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Recently I attended a TOGAF certification course up in merry old London town run by Architecting the Enterprise (AtE). My certification should show up in the list of other 5000 odd architects that have passed in the next few weeks.

So what is TOGAF in a nutshell? Well it's a very generic architecture framework that helps build, in a non-prescriptive way, how to develop parts of an Enterprise Architecture capability.

Notice the caveats, 'very generic', 'non-prescriptive', 'develop parts'. What am saying is that if you want an idiots guide to implementing Enterprise Architecture in your organisation, this is not it and forget that quest because it doesn't exist! TOGAF sits a few levels above; it is the high-level plan that on specific subjects delves a little deeper with advice, guidance and best practice.

TOGAF is a product of the Open Group that is a vendor neutral IT standards organisation. You do get the impression that it's been designed by committee but try and get over any prejudices you may have on that score. There aren't that many other ways you can get many different and competing parties to agree on subjects.

TOGAF and the course initially left me feeling pretty annoyed, the reason being, I was left with more questions than answers. However, after sitting down in a quiet spot and analysing my thoughts I realised a few home truths,

  1. More questions than answers is actually a good sign! Weighing it up, most of my questions are now smaller in scale, there are still a few big questions but not as many, so this is indeed a sign of 'thinking in progress'. TOGAF does give you a starting point, you have to fill-in not just the blanks but interpret how to make all elements work in your organisation, no two organisations are the same.
  2. TOGAF isn't finished, it's pretty obvious it's a 'work in progress', some parts are more mature than others. My advice would be, have a go with what there is if you don't have a better equivalent, it's better than starting from scratch.
  3. TOGAF is generic that means it is not going to cater for your individual organisation and circumstances neatly, there is a risk of 'if at all'. It is just another demonstration on how immature our industry is as a whole and really how few standards we have, there isn't a great deal of agreed collective thinking, just a lot of very similar problems. So get over the fact that you are going to need to do some thinking and work stuff out. TOGAF isn't an Enterprise Architecture flavoured Pot-Noddle.
  4. Am I really going to make a better job of it than the Open Group? I admit that I can be arrogant buoyed by the confidence that no outsider is going to know my set of EA issues better than me. However many of my problems are similar and therefore are going to have similar solutions. It really does pay to have an open mind.

So am I a fan of TOGAF now? Well, I'm past the stage of 'it's better than nothing'. I've got to a point where I am beginning to respect it.

So is TOGAF better than the other frameworks? Well the answer to that is pretty simple, what does 'better' mean in your context? Microsoft, one could argue is a 'standards bodies neutral' vendor and has a very good article comparing the different Enterprise Architecture frameworks giving you a method to work out what is the most appropriate framework for your organisation.

For my organisation, the 'whether to use TOGAF' debate is still rumbling on but for my immediate colleagues and I have decided to run with it and see how far we get. Consequently, you are going to see TOGAF influencing this blog as I will report back my experiences as the journey continues.

Posted on Friday, April 18, 2008 11:38 AM Main , Technical Architecture , Enterprise Architecture | Back to top

Comments on this post: Enterprise Architecture: TOGAF Certification

# re: Enterprise Architecture: TOGAF Certification
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Hi Dave,
Great thoughts on TOGAF. I agree with you that the TOGAF ADM is at the macro level process level than most other processes are at such as RUP or ITIL.

As you pointed out, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I just write a post on "Making Sense of Architecture Standards" and how I think TOGAF fits into that.

<a href"">Architecture Stadnards

Take a peek and let me know what you think.

Left by Mike Walker on Apr 18, 2008 6:27 PM

# re: Enterprise Architecture: TOGAF Certification
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It is not clear to me how much this certification is valuable/acceptable to industry as CCNA/CCNP/ITIL etc.
Left by Bibek on May 17, 2008 7:05 AM

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