How the Standard has been Used Successfully to Deliver Value to the European Union
Testimonial by Raul Abril, European Commission
This is a real case application of the ArchiMate standard in the European Interoperability Reference Architecture (EIRA) modelling.
About the European Commission
The European Commission (EC) is an institution of the European Union, responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU.
The European Commission is continuously developing and deploying the European Interoperability Reference Architecture (EIRA) for classifying and organizing building blocks relevant to interoperability and used for the delivery of digital public services. The goal of the architecture is to facilitate interoperability and reuse of interoperability solutions when developing public services.
Requirements to build the reference architecture had been collected from different EU members through a collaborative effort and implemented through tickets. They are analysed in terms of impact, complexity, existing resources and other constraints.
One of the major challenges is the diversity of the EU Members States, e.g. different maturity level of the organisations involved in the collaborative effort. Most of the organisations had increased their maturity level however there are still differences that need to be overcome.
When members reach a higher maturity level, the concerns in relation with interoperability also change, making continuous orientation and support a need to be addressed.
The other challenge is common for every Enterprise Architecture (EA) project: value proposition. Being able to communicate the project value in a very effective way and in business terms is a key challenge to overcome. The fact that people are always busy is another challenge since the project value needs to be proven to people in order to engage them.
This is also a learning process, in general terms we have reached the maturity level where “we know what we do not know”.
In the United States of America, the situation might be different. A good example is the recognition of a driver’s license as an identity card across the United States.
Another challenge is to find a way to communicate effectively the need for interoperability since this effort needs to deal with communication between different countries and regions.
This is difficult since interoperability is not an easy subject. All the aspects are intricate, technical details are complex, standards are needed and also the effort to lead different stakeholders involved is challenging. Through the different phases this implies to lead, organize, and capture the real meaning of interoperability and find a consensus between countries.
EIRA Modelled in the ArchiMate Language … the Experience
The experience of delivering the EIRA modelling has been good. The ArchiMate standard is a well-defined standard and clearly states the rules and proper ontology. In that regard, it is “state of the art”.
There are however issues to overcome. One of them is the need to have proper tools in place so the rules could be properly applied. It should be an easy tool, ready to deliver different set of models.
Another key topic is the need to understand and communicate properly the meaning of different icons. It is therefore important to have a certified professional that can use the standard.
It is also important to support ArchiMate Certification and the standard professionalism.
It is also key to deliver an explanation for the graphical notation to make it easier for users to understand.
The Solution: Business Value Delivered having the EIRA in the ArchiMate Standard
Besides the good experience of using the ArchiMate modelling language to deliver the EIRA, it is essential to understand at what extent the final solution is delivering business value to different stakeholders.
The final delivery is a model. The key question is: What to do with the model? In relation to this, there must be a clear definition of the use cases that go with the model, and a compelling story and proper context for the model.
So the final users of the reference architecture need to easily figure out how they are going to use the EIRA.
Very specific use cases are already in place. One example is documenting solutions in production, which is important in many organisations. Usually it is not state of the art, but this is something that should be done.
This application and case study are not only for IT solutions but also for the business side. The use case could also refer to processes and document public services.
Another use case that delivers value on top of the ArchiMate standard is to provide the reference architecture template that could be reused and drag and drop the icons depending on the needs.
The value of the reference architecture is that it provides a baseline that could be used as the bases to add, modify or delete building blocks depending on the needs harvesting the existing resources. This is a powerful use.
Other use cases are the application of the reference architecture to support portfolio management and solutions delivery support. The baseline supports the identification of gaps to be filled, duplications and redundancies since it provides the taxonomy. This is the key for effectiveness support.
How about Interoperability and the ArchiMate Standard?
One of the objectives of using reference architecture is to promote and pursue interoperability. So it is interesting to know if the ArchiMate standard and also the ArchiMate Exchange File Format have been key success factors to support and leverage interoperability.
In this regard, the answer is YES. The ArchiMate standard supports interoperability representations, and also the ArchiMate Exchange File Format has been a powerful standard supporting organisations to interchange models and solutions between different tools with no issues.
Essential from a strategic perspective is to communicate models in a transparent way between different platforms.
In terms of professional development, ArchiMate Certification is important to Enterprise Architects who work with the ArchiMate language. For the concerned EA professionals in ArchiMate modelling, the certification will improve their understanding and reduce modelling errors.
In my opinion, it is important to highlight that EA professionals interested in both the ArchiMate and TOGAF certifications should use them together.
Based on his experience with the EIRA modelling using the ArchiMate standard, the European Commission representative provided the following quote on how the use of the ArchiMate language and open modelling standards has helped the Commission:
“The experience has been good as explained, but the standard adoption is critical. Like some other organisations we apply Paretto to define key activities for resources optimization. In relation with this assessment, the ArchiMate standard and also the ArchiMate Exchange File Format have both contributed to increased adoption of the European Interoperability Reference Architecture and have proven to be the crucial resources and activities for the project.”
“There is also confidence in the sustainability of the development. Resources have been invested in this work and should be carefully handled. In relation to this, we trust the sustainability of the ArchiMate standard.”
Raul Mario Abril Jimenez works in the ISA unit as Programme Manager, EU Policies, European Commission. He recently relocated to Brussels from Barcelona. He has had permanent residences in San Diego (USA) where he worked for 6 years and before he was based in Copenhagen (DK) for 7 years. He has +35 years of IT professional services experience on international professional engagements in Financial & Telco industries. His knowledge domains are Research Methods (Quantitative & Qualitative Analysis), Marketing (Research, IS), IT R&D (Portfolio Mgmt, Product Mgmt), Project Mgmt, and IS & Technology (Knowledge Management, DSS, BI, Data Warehousing, DBMS, IS Design). Raul has been professor in several universities and been active publishing his research.
Raul holds a doctoral degree (Henley Management College, UK), a European PhD Certification (European Doctoral School on Knowledge Management, DK), an Ing. Sup. Informatics (UAB, E), and a Master in Project Mgmt (The George Washington University, USA). He is a PMP certified professional.