I posted previously about some success I’ve achieved with ArchiMate 3, Archi and some clever plugins. From a technical level I believe it’s worked well, but I wanted to cover how I’ve been using the tool to build up knowledge in my new role, and I think the best way to start that is to give some direction on how to get started with ArchiMate.
ArchiMate as a language has evolved over several versions, each iteration introducing new concepts and relationships over the last. With ArchiMate 3.0, I believe the language has reached a point where I can use it to describe more of the actual architecture within an organisation without battling the standard itself.
Before continuing, it’s worth stating that I have not yet achieved TOGAF certification, nor have I any formal training in the ArchiMate standard. I hope at some point to rectify these omissions, but in the meantime, I have found value in the concepts and tools that these standards offer.
The Value of Archimate
ArchiMate as a standard closely aligns itself with the TOGAF methodology, it doesn’t enforce TOGAF, but it does compliment the Architectural Development Method defined in the framework.
When approaching any problem, I first need to understand the situation, the current lay of the land, the Baseline. I find the best way to do this is to describe that current state visually. A picture tells a thousand words, and by drawing a diagram I can better describe the world. Pen and paper work, Google Draw works, even Microsoft Paint would work, but to achieve the best outcome a tool that allows structure is best. Microsoft Visio can enable an architect to show how the components of their architecture interact, it can maintain a level of meta-data and it can be shared with others, but, by-default, it doesn’t enforce a standard. A box is a box, with no other context.
ArchiMate introduces that additional layer of context and language, enabling other architects to understand the diagram and build on the knowledge within. Coupled with an Enterprise Architecture Tool such as Archi, additional meta data can be built into the model to enable documentation to be linked to components, impact analysis to be conducted based on changes to a given building block and additional views and models to be built against a repository of knowledge.
Getting into Archimate
As I’ve stated, I have no formal training on the ArchiMate standard. Everything that I have learnt has been based on trawling the internet for tutorials, examples and patterns. It may not be 100% correct, a fully trained Archimate practitioner may recoil in horror at the liberties that I have taken with my models, but it has worked for me.
Here are a number of resources that may be of value to other architects on similar journeys;
- ArchiMate 3.0 specification
- Archi – the free EA tool
- ArchiMate 3.0 Quick Reference Card – From BizzDesign
- ArchiMate 3.0 Notation Overview Poster – From Orbus
- Making a cup of tea in ArchiMate
- Mastering ArchiMate – Blog
- ArchiMate Made Practical – Wiki
- 3 reasons why ArchiMate is the best architecture language – CleverSimplicity