Eric Stephens, my friend, and fellow Oracle Enterprise Architect, recently blogged on the subject of “Tools of the Trade” of Enterprise Architecture. I was invited to the same podcast as he was, but could not attend. So, in absentia, I thought I’d add my two cents to his sage post:
There are several very good EA tools on the market, but each come with their own learning curve and, as Eric mentioned, there can be variance in usage across companies – ranging from no standardized EA-specific tools to adoption of one such as Troux.
Having said that, here are the tools that I think are basic / fundamental in an Enterprise Architect’s tool box and how they can be used (or at least how I use them). Idea is to embrace, but extend what Eric said.
Spreadsheet (such as, but not limited to Excel)
Capturing everything about the project such as organization structure, divisions, current costs, etc…). Once it is in the spreadsheet, it can be sliced and diced and, importantly, imported into the presentation software to make clear the facts that went into the current/future state positioning. Also key to making a business case for any initiatives to be undertaken.
Presentation Software (such as, but not limited to Power Point)
Communication, communication, communication! Getting everyone on the same page through information roll-ups, diagrams and architectures is really at the heart of what we do. Yes?
Oracle JDeveloper / BPM
This is great for sketching out a business process in BPMN notation which (unless you NEED a L0 – L2 model) is a pragmatic way to flesh out current and future state business flows. The added benefit is that, with Oracle BPM 11g, Business Analysts and Developers can begin to collaborate on fleshing out your model once a business process automation project gets the go-ahead.
Sure, you have to download a development environment but, hey, it’s free and relatively easy to use tool.
Whiteboard Markers (such as, but not limited to Expo markers)
Nothing works better than getting people in a room and working through a particular topic in a collaborative fashion.
Hint from personal experience: make sure they are dry erase and not permanent.
Well organized file system (such as, well…you get the idea)
The more you do this stuff, the more you have a library of tried and true materials that are battle tested. Try to organize them well on your disk (or do what I do and catalog things in a spreadsheet with hyperlinks to the files – one of my secret tricks)
So, that is my story. But, I may likely not stick to it….