Custom «Zachman Framework» Sample Essay

Custom «Zachman Framework» Sample Essay


John Zachman was an employee of IBM, a leading company in the computer technology industry for almost 26 years. During his stay at IBM, Zachman developed various theories about how architectures should be developed or formulated. Zachman was, literally, a great blessing to the system of business planning programs. His theories were based on aircraft manufacturing and development of architectures. Most of his prototypes were complicated and required the input of engineers. These approaches were, thus, named Zachmans framework for information systems architecture (ISA) (Inmon, Zachman & Geiger, 2007).

The main concept behind these frameworks is how different complex designs can be integrated and the relationships established to develop systems. Basically, the framework was designed to display how various entities fit in and is characterized by taxonomy. The concept centers on the theory that all entities fit in 30 boxes or cell division and 6 columns. This idea allows the framework to be applicable in any setting. For instance, Zachman used an illustration on the industry of construction in bringing out his arguments. He incorporated the idea into two distinct categories. The first category consisted of the participants of construction, namely, owner or owners, builders, users and casual workers. The second category presented the set of questions that all participants have to ask themselves when going about their business. These questions include: What? How? Where? When? Who? and Why? By allocation of the answers to these questions, one is able to plan operations appropriately and in the most effective way possible. However, this process is governed by seven rules which explains that these frameworks are just theories rather than exactly established methodologies (O'Rourke, Fishman, & Selkow, 2003).

Major Enterprise Architecture Issues

In order to be well vast with the frameworks, one needs to understand some of the major architectural issues in terms of enterprising. These issues include:

  1. Developed excluding the idea of growth in enterprise architecture.
  2. Created in a taxonomic form instead of a framework.
  3. Undefined Zachman framework.


Developed Excluding the Idea of Growth in Enterprise Architecture

During the initial presentation of Zachman framework, no one had an idea of how growth of the enterprise architecture would be. Consequently, the idea was brought to life with a very narrow scope. From the information given in the articles, it is evident that growth in a company results into changes of how the framework is applied. In this case, the framework has development protocol. Development protocol contains the record of how the framework should be applied in case a company or an entire industry experiences tremendous growth. Nonetheless, this issue has not been well streamlined, hence, for the framework to attain maximum success, this issue should be sorted.

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Created in the Form of Taxonomy Instead of a Framework

The Zachman framework is viewed as a taxonomic structure because the steps followed are not well stipulated in the process. Taxonomy can be boldly described as grouping of entities in various relevant categories. It can, however, be called a framework since it contains instructions for a process. Conclusively, it can be called a taxonomy framework.

Undefined Zachman Framework

The articles on Zachman framework go into detail on how the framework is carried out and applied. Nonetheless, the articles do not give clear guidelines of how to tackle various issues in the framework as well as provide insufficient information on the rules to be relied upon in application of the framework. The guidelines of how to use the framework are also not well spelt out. For instance, after formulation of the grid, they do not provide tips on what path to follow.

In that case, in order to have a clear understanding, a study has to be carried out on the grid, questions and the rules involved. This grid should contain five rows and six columns. In the columns, we put the vital questions needed in application of the framework. The ’’who’’ question can be in the form of data, functions or even networks. The ‘’why’’ question is mostly about motivation for actions. On the other hand, the rows contain various players in the system including the owner or owners, designer, workers, and other vital players. With this information, answering the questions in the grid becomes easier.

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The grid is then divided into 7 guidelines (rules). The first rule is that the column side has no specific order. The order itself is derived from priorities. Therefore, in application of the grid, priorities need to be set. It simply implies that all columns have equal importance to each other. The second rule states that every column has its own design and model. This rule is related to all other rules of the grid. The third rule emphasizes on the basic model of columns. Each model has to be unique. This criterion is vital since it prevents duplication of activities in the framework. The fourth rule states that each row with unique basic model represents its own special entity. In compliance with this rule, every row has its own perspective and responsibility (Chen & Pooley, 2011).

The fifth rule further states that each cell is unique. The rule puts the grid into the form of a periodic table and every cell on this table is unique in terms of function and perspective. The sixth rule, states that cells in one row have the same perspective. The main reason for this rule is in case of any additional cells in a single row. It explains why cells are related as to reduce complexity. The final rule rather generalizes the entire framework. It says that the framework can be used for anything.

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It is quite evident that the framework guides the user through a session of questions and answers with the rules that help in relation but it does not provide exact guidelines of use.

Current Status

The latest version of the framework is the Zachman Framework V3.0. This version caters for a period of over 4 decades (40 years) with growth protocols. The version took close to 12 months to develop by the Zachman International group of experts and in other terms is referred to as the ‘Zachman Ontology of Enterprise Architecture’. Generally, this new version has been improved in order to be more user friendly and more effective in many settings.

The version has undergone 16 modifications for enhancement. The most noticeable and important modifications is that the framework changed into an ontology, introduction of vertical relationship line between columns and enhancement of the science of enterprise architecture. This has allowed it to develop from being just a theory and enhanced its practical utilization. The changes are more, but the above are the most important. It is amazing how much the framework has improves since its first development.

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It is quite evident from the information if the framework is more of theory based than a methodology. It is also highly cumbersome to understand the steps of the framework since it is not well elaborated for the users. The framework centers on understanding of the grid. Mastery of the grid allows relationship between processes to be established. Understanding of the activity in question is vital to be able to fill correct information in the grid. The self-elaborate rules, however, are aimed at making it easier and friendlier to the users. Overall, development of the framework was a beneficial idea since it helps in decision making in companies, hence, makes the work of managers easier.

The main problem related to the framework is that it lacks clear guidelines and a clear path to follow in its application in various fields. This is also the most cumbersome part of using the framework because the user does not know what to answer and what to do. Sometimes this might result into a deviation from the right path. It might even get to a point that money and time have been invested in the project with no turning back.

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Using the grid is, however, not the only milestone. After using the grid one is required to derive plans and strategies to develop the project. Most people may be mistaken at this stage, hence, making wrong decisions and plans for the future. Nonetheless, half a loaf is better than none. Therefore, the framework is not entirely hard to operate or useless. Its application may be vital in making management decisions for projects.


  1. The framework should be given time for growth and development in various industries where it is applied.
  2. The name of this framework should be changed to a more methodology related one.
  3. Clear definition of the merits of the framework should be presented to the industry so as the users can know the exact advantages they expect from the framework.
  4. The process of the framework should be enhanced and more guidelines given to make it more user-friendly.

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