Seven reasons why Enterprise Architects need an EA Tool

Friday, May 1, 2015 | Likes: 0 | Comments: 0

Mark Paauwe

Sales Director

Dragon1 Inc

Seven reasons why Enterprise Architects need an EA Tool

Below are seven reasons why it is recommended to use an EA tool for creating visual communication products in the organization.

Especially when working with enterprise architecture is a priority on the agenda, the architecture documents are piling up to chaos and every year the discussion is redone about what is architecture and if entity relationship diagrams are architecture models, without actually getting any further.

Any of these seven arguments below show how I as a Visual Enterprise Architect have observed, practiced, and experienced Enterprise Architecture and how I have used Dragon1 Enterprise Architecture Tool, to create pragmatic visual architecture solutions.

1. Management

If we see enterprise architecture as an instrument that needs to be taken and managed seriously just like Sales or Purchasing, it is advisable to start using a specialized EA Tool for this. Professional sales, such as cross-selling and up-selling, using a 360 client view, or smartly doing purchasing, like eProcurement and Maverick buying, none of this is easy and few people do this without the use of a specialized CRM tool or Purchasing tool. Administration and management of personnel files at the HR department and bookkeeping at the Finance department are rarely done anywhere without specialized tooling. To have enterprise architects do their work properly, efficiently, and effectively and to control the number of produced architecture documents it is a smart thing to start using specialized EA tools from the start of working with architecture in the organization.

2. Consistency

When an organization first starts to explore 'how to work with architecture' using various and own methods and techniques, chances are that created fragments of architecture do not fit (gaps and overlaps). Nor they can be assembled into one coherent piece of work. By using EA tools and editing or adjusting the present examples in the tool to your situation, one can be sure that architecture is stored and administered as a consistent and coherent whole.

"Using specialized EA Tools brings consistency into models and stimulates reuse of building blocks as opposed to non-specialized EA Tools"

3. Reuse

Every organization has a current architecture (the AS-IS architecture). Every physical operation and logical construction of a project of change in the organization is enabled or constrained in freedom of moment by the AS-IS Architecture of the organization. With EA tools, it is much easier to collaborate on documenting, charting, and visualizing coherently and consistently the complete AS-IS architecture, with everyone focussing on his or her part (fragment, system, or domain). Building blocks that are defined and designed by one architect can be published in a repository in the tool for reuse by other architects for charting their part of the architecture. The presence alone of an EA tool in organizations sometimes already sets architects on the path of spontaneous charting of the current (AS-IS) architecture of the organization. Without having an EA tool chances are much lower that spontaneously the AS-IS architecture is being charted, or that activity will be planned.

4. Distribution of Tasks

With cloud-based EA tools tasks can be distributed much easier than without a cloud-based EA tool: tasks can be distributed based on experience and specialism. One team member may focus on shapes, definitions, and relationships of terms, another team member creates the blueprints and roadmaps. A third one takes care of the underlying metamodels and someone else does research for the correct concepts and principles. If and when an organization chooses to work with cloud-based enterprise architecture tools immediately the benefits of collaboration with a repository will be revealed. Any time, any place, anywhere members of the team and stakeholders can collaborate on architecture via the same tool.

5. Administration

The world is changing more rapidly every day and so is your coherent set of information systems in the organization. If architecture documents are created with office automation software, such as a word processor, spreadsheet application, or presentation tool then it requires a lot of manual labor and time to continuously process all changes 100% consistently in all the separate documents. With EA tools, one can generate complete Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, and Excel sheets using building blocks. Also, changes in models will automatically be processed in visualizations used in real-time generated documents. So will always have an accurate and up-to-date report of the current situation.

6. Costs / Benefits Ratio

It is always justified to invest in EA tools because of the significantly increased productivity of its users; Users can process changes more quickly, consistently, and integral, and no more time is wasted on making documents consistent by several people and time is saved because the wheel is not reinvented anymore. The reuse of building blocks is made very easy using a repository mechanism. The business case for or return on investment (ROI) of an EA Tool is sometimes less than a month if it, for instance, prevents employees from looking for hours for a certain document with specific information, using wrong document versions, or not finding documents and duplicating existing documents.

"Do you take a sales team very seriously and do you expect them to work efficiently and effectively without them having a specialized CRM tool?"

7. Maturity

An often-heard remark from practitioners is: we are just starting to work with architecture in the organization. It is much too early to go and use an EA tool. First, we need to get some experience in working with architecture, to be anyhow capable of creating a TO-BE architecture, and to do some organizational changes to embed architecture better. With professional EA tools, you start from the beginning with a phased approach and maturity levels. For instance: if you have never done anything with architecture, first chart the AS-IS architecture of a domain or system in your organization that you know very well. Also, your apprentice colleagues at the sales department often first start to enter the current contacts, clients, and products of the organization, before they analyze the market for trends and opportunities using graphical reports created with complicated queries in the CRM tool.

Dragon1 Tools for Enterprise Architects

You probably will understand I am not talking about any EA tool here and not every EA Tool holds features to comply with each mentioned argument. Dragon1 EA tool does comply with all these seven arguments. Dragon1 is more and more often used as a source of the base for working with the enterprise architecture in an organization. With Dragon1 you practically take over control visually of your organization. Dragon1 is much more than just a modeling tool for creating views on Entity-Relationship Diagrams. Dragon1 is a cloud-based EA Tool for designing architectures (total concepts) and monitoring the realization of these integral businesses and IT concepts for enterprise structures.

Next to creating models, it is possible to create with care and attention in Dragon1 powerful visualizations of these models. These visualizations can be made interactive (clickable). For instance, the objective of supporting the board, directors, and management of the organization in making strategic decisions with correct and quickly generated up-to-date architecture visualizations. Such interactive maps, atlases, and design books have proven to be very effective means of communication. And alas in most cases not already done. Creating a design book or interactive map is what I call an Architectural Quick Win!


Rounding up, from a proactive management point of view, increased consistency, more reuse, better or improved balanced distribution task, realistic administration capacity utilization, and correct cost/benefit analysis, enterprise architects are entitled, just like their colleagues, to a specialized tool. In their case an EA Tool.

My advice to organizations is to start at any time with creating an architecture framework diagram and to visualize their AS-IS Enterprise Architecture and domain architectures that are on that Architecture Framework Diagram. This is because the current situation of architecture constantly impacts business operations and projects of change.

"Transform your AS-IS Architecture into a new Architecture Plateau with an EA Tool to give your enterprise strategy more room to execute"

Also implement a process to regularly on a monthly or quarterly basis update your AS-IS architecture visualization as EA Baseline for every architecture recognized. Once the AS-IS Enterprise Architecture is pictured enough it becomes more tangible and controllable. Compliance views on company standards, policies, and architecture principles can be generated using the AS-IS architecture. A set of coherent and reinforcing measures to transform the AS-IS architecture into a new architecture plateau that gives more room to the company's strategy to execute can easily be taken. By using Dragon1 as a cloud-based EA Tool for this task, success is inevitable.