How to Build an Enterprise Architecture Repository

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Architects need to store, communicate, and reuse architectural information. In a digital world, this content can become one of the key assets of the enterprise.

Managing an architecture repository well and analyzing it to provide timely information and guidance is a hallmark of successful architecture teams. Your enterprise architecture repository tools will need to adapt, accommodating changes in the enterprise and its business strategy.

What is Enterprise Architecture Repository Best Practice?

An enterprise architecture repository can be defined as a central hub for your entire enterprise architecture. It is designed to be a robust store for all of your architecture content and artifacts: data, models and diagrams, frameworks, roadmaps, capabilities and design patterns. It is also a collaborative workspace that allows IT and business teams to navigate the data, workflows and processes efficiently.

The best enterprise architecture repositories connect data, diagrams and metrics and KPIs so they remain integrated and accurate, even as components are regularly updated.

What is an EA Artifact?

Architecture artifacts are the individual pieces of information that collectively describe and document an organization’s IT and business architecture. These include diagrams and models, documentation, roadmaps and metrics and KPIs. They should be stored in a tool which can manage data, models and metamodels. Leading enterprise architecture repository tools, such as ABACUS, are designed to support teams in managing and maintaining architectural artifacts in one location.

The repository also becomes a source of reusable components- or “technology building blocks”, including capabilities, solution and infrastructure designs. This streamlines design processes, and fuels innovation. These components allow architects to enable a range of business initiatives quickly.

If you need to assess your current infrastructure against evolving business needs or emerging technologies, your team can also leverage the repository’s comprehensive data to make informed decisions and chart a sensible course of action.

Enterprise architecture repository tool dashboard

What are the Benefits of Enterprise Architecture Repository Tools?

An architecture repository can streamline knowledge sharing, process management, collaboration, scenario analysis and decision making.

Reusable Components: We have already covered the benefits of reusable components and standardization, above.

Guardrails and Governance: Another valuable aspect of a repository is the layer of governance, permissions and version control; aspects which are valuable in large dispersed global teams. Architects or business managers need to be able to set guardrails for collaboration, including fine-tuning access and editing permissions, and setting rules to guide modelling or data updates. Audit trails can be useful for keeping teams and managers informed and accountable.

Impact Analysis: A central source of data also enables impact analysis, allowing architects to identify how a proposed change might ripple through the system, uncovering potential risks, bottlenecks and conflicts before they cause problems.

Compliance Management: Large organizations also have a keen focus on compliance management, and a central repository helps to simplify adherence to regulatory requirements by storing, managing, and documenting relevant architectural artifacts precisely.

Cost Efficiency: Finally, managing content in a repository reduces costs associated with duplication, unnecessary rework or redundant development and poor data governance.

How to Maintain an Enterprise Architecture Repository

In a robust enterprise architecture repository tool such as ABACUS, administrators can set permissions so that users across the enterprise can maintain data, documentation, models and diagrams according to their role. This might include:

  • Updating registers of assets, applications, technology, people, resources etc. with lists, picklists or freeform text.
  • Viewing or updating diagrams such as process models, application interface diagrams, ERDs or cloud architectures. In ABACUS, diagrams can be edited quickly via an online canvas, or by editing diagram components in views such as catalogs.

Architects can also use integration and APIs to import or map to content stored in SharePoint, Excel, ServiceNow and other master data sources.

Who can Update the Enterprise Architecture Repository?

When creating an EA repository, it is important to ensure that you set up the informational structure to support your business goals. Your architecture metamodel provides the foundation for this, specifying how an organization’s systems and assets are logically structured and connected.

For instance, a popular choice might be a TOGAF-10-metamodel-based architecture repository. In ABACUS, architects can use a TOGAF 10 library for this purpose, plus a wide range of other industry standards and popular icon libraries (such as AWS, GCP). Architects can also add to their metamodel as they go. An architect might choose to use TOGAF initially, and then add the NIST cybersecurity framework, or BPMN modelling, as required.

Architects with the appropriate ABACUS permissions can select or adjust their metamodel with drag and drop commands.

Architecture Repository Tool Alternatives

Alternatives to an architecture repository often include documentation in SharePoint, diagrams stored in Visio or PowerPoint, and data stored in Excel.

For global businesses, however, static diagrams created using drawing tools are prone to becoming outdated quickly and are often forgotten or archived.

With an EA repository tool, the investment of time teams make in diagrams and views is more likely to pay dividends in the form of a continuously updated and accessible store of valuable business insights.

A comprehensive repository helps to avoid data silos and allow business leaders to make informed data-driven decisions.

Enterprise Architecture Repository Example

A presentation “Creating an Effective Enterprise Architecture Repository” by architects at a leading global insurance group walks through how to use the ABACUS enterprise architecture tool repository as the basis for creating value. It covers:

  • Creating a roadmap for adoption of an EA repository
  • Building an effective metamodel for business, application, data, and technology
  • Tips for managing data sources, data harvesting and integration processes
  • Application Roadmaps, Technical Debt Analysis, Capability Models, Business Processes, Finance System Architecture, IT Budget Forecasts, Organisation-to-Portfolio Diagrams and Models, Data Lineage, Business Glossary
  • Setting up CMDB imports, Power BI integrations and using an API effectively
  • Co-ordinating with Business Analysts, Business Architects, Solution Architects, Finance Managers, Data Governance and Security and Risk, Organizational Mapping
  • Calculating and presenting cost data, application costs, support costs, TCO for IT and Business Support
  • Assembling information for key strategic decisions & major business transitions

Download our Guide: How to Build an EA Repository

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