Guide for Selecting an Enterprise Architecture Platform
Whether you’re working through a tool RFP or RFQ or familiarizing yourself with enterprise architecture tools
The table below is designed to provide a useful overview of some of the key questions, features, capabilities you can include to fine tune your evaluation for success.
Modeling & Roadmapping
Modeling current and future state architectures and a range of viewpoints is a core capability for architecture disciplines, including Enterprise Architecture, Solution Architecture and Data Architecture. ABACUS allows practitioners to build models and roadmaps appropriate to their industry, methods & stakeholders.
Your Tool Requirements
ABACUS is an Open Group Certified TOGAF tool and Open Group Certified ArchiMate tool. It also supports 100+ other frameworks and notations including BPMN, BIAN, NIST, SABSA etc. Architects can also combine and configure frameworks in-house.
Check if tools support all frameworks you need now and in the future. Are framework modifications or additions able to be done in-house or will this incur additional costs?
Document systems, processes and dataflows. Create business, information, technology & solutions viewpoints. Import and integrate Visio, UML or BPMN diagrams. Draw with a native drag-and-drop canvas and stencil. Lightweight web-based diagramming for easy enterprise-wide use. Model current- and future-state architectures (multiple scenario states)
Do you need a diagramming environment which is properly integrated with your data? (Third party tools and manual diagram updates are time-consuming)
What viewpoints do you need and can you customize these? Do you require ‘As-Is’ and ‘To-Be” architectures? Can copies of projects be contextually linked to the baseline?
Use templates and stencils for business process, infrastructure, capability, customer journey, & business ecosystem modeling plus hundreds of other framework or bespoke ways to model provided as standard
Check if modeling is restricted to a framework or vendor style. Are current iconography & shape libraries available eg AWS, Azure? Are additional modeling types included or at a cost to the customer?
Draw and collaborate on diagrams and flowcharts which describe business processes, dataflows, systems, infrastructure, etc. Diagrams in ABACUS update automatically as the data in your repository is edited. Updates flow through to dashboards.
Check if third party tools are required for modeling/diagrams. Is a canvas-and-stencil or toolbar available to edit diagrams online? Are diagrams static images (manual redraw required when data changes) or integrated? Can existing EA diagrams, solution architectures etc. be imported easily?
Use heatmapping, recommendations, lifecycle properties, and interactive Gantt Charts to visualize roadmaps. Build detailed business, technical, strategic and innovation roadmaps
Check if roadmapping is limited to framework or vendor-proscribed solutions. What styles are available: eg. color-mapping and timeline-based approaches?
Architects need to be able to define, customize and manage architectures and metamodels to fit their business. The repository and connected artifacts need to be modified as the business moves forwards. Avoid being dependent on costly customizations, rigid frameworks or generic industry and domain artifacts which can’t be adjusted in-house by the architecture team.
Your Tool Requirements
Guide contributors with templates, customizable data constraints, and predefined list values. Define and modify artifact types, attributes, standards and notations in-house
Check if metamodels are framework-restricted and whether costs are involved for each instance of customizations to fit your enterprise
Drag and drop functionality to modify existing frameworks or create hybrid frameworks. Over 100 different frameworks and notations are included with ABACUS. No coding or application modifications required to tailor frameworks to your enterprise.
Check if vendor outsourcing (including database modifications) are necessary for framework adaptations. Can the tool adapt to fit the data, approaches, naming conventions and other aspects specific to your business?
Adapters & Integrations
Enterprise architecture tools need to allow organizations to collate information into a single source of truth and share data with management, operations, and technical departments. ABACUS integrates with other tools and presentation applications via adapters that enable data to be sent and received. A readable and writable RESTful API, allows stakeholders to benefit from EA via their preferred applications.
Your Tool Requirements
Import/export with Word, Excel, and Visio. Store and share data and views via SharePoint, and Teams to collate and share information
Check if integrations are restricted or limited. Eg: one-time vendor upload or limitations on file types
Roundtrip and sync data right within ABACUS using in-built integrations for Google Sheets, ServiceNow, and Technopedia
Some tools require custom scripts developed by vendor per client at cost
Integrate technical, business, and operational data through popular formats and a range of external sources including XML, XPDL, SVG, CMDB, ERP, SQL, DBMS, and others
Check for query-based and swivel chair dependency requiring extended workflows
Send live data to and from data sources using ABACUS’ readable and writeable REST API. Automate data uploads to create a data feed from other sources on a regular basis.
Check whether an API is available to avoid being restricted to limited third party sources and writeable end-points. Check whether integrations are managed manually or can be automated.
Data Visualization & Reporting
Enterprise architecture is more than just creating models and portfolios. Providing insight which is interactive, highlights impacts and support multiple scenarios for both business and IT stakeholders is crucial to delivering value. ABACUS produces signature-ready proposals and self-service details and metrics for stakeholders.
Your Tool Requirements
Deliver your chosen KPIs directly from the repository in real-time using dashboards showing calculations, query-results and interactive charts and diagrams. Tailor dashboards for roles, projects, departments etc.
Do you need dashboards which are configurable for roles, frameworks, stakeholders, etc? Do metrics need to be specific to departments or projects?
Assemble dashboards for monitoring digital operations. Visualizations change automatically as data is updated via ABACUS, through syncs, API integrations, or browser contributors
Check if dashboards refresh with data updates so all users are in sync
Analyze data using responsive and easy to configure Pie, Bar, Bubble, Sankey, Gantt, Treemap, Hierarchical Bar, Sunburst, Partition, 5×5 Risk Matrix and Graph View visualizations.
Consider what visualizations your team needs to communicate effectively with stakeholders
Stakeholder dashboards and reports
Customize dashboards to report on projects. Tailor headlines/titles and select roadmaps & timelines, charts, KPI indicators, diagrams, capability maps etc. Use visual filtering for quick impact analysis.
Check if stakeholder dashboards are restricted or template-only with static visualizations
EA & Business Views
Visualizations for self-serve queries of business analysis, change impacts, and scenario planning directly from the central repository, via your browser
Consider whether you may need to respond to queries with data in meetings, or whether a delayed response is sufficient
Create signature-ready reports with ABACUS and directly export to Word, PDF, Excel. Export enterprise architecture diagrams to image formats including PNG, JPG and SVG
Check whether reporting systems rely on WYSIWYG editors or third party ETL systems
Design reports comparing projects and future-state architecture options including costs, benefits, risks and more. Automate publication and distribution as needed
Check if comparison reports are comprehensive
Ready to Upgrade Your Roadmaps and Modeling?
Digital Business Collaboration
Enterprise architects shouldn’t need to act as data stewards, but they do need to make sure data is maintained. Set up data owners across the business to collaborate on and co-author data via secure browser-editable lists and catalogs. Use permissions and notifications to control data quality.
Your Tool Requirements
Single Repository with Easy Data Updates
Data owners and contributors can update and edit catalogs/lists in-browser via secure browser-editable digital portfolios. Any data and diagram changes update the central repository in real-time.
Check if the EA team needs to handle updates. Are data entry options limited to specific field inputs or feedback loops? How is data entry managed and administered?
Multiple users can co-author catalogs via ABACUS or in-browser with changes visible in real-time
Check how data is updated and how clean data entry is achieved. Does the EA team need to process data updates themselves from review notes?
Embed digital portfolios in Microsoft Teams, Confluence, intranets etc. for easy access across the business to dashboards and digital portfolios
Check if collaboration is limited to email or comments via vendor systems
Browsing of the repository in-app and via secure websites with role-based permissions screening eliminating need for obfuscation via duplicated views.
Check what is required for setting up and varying access and permissions
Permissions & Data Governance
Segment data for different users/consumers of that data. Validate/ensure data quality with fine-grained CRUD permissions, including role definition, authorization and user provisioning
Check whether role-based access for different user groups is available for data quality governance. Check whether your in-house administrators can adjust permissions easily.
Streamlined access with Single Sign-On and Open ID for digital portfolio users and AD integration for desktop users
Authentication for some tools can be complex and limit adoption
Securely scale so hundreds of users can collaborate from different locations & time-zones
Do you have, or need to plan for, teams of architects who need to collaborate with stakeholders across many departments and global regions?
Version Control & Audit Trail
Full log of all repository changes with roll-back, diff and sync to ensure data consistency
Understand whether audit trails are available and what is required for configuration and maintenance
Business Analysis & Design, Scenario Analysis, Gap Analysis, Algorithms
Understanding current business landscapes using data and metrics, and generating reliable future state scenarios is core to business success. ABACUS supports this with powerful analytics and scenario analysis features. Architects and strategy managers can undertake gap analysis, trace impacts and relationships, test future state architecture designs, and guide businesses forward.
Your Tool Requirements
Predict the impact of change incl. technical, financial, business, operational, regulatory and compliance, based on integrated enterprise data
Check if what-if analysis is available, and whether it is limited to specific datasets
Identify the steps needed to move between the current state and future-state architecture options with diagram, table-based, visualization and architecture comparisons
Check if the differences between baseline and target architectures are easy to identify and compare
Model current, target, and, future states and compare values attached to different architectures with visual recommendations to guide your business
Consider if you require only ‘As-Is’ modeling, or if you need to map out scenarios and alternative future states options
Discover detailed relationships between customer interactions and operations, applications, data and resources using connections visualized in matrices, diagrams, catalogs, charts and Graph View.
Understand how a tool defines relationships and if it allows traceability enabling impact, dependency, and what-if analysis
Use algorithms to predict the outcomes of scenarios, strategies and future state architectures
Do you require whole-of-architecture analytics, in-depth modeling, and scenario analysis?
Design calculations which roll up data across your architecture (eg cost of a specific Business Capability or Process), calculate metrics specific to your business, technology structures and industry without writing a single line of code
Consider whether you require strong analytics functionality: cost and risk forecasts, technical KPIs, trends in metrics, business & technical fit scores etc.
Calculate Costs, TCO, ROI, NPV, Risk, Security, Complexity, Reliability, Cloud Readiness, Resource Utilization, Response Times, Performance, Maturity, Availability etc. with algorithms out-of-the-box
Are analytics integrated or is a tool reliant on third party tools or manual calculations
Essential to Enterprise Architecture
Tools for enterprise architecture come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging in functionality and maturity. ABACUS includes key features which are essential for successful enterprise architecture. These include user and view configuration, powerful repository search, and guidance for contributors, collaborators, and consumers of business insights.
Your Tool Requirements
Intuitive UI with online tutorials and guides or in-person training available
Assess user-interface and on-boarding processes for both experts and stakeholders
Easily adjust object properties and catalog, matrix, dashboard, and chart settings and manage permissions within ABACUS
Check whether data entry permissions setup is tied to separate or third party processes
Develop insights for maximum business impact using executive-friendly icons
Understand what stakeholder views are available and whether they can be tailored in-house
Set up hierarchies benefiting from a graph database back-end rather than storing data in “flat” lists. Fill in missing or incomplete data using Machine Learning.
Understand how data storage and improvement can impact time-to-value and ease of use and modification of data
Cloud-based management of portfolios: application lists, asset registers, processes etc. Interactive dashboards for self-service access to reports. ABACUS supports remote work and real-time collaboration
Consider whether your team can move easily to work from home or when travelling, and whether you may need to scale up quickly as demand and buy-in increases.
Drag and drop ordering of hierarchical structures to allow intuitive as opposed to alphabetical or numerical ordering
Is the ability to re-order categories easily required for your team
Synchronize or merge architectures using architecture “Diff” comparison tool, plus guidance on whether to sync / merge according to the specific differences
Comparing architectures manually is standard for many tools, but can be time-consuming for large enterprises
Supports detailed descriptions of business processes via standardized notations and the relationships of any connected data and application objects
Support for framework defined business notation and directly associated objects so users see the appropriate details of objects in the model
Provides modeling options for BPMN and UML libraries incl. UML Sequence Diagrams and elements such as swimlanes, interactions, events, and gates.
Consider if you require “with purchase” support for key frameworks including BPMN and UML
Search & Filtering
Full-Text search, filter functionalities on all elements, views and dashboards
In some tools search can be limited to filtering on catalogs and portfolios
ABACUS supports seamless access with Single Sign-on (SSO) and Active Directory (AD) integration. TLS technology protects your information using both server authentication and encryption of data. ABACUS Cloud users can also enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).
Consider the sensitivity of enterprise architecture data, and the importance of maintaining regulatory compliance as well as strong security for your team. Make sure data is encrypted.
Every organization is different and every user has different access requirements. ABACUS can be deployed on-premise, via secure hosted cloud or both, giving users access from their preferred OS and browser anywhere in the world.
Your Tool Requirements
Full cloud deployment available with zero client install and configuration
Cloud deployment available from some tool vendors or third party providers
On-premise, cloud and hybrid deployment options available
Does your team require on-premise or cloud deployments or options for hybrid solutions
Secure and Economical
Dedicated or Multi-tenant deployment for cloud and hybrid setups
Single-tenant or instance deployments can be limiting for large enterprises
Customer Success & Support
ABACUS is a fully supported platform built to deliver value for enterprise architects and organizations. With programs designed to get teams up to speed quickly using their own business data, extensive training options for various users, and resources covering technical and scenario-driven aspects, teams can achieve quick time-to-value.
Your Tool Requirements
24/7 email support; weekday phone support and online or in-person training
Support and training equip teams with the skills to deliver value. Check if support is available locally for your time zone.
Knowledge Base and Self-Service Learning
Online Knowledge Base with searchable introductory tutorials, expert guides and peer-to-peer forums
Peer-to-peer and community user groups can provide valuable guidance and ideas
Dedicated Customer Success and Rapid Start Programs tailored to business outcomes
Tailored training using company data can accelerate enterprise architecture programs
As-needed technical and discipline specialist advice and masterclasses
Understand the level of expertise and and support expecatation required for your team
How can ABACUS support your team?