John Zachman’s Framework for Information Systems Architecture, later renamed as the Zachman framework for Enterprise Architecture, is a commonly used taxonomy of business elements and artifacts used by Enterprise Architecture teams. It is clearly in rapid decline as the TOGAF framework, derived from TAFIM, is being widely adopted as the Enterprise Architecture framework of choice.
Unfortunately, many of the concepts of Enterprise Architecture were established by adopters of the Zachman Framework. This is a shame, because the Zachman Framework is fatally flawed.
What is the fatal flaw? As you can tell from the title of the post, the flaw is an “Inside-Out” perspective on the enterprise. The flaw is the description of an enterprise from the viewpoints expressed in the rows of the framework itself, variously described as the Planner, Owner, Designer, Builder, Programmer, and User viewpoints. All of these viewpoints express the enterprise in terms of how these different roles understand it… but not in the way in which an enterprise is actually relevant.
A business that does not provide value to a customer is doomed. Therefore, it is critical to develop models of the enterprise that reflect the viewpoint and perspective that is of critical importance. Unfortunately, while the Zachman Framework is large, it has a fatal gap: it demands many things but fails to demand the creation or classification of business elements from the perspective of the end customer.
One could say that the customer viewpoint is represented not by a row, but rather by a column: the “why” or motivation column. That is nonsense. We need to answer each of the interrogatives of Enterprise Architecture (What, How, Where, Who, When, and Why) from the perspective of the customer. The customer must be a row. It is not.
Now, time to retrain all those folks who are bringing Zachman “thinking” with them…