Zachman International & FEAC Institute

Defining Enterprise Architecture: The Systems Are the Enterprise

Enterprise Architecture Systems

The Enterprises of today (2015) have never been engineered. They happen... incrementally... over the life of the Enterprise as it grows and requires formalisms... "systems", manual and/or automated.  

"Now we have 10 people... we need a payroll system! Will somebody go down to the bank and find somebody who knows how to do payroll... or, maybe you can BUY a payroll system!" Et cetera, et cetera. There may be thousands of these systems in any one Enterprise. But, the Enterprise was never "engineered". It is a miracle that many Enterprises are working! They ARE working however... and no one should be unhappy! Nobody should be throwing tomatoes at the IT folks for building systems. If someone hadn't been implementing these automated systems, there probably wouldn't be an Enterprise in business today! However, the fact that Enterprises are running today is not only due to the extensive use of automated (and/or manual) systems but it is even more likely a tribute to the perseverance and creativity of the Enterprise people holding it all together... probably because they have been doing it the same way for many years and they know how it works and they keep it working... but don't let those people leave... and for goodness sakes, don't change anything!

The "systems" ARE the Enterprise! Some people get upset with me when I say this. They will say, "oh, the systems are NOT the Enterprise... the systems ahhh... errr... uhmm... they SUPPORT the Enterprise!" When I hear this I say, "you have been replacing the people of the Enterprise with systems for the last 60 or 70 years... what were those people doing? Weren't they the Enterprise? If they weren't the Enterprise, you shouldn't have bothered replacing them with systems! No! You made the systems the Enterprise instead of the people. If there is any question in your mind whether a system is the Enterprise or not, turn the system off for 15 or 20 minutes! The place will come to a screeching halt! Everybody will be sitting on their hands waiting for the system to come up!"

IT has been manufacturing the Enterprise (building systems) for 70 years or so... but the Enterprise was never engineered. Therefore, IT has not been manufacturing the Enterprise... they have been manufacturing PARTS of the Enterprise ... and the parts don't fit together (they are not "integrated"). If you were building automobile parts and the parts didn't fit together... what would you do?... You would have to throw those parts away and start over again. If you want the parts to fit together, you have to engineer them to fit together before you manufacture them. If you manufacture them and then try to fit them together... you can't get there from here! You are faced with "Scrap and rework!" Throw that stuff away and start over again!

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