Zachman Framework

About the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture

On this page we briefly explain and discuss what the Zachman Framework is and how one could make use of it. And... we have the original article for you as a download at the bottom of the page.

The Zachman Framework is a diagram with two axes. It was created by J.A. Zachman in 1987 and first was named 'Information Systems Architecture'.

Axis 1 - The What, How, When, Who, Where, and Why

This axis is about the first words in 'open'-questions: What, How, When, Who, Where, and Why.

Axis 2 - Engineering Phases

This axis is about engineering phases where an idea is transformed into a thing: Identification, Definition, Representation, Specification, Configuration, and Instantiation.

A fundamental structure

The Zachman Institute claims the following: 'there is substantial evidence to establish that our framework is the fundamental structure for Enterprise Architecture. It thus yields the total set of descriptive representations relevant for describing an Enterprise.'

Historical Versions


zachman framework 1984


zachman framework 1987


zachman framework 1992

Definitions of Enterprise Architecture Terms by Zachman

Zachman appears to define Architecture as a set of primitive models. Zachman: 'If you are not building (and storing, managing, and changing) primitive models, you are not doing Architecture. You are doing implementations.'

A 6 x 6 matrix

Everyone knows the shape of the Zachman Framework as a 6 x 6 matrix, and every cell contains a set of well-known diagrams. You can use the matrix as a reporting schema to visualize or report what type of information is available and unavailable or what type of situations are known and unknown in a certain enterprise.


Data (What)

Function (How)

Network (Where)

People (Who)

Time (When)

Motivation (Why)

Objectives / Scope

List of things important to the enterprise

List of processes the enterprise performs

List of locations where the enterprise operates

List of organizational units

List of business events / cycles

List of business goals / strategies

Business Model

Entity relationship diagram (including m:m, n-ary, attributed relationships)

Business process model (physical data flow diagram)

Logistics network (nodes and links)

Organization chart, with roles; skill sets; security issues.

Business master schedule

Business plan

Information System Model

Data model (converged entities, fully normalized)

Essential Data flow diagram; application architecture

Distributed system architecture

Human interface architecture (roles, data, access)

Dependency diagram, entity life history (process structure)

Business rule model

Technology Model

Data architecture (tables and columns); map to legacy data

System design: structure chart, pseudo-code

System architecture (hardware, software types)

User interface (how the system will behave); security design

"Control flow" diagram (control structure)

Business rule design

Detailed Representation

Data design (denormalized), physical storage design

Detailed Program Design

Network architecture

Screens, security architecture (who can see what?)

Timing definitions

Rule specification in program logic

Function System

Converted data

Executable programs

Communications facilities

Trained people

Business events

Enforced rules

Rules of the Framework

Zachman defines 7 rules for using his framework:

  1. Rule 1: Do Not Add Rows or Columns to the Framework
  2. Rule 2: Each Column Has a Simple Generic Model
  3. Rule 3: Each Cell Model Specializes Its Column’s Generic Model
  4. Rule 4: No Meta Concept Can Be Classified Into More than One Cell
  5. Rule 5: Do not Create Diagonal Relationships Between Cells
  6. Rule 6: Do Not Change the Names of the Rows or Columns
  7. Rule 7: The Logic is Generic, Recursive

Zachman vs TOGAF

TOGAF as an approach to realize TOGAF-type-architecture and Zachman as a framework to get ideas for what models and diagrams to make or look for, is a good fit. In practice there is often not enough time available to create all the Zachman models and diagrams, your people make selections of the most important ones.

Zachman vs Dragon1

Zachman sees enterprise architecture as a set of (written down) primitive models. The Dragon1 open EA Method sees enterprise architecture as a total concept of an enterprise. And that total concept consists of coherent concepts. These concepts consist of elements (at a logical level) and components (at a physical) level and technical products (at an implementational level). The Dragon1 EA Framework recognizes all the (logical and physical) models and diagrams of Zachman but adds other (conceptual and meta) models and diagrams to that.

A big difference or even maybe the main difference between the Zachman model and Dragon1 open EA Method is that Zachman makes the elements like a process 'mandatory' to use by an architect, whereas Dragon1 open EA Method states that if you as an architect use business concepts that contain the element 'process', only then processes will become part of the architecture of your enterprise.

So you might as well have an enterprise architecture without any of the elements that Zachman defines as mandatory. This means that from a Dragon1 open EA Method perspective Zachman is not a framework for enterprise architecture but a reference enterprise architecture for common process-oriented - enterprises and organizations.

In other words: Zachman limits the enterprise architectures that can be designed by an enterprise architect using the Zachman framework. And the Dragon1 open EA Method does not limit the enterprise architectures that can be designed by an enterprise architect. There are no mandatory concepts or elements to use.

When working with Dragon1 open EA Method, the Zachman framework example still is a valuable guideline for discovering primitives in your organization.

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