March 27, 2014

Zachman Grid and when to use it

The Zachman Grid or Framework is useful tool for determining what artefacts to create as part of the Enterprise Architecture work in an organisation.

The grid as defined on the Zachman website is given as:

zachman

 

Source: http://www.zachman.com/ea-articles-reference/54-the-zachman-framework-evolution

The framework will only ever be a small part of the overall architecture effort as it is just a grid of artefacts that are relevant for different parts of the architecture for different types of stakeholders involved in the project.

It is extremely generic by design and can be used for any industry. There is absolutely no process in the framework at all, just a guide to what artefacts to create.

The key to using this framework in my opinion is realising that although the Zachman organisation say the artefacts are not complete unless every square in the grid is complete, I have found completing all the squares on most projects is not needed and is not required.

The process, the company’s culture, the individuals involved and the project scope itself all go to make up the wider context of any project and this, as much as anything helps shape what squares in the grid need completing and hence what artefacts need creating.

I usually use the grid as a starting point to decide what to create and use this in the context of another framework which does supply a process, such as the TOGAF. I think both of these frameworks have their places on a large project, but Zachman especially is not much use purely on its own.

The important element to release in Architecture frameworks is that these frameworks mostly suppose a waterfall approach to software design. In this respect their usefulness is limited. However, they are still a good reference point to make sure you have covered all angles in the high level design.

Simon Powers
Simon Powers is an Agile Coach specialising in large scale transformations and agile adoption. He has a background in very large enterprise architecture which has led on to organisational design and agile process refinement. Simon is the founder of Adventures with Agile.