think there are valuable architecture principles missing from this list then let me know. I’d be happy to add them.

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