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Sunday, March 10, 2002


Zachman Framework - Part 4. Since my last entry Kate Hartshorn and Linda Zarate have been busy adding background material here and in Notes from the Field. It's now my turn to produce. I'm going to pick up where I left off in my 7 March entry by finishing the topic about business rules, and wrapping up the Zachman Framework.

Business Rules. In my previous entry I gave an overview of business rules, an example and resources for further reading. Among the resources was Barbara von Halle's book, Business Rules Applied: Building Better Systems Using the Business Rules Approach. While I think Ms. von Halle's approach is sound, the business rules body of knowledge is still relatively young. There are many differing, albeit complementary, points of view and approaches, and if you intend to become an advocate you need exposure to these points of view and approaches. One of my favorites is a five-page document titled Business Rules Primer. It's consistent with Ms. von Halle's approach and you can get a working overview without wading through Business Rules Applied: Building Better Systems Using the Business Rules Approach's 546 pages. To be sure, you'll still want to read the book, but exposure to the concepts and basic mechanics before delving into a 546-page tome is an efficient way to get up-to-speed.

The six-page whitepaper titled The Importance of Business Rules in the Organizational Transformation Process touches upon topics related to business processes and, to a degree if you extrapolate, knowledge management. Both of these topics are integral elements of the Zachman Framework, making this paper particularly valuable.

Modeling Processes and Workflows by Business Rules goes even deeper into the importance of business rules as a technique for organizational transformation, and also augments a topic that I'll soon be addressing in Notes from the Field: processes. (Kate Hartshorn and Linda Zarate have already laid the foundation for this topic in their recent entries.)

There is a strong and natural affinity between business rules and data, which is illustrated in the following documents:

If you work with PeopleSoft you'll also want to read Enforcing Business Rules with PeopleSoft.

I'm obviously a business rules advocate, and hope that I've piqued your interest as well as provided a good starting point from which to gain a more in-depth understanding of business rules and their value to an enterprise architecture. While I've linked business rules to the Zachman Framework in my series of entries, the two are complementary. Business rules as a technique and approach stand alone as a tool and are effective independent of any framework, methodology or approach you are working with or considering.

Zachman Framework Wrap-up. Between my entries covering the Zachman Framework and Kate Hartshorn's excellent and insightful entries here and in Notes from the Field that cover business intelligence and knowledge management, there is sufficient information with which to evaluate the Zachman Framework as a viable approach to an enterprise architecture. I'm an advocate of the Zachman Framework in the same manner that I am of business rules.

I do want to point out a drawback to the Zachman Framework that you should keep in mind if you do share my opinions about its value: there is a tight coupling among the dependencies in the framework. If you change one cell, it will trigger a cascade effect that ripples across all of the cells. If an enterprise architecture based on the framework is developed be aware that it can spin out of control if the evolution is not carefully managed. Do read Enterprise Architecture Planning: Developing a Blueprint for Data, Applications and Technology by Steven H. Spewak and Steven C. Hill if you are seriously considering the Zachman Framework as the basis for your enterprise architecture.

There are three final documents that I want to share, all of which were written by John Zachman:

  1. A Framework for Enterprise Architecture
  2. A Framework for Enterprise Architecture: Background, Description and Utility
  3. Challenge is Change
These documents, all in MS Word format, succinctly summarize the Zachman Framework, and provide enough information to make a further investigate/not of interest decision with respect to Mr. Zachman's approach to enterprise architecture.

End Note. I am pleased to see Kate Hartshorn's increasingly active contributions here and in Notes from the Field. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience from which we can all benefit. What makes her entries especially valuable is the fact that Kate is not an IT professional. Her insights give those of us who are IT professionals a unique glimpse into the thought processes of a sophisticated business user.

Linda's recent entries have also added value to both of the weblogs and I appreciate how she has augmented my topics, in some cases anticipating me, with background information. She and I enjoy a close working relationship and deep friendship that are symbiotic and enriching.