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Changing Principles

In EA, architecture principles set a framework for making architectural decisions.  They help to establish a common understanding across different groups of stakeholders, and provide guidance for portfolios and projects.  Michael Durso of the LSE gave a good introduction to the idea in a webinar last week for the UCISA EA community.

Many organisations take the TOGAF architecture principles as a starting point.  These are based on the four architectural domains of TOGAF: business, information/data, applications, technology/infrastructure.  These principles tend to describe what should be done, e.g. re-use applications, buy in software rather than build it, keep data secure.  See for example the principles adopted at Plymouth University and the University of Birmingham.

Recently though, I encountered a different way of looking at principles.  The user experience design community tend to focus more on how we should do things.  E.g. we should start with user needs, use iterative developm…
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How to spread architectural thinking?

As I noted in October, my rate of blogging has dropped noticeably, from 34 posts in 2016 to a mere 7 last year.  I don't really adopt new year's resolutions but as a goal for this year, I would like to wrote more posts.  I like to keep this blog both as a means for letting colleagues know what we're working on, and as an area of reflection for myself.

The two main obstacles to writing more stem from the same source: the University has a large number of initiatives under way and we are trying to support them with a architecture team of just three people.  So on the one hand, we have a lot of other demands on our time aside from writing for this blog, while on the the other hand the initatives are large and ongoing, which makes them hard to summarise in succinct posts. 

Yet to make our architecture work yield its best effect, we have to write, and talk, and communicate widely.  And, to be fair, we do this: via board reports, presentations, one-to-one meetings, strategy docum…

EDUCAUSE 2017

The annual EDUCAUSE conference attracted 8,000 people to the Philadelphia convention centre, including four of us from the University of Edinburgh.  My colleagues were giving presentations, while my main reason for attending was the pre-conference workshop on Enterprise Architecture and Digital Transformation, which I blogged about last week.

The conference itself offered a smorgasbord of options.  I mainly attended sessions about new technologies, which I blogged about on the Applications Directorate blog, and a few others which consolidated my existing interests.  If these topics weren't to your taste, there were also sessions about research, learning technologies, enterprise systems, leadership development, equality and diversity, and many other aspects of IT in higher education.

The exhibit hall gave opportunities to talk to many vendors, from the large established corporations to the newcomers in "startup alley". I chatted to several CRM vendors, and looked at other…

A brief summary of our major initiatives

I notice that in 2016 I wrote 34 posts on this blog.  This is only my fifth post in 2017 and we're already three-quarters of the way through the year.  Either I've suddenly got lazier, or else I've had less time to spend writing here.  As I'm not inclined to think of myself as especially lazy, I'm plumping for the latter explanation.

There really is a lot going on.  The University has several major initiatives under way, many of which need input from the Enterprise Architecture section.

The Service Excellence programme is overhauling (the buzzword is "transforming") our administrative processes for HR, Finance, and Student Administration.  Linked to this is a programme to procure an integrated ERP system to replace the adminstrative IT systems. 

Enabling Digital Transformation is a programme to put the middleware and architecture in place so that we can make our processes "digital first".  We're implementing an API framework, a notification…

A new EA Repository

One of my goals since starting this job two years ago has always been to create a repository for architecture documents.  The idea is to have a central store where people can find information about the University's applications, data sources, business processes, and other architectural information.  This store will make it easier for us to explain our plans, to show the current state of the University's information systems, and to explain what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

It's taken a long time to reach this goal, mainly because we're often had more pressing and immediate work to be done.  The creation of a repository is one of those tasks that is very important but never quite urgent.  So I'm now very happy to say that we are in the process of deploying a repository and modelling tool.


This is the culmination of a careful process to select the most appropriate tool for our needs.  We began by organising several workshops to gather requirements from a rang…