Friday, October 26, 2012

A new column to the Zachman Framework.. "Because"

Without the "Because" column.
VA's Version of the Zachman Framework

I think about John Zachman and the Zachman framework and I marvel at how it transformed IT and gave a framework to start discussing what are the elements that are in our computer architecture and it blends in the business viewpoint.  However, Zachman, and most other Enterprise Architecture frameworks began their life as ways of understanding what we build in information technologies.  I am changing my efforts to considering how does a move to an ecosystem computing affect this.

One of the elements of this ecosystem is events and its corresponding event processing.  Events represent "something of significance", so I was curious and wondered "where do events fit on Zachman's Framework"?

The most obvious answer is that there is a column called "when" and some representation of the framework emphasis events.  However, my read of the "when" column is that they are speaking more of knowing the cycles that happen inside an enterprise.  Examples of these cycle are things like "payroll cycle", "sales cycle", "tax season".  They represent the patterns of peaks and valleys of work to be done by the enterprise.  To give another example, a college admissions office may have large spike in work 4 to 5 months prior to graduation for secondary education but have smaller spikes around the start of other semesters.  These cycle are known "way we do business".  Anyone who has a friend who is a tax account in the U.S. knows not to invite them to a party between March and April 15.

What I want to focus on is the events or "somethings of significance" that their occurrence is not known.  These would be things like "competitor released new product" or "stock market gain / loss" or "employee quit"  These things are not schedule events like what you find in the "when" column but they are very critical to the success of the business.  So, why isn't there a means of capturing them?  The column name is "because" as in "I am executing this process because of this situation".

So what would the rows look like for this column?

Because Column
What it means
ExecutiveList of SituationsWhat situations do we care about.
Business MgmtSituation Definition  What does the situation look like?
ArchitectSituation RepresentationHow do we know the situation occurred?
EngineerEvent DefinitionDescribe the message used to announce
TechnicianEvent AlgebraCombination of items used to sense the situation

Types of Processes

Although processes are covered in the Zachman Framework, I wanted to bring something to the attention of  event practitioners.  When I think of processes, I tend to think of 5 types...
  1. Processes that we (the company) control
  2. Processes that our partners (supply chain) control
  3. Processes that our competitors control
  4. Processes that government (regulations) control
  5. Processes that nature (don't mess with mother nature) controls
As we go down the list, the amount of control is less.  We need to deploy our sensors and attune them to "see" the effects of these processes to gain situational awareness and therefore be able to appropriately react.  It is this space where an event practitioner should focus to bring the most value to the organization.