Architecture Presentation Techniques
While information is the lifeblood of enterprise architecture, it can be overwhelming to decision makers when presented in a raw format. Likewise, the structured methodology of modeling enterprise architecture information is both necessary and useful for creating Architectural Descriptions that can be shared between organizations. However, many of the 'traditional' architecture products are unwieldy because of their format and are useful only to trained architects. Many organizations develop a mandated architecture but make it expensive shelf-ware instead of using it to communicate important, accurate, and relevant information to the stakeholders who need it. Architects must be able to communicate architectural information in a meaningful way to process owners and other stakeholders, or the discipline of enterprise architecture will soon meet an untimely demise.
The results of architectural-related data collection need to be presentable to non-technical senior executives and managers at all levels. Many managers are skilled decision-makers, but have not had technical training in Architectural Description development. Since Architectural Description development efforts are designed to provide input to the decision-making process, representation of data needed is a logical extension of the overall process. This section describes these representations (architects call them models or views).
Effective presentation of business information is necessary for architects to tell the story of the architectural data with stakeholders. Since the purpose of the architecture discipline is to collect and store all relevant information about an enterprise, or some specific part of the enterprise, it can reasonably be assumed that the majority of information needed by an organization's decision makers is contained somewhere in the architectural data. Many of the existing architecture methods are valuable for organizing architectural information, but less valuable for communicating that information to stakeholders. Presentation views are always dependent on the quality of the architectural information that is collected through the rigor of architecture methods. As the figure below illustrates, presentation techniques pull from the architectural information store and display the data in a variety of meaningful ways to stakeholders.
The presentation techniques and best practices described here were developed based on the idea that business information, captured both internally and externally to an organization's architecture in support of common user requirements, can be displayed in a way that enhances clarity and understanding, and facilitates decision-making. That often means complex technical information has to be 'translated' into a form for presentation that is useful to management. An 'Information Bridge', as shown in the figure below, is the link between the architect and management. The bridge provides the means to take technical information, and recast that information in graphical or textual terms that consistent with the culture of the organization.
The Information Bridge
DoDAF V1.0 and V1.5 defined a set of products for visualizing, understanding, and assimilating the broad scope and complexities of an Architectural Description through graphic, tabular, or textual means. These products can still be produced, and are supported by the sets of DoDAF-described Models.
Choosing an Appropriate Presentation Technique
In any given business process, decisions must be made at multiple levels of the organization. Whether one is a senior level executive, a process owner, or a system developer, he or she will need to make judgment calls based upon the available data. Each level of decision making, in turn, has both a unique purpose and understanding of Architectural Description, making it important to tailor the data to maximize its effectiveness. The presenter, with the help of an experienced architect, must determine the audience of a presentation before choosing the type of presentation technique to use. The figure below, based on the Zachman Framework, summarizes the multiple levels of decision makers within a typical organization that make up an audience.
Levels of Decision-Makers
Each level has differing requirements for presentation of data. Level 1 Planners may find a graphical wall chart more useful in making decisions, whereas a Level 4 Builder will most likely require a more technical presentation, one relating more directly to the Architectural Description. Level 5 sub-contractors are the workers who will perform the work required, and generally required varying levels of technical data and other information to accomplish their task.
Narrowing down the type of presentation required is done by asking the following question: What information does the decision maker need to make a data-supported decision? For each decision level there is a data set that can be manipulated using a presentation technique. After analyzing the audience and type of information, the presenter should consider the various types of techniques discussed in this section. The "Level of Decision-Makers" figure is a simplified representation of the presentation development process.
Presentation Development Process
It is imperative to realize that when choosing how to present data sets, there is no limit on what views to use. There are countless ways to display information to decision makers, and it is up to the presentation developer to determine the most effective way to accomplish this task.
This section describes a base of view development techniques to start from, each created to serve its own unique purpose. Details are provided on five different presentation techniques that have proven to be useful in engaging various audiences.
A more detailed discussion of DM2 Meta-model Groups is provided in the LDM, including a description and purpose for each group, the data capture method, and the use of each group. There are the DoDAF-described Models that derive from and conform to the DM2.
Alternatively, Fit-for-Purpose Views can be created, utilizing DoDAF-conformant data that provide other forms of graphical presentation. These use presentation that are more common to briefings and decision analysis. The five techniques commonly used are:
- Composite Views: Display multiple pieces of architectural data in formats that are relevant to a specific decision maker.
- Dashboards: Integrate abstracted architectural information for a given business context.
- Fusion Views: Display multiple pieces of architectural data and incorporate disparate pieces of information that are not captured within the Architectural Description.
- Graphics: Visually represent manipulated data.
- Reference Models: Capture the elements of the architectural data and translate those elements into text.
Fit-for-Purpose Views provide wide flexibility for the architect and process owner to create architectural views easily understood and useful to management for decision-making purposes. Each of these types of views is described below.