Having worked with Enterprise & Solution Architecture (E&SA) for years, as well as Systems Engineering and how it connects to E&SA, I've more recently gotten involved with the Scaled Agile Framework community. Several wicked problems present themselves as one tried to set up an organization-specific Architecture & Engineering (A&E) approach. Because it is so complex, one tends to postpone a highly collaborative effort within A&E, waiting for the perfect approach, complete baseline understanding, and a highly mature tool ecosystem.
I would like to propose a much more agile approach to moving towards and building off a Minimum Viable Product with an incremental delivery of value even regarding such intimidating transformations. For example, a lot of organizations I work with around the world lack what we in the TOGAF community call an Architecture Repository that underpins the architecture practice and by which one builds a collection of reusable information, templates, guides, standards, and patterns, as well as stores the majority of architectural work products such as architecture visuals describing the key elements and relationships in play in the enterprise/organization.
One reason for this is another shortcoming tied to low A&E maturity: a lack of an agreed upon metamodel on how to describe the "architecture" of an organization at all, whether baseline or target; a lack of reference models for capability, maturity, performance, value, the various domain architectures (e.g., business, data, application, and technology, as well as security). Similarly, there is a dearth in terms of collections of reference architectures capturing champion approaches to tackle various types of transformation initiatives -- besides E&SA -- (e.g., ERPs, CRMs, Cloud Migrations, Mergers & Acquisitions, Design Thinking, 3D Printing, Digital Twins, Drones, Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain technology).
For this reason, I strongly urge organizations to embrace and sponsor collaborative Architecture & Engineering approaches in an incremental way, building a vision and roadmap that can and must evolve, but can be started even though notably nascent at the start. To document anything related to what would essentially be a Center of Excellence, an Architecture Repository is a critical first step, but not one that requires a large investment to get started. For example, my experience with the tool Smartfacts (https;//smartfacts.com) shows that it could be an excellent repository even before it has even barely begun to develop its full functionality of integrating visual artifacts of different kinds from a variety of Architecture & Engineering tools.
This is just one example, but a decision like this should link to the idea of bringing resources together to a common platform that is an excellent value, allows for many different ways to store and collaborate on the information, and assures version controls. I provide this example because this particular tool is a bleeding edge one for doing robust, innovative integrations of all kinds of visual models, but its basic functionality and low price point show it to be very promising for, essentially, the knowledge management of an A&E community.
Written by Dr. Steve Else, Chief Architect & Principal Instructor