What is TOGAF – without jargon

Yes, TOGAF is an EA (Enterprise Architecture) framework – but what is that suppose to mean?

Imagine that you have to oversee the IT integration of 2 companies which has merged and they have different ERP, CRM, billing system and the customer facing process are different. The merged entity needs to rationalize the product offering and needs to project a uniform and integrated face to the customer. Obviously, this is going to be a big challenge – technological, people, process and change-management. How would you go about this complex transition? You can do a ground up thinking and make a plan or you can take the help on an EA framework like TOGAF and tailor it to your specific needs.

However, the important point that needs to be kept in mind is that TOGAF is NOT a methodology for managing software development. It will help you to identify what software to build – what need the software should satisfy – if you are planning to outsource the work, what should go into an RFP – even how to monitor the development and implementation.

ADM = Architecture Development Method

If you look around a little you will realize that the core element of TOGAF is ADM. Important point to remember is the “A” in ADM is ARCHITECTURE and not application.

[BTW: TOGAF = The Open Group Architecture Framework and the current version is 9]

You will also come across this diagram either in the Wikipedia page on TOGAF or on the Introduction to ADM page on the TOGAF site. I won’t blame you if you find the content in these pages to be too confusing. However, the annotated diagram on the left should be able to give you an overview.

Though the diagram has 10 circles, ADM is essentially a 4 step process.

  1. Tailor TOGAF to suit your need: this is a onetime activity to be done before you start adopting TOGAF for your organization
  2. Define scope of work and prepare plan for rollout: this activity is made of six distinct steps – we will get into the details in a later post
  3. Oversee development and implementation: how the actual development and implementation is done is not within the scope of TOGAF
  4. Manage post-implementation change: Any major change will trigger off another cycle of ADM

You may have multiple ADM cycles simultaneously running for different projects running within your organization. These projects need not be in sync.

Requirement Management = Central knowledge repository

The circle at the centre represents a knowledge repository. TOGAF was specific recommendations on how to organize the repository. We will see more about this in a later post.

I will also not get into the detail of what Enterprise Continuum is. If you had tried skimming through the TOGAF material, you surely would have encountered this term. It is a way of classifying item in the knowledge repository. On one dimension is to separate architecture and solution. On this other dimension is about moving from more generic to more specific (foundation, common system, industry, organization specific). Again, this requires more detailed discussion and we will do it in a later post.

Architecture as defined in TOGAF

The architecture is used in TOGAF in ways you would not normally use. You need some time to get used to it. The TOGAF study guide explicitly states that…

…”architecture” has two meanings depending upon the context:

  1. A formal description of a system, or a detailed plan of the system at a component level to guide its implementation
  2. The structure of components, their inter-relationships, and the principles and guidelines governing their design and evolution over time

At this stage I will not analyze this definition but draw your attention to 2 phrases – “detailed plan … to guide its implementation” and “evolution over time”. Do you find this different or confusing? You better get used to it.

If you come across the term Architecture Work, it means the work that needs to be done to move from baseline (current) architecture to target (desired) architecture. In simple term it means scope of work.

In the next post I will elaborate the 6 steps for defining scope of work and preparation of plan for rollout.

25 Responses to “What is TOGAF – without jargon”
  1. PC Chattergee says:

    Oh man, I REALLY had no idea….I thought TOGAF was Too Obfuscating to Give A F*K

  2. eacomposer1 says:

    I am very much impressed with your analysis and explanation,

  3. Bluna says:

    I really like your explanation and view of togaf.

    We want to use the ADM in the first years only for IT-Architecture. The Enterprise Architect wants to develop the IT-Architecture and he wants that the IT-Projects use the ADM as well to guide them.

    In Phase B-D is the requirement specification and in Phase E-F the solution building as far as I understood. Does phase E-F say how it will be implemented? Is it product specific or does this happen in the resulting projects? An really easy example for an IT-Project is the need for a webconferencing system. In Phase B-D I define the requirements and maybe a basic conception? Where do I evaluate different products? And where do I specify how to implement it in the architecture?

  4. Kyle Mitchell says:


    Can TOGAF be utilized by a company that wishes to undertake a large system integration effort?. The organization has a CRM, ERP for LOB systems and Accounting. The business wants to know the best set of systems to use as the existing ones were “bolted on” and forced to talk to each other through programming interfaces. Or would another methodology/framework be better?


  5. KP says:


    There is a mistake in the article. ADM is the Architecture Development Method, not the methodology!

  6. harpreet says:


    In case a company already has the required ERP, billing or CRM system, how can they benefit from TOGAF

    • Udayan Banerjee says:

      TOGAF is useful when you are planning to change how you operate. For example, if you see a need to extend the ERP to some of your business partners.

  7. @Udayan : “Yes, TOGAF is an EA (Enterprise Architecture) framework”

    No it is not. It is an EITA framework. The Open Group and the authors of TOGAF now admit that it is an EITA framework and not an EA framework.

    This is why it is not called TOGEAF.

    • Udayan Banerjee says:

      I know this is a very contentious subject. There has been a very interesting debate in LinkenIn – here is a summary of the discussion – Is EA dying?

      • It is only contencious in the say that whether the world was flat or
        round was contentious. Yes there may be a lot of confusion but the fact of
        the matter is the world is not flat. And, the faster we get everyone to
        understand that means that we can devote time to actually utilising rather
        than pointlessly discussing it.

        There was a discussion titles "This is what is killing Enterprise
        Architecture… Quote from "John Zachman" article..;-)" on the "iCMG
        Architecture World" group of linked in, where a member of The Open group
        admits to this fact, and I quote part of that discussion …..


        Kirk Rheinlander: "TOGAF is great stuff – it is just NOT enterprise
        architecture. Simple as that."

        @Leonard Fehskens (VP Skills and Capabilities at The Open Group ) –
        "No argument. It is clearly an EITA/EISA framework. The Open Group
        admits that, the TOGAF developers admit that. "

        and Leonard goes on to say….

        "Several people ask that The Open Group do something about TOGAF being
        mispositioned as an EA (rather than EISA or EITA) framework. We are.
        That’s all I can say at this point. But, I have to remind you, there is
        a lot of inertia in the EA community, and while I am quite pleased that
        you all think TOGAF is so influential, just repositioning TOGAF properly
        is not going to change everyone’s thinking overnight. I have been making
        the distinction between EA and EITA/EISA at every conference I have
        spoken at for at least five years now, and I feel rather more like
        Sisyphus than the kid who said the emperor has no clothes. "


        This discussion is at http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=13538834&gid=1976291
        but you will probably need to cut and paste the link for it to work and you
        will need to be a member of the the "iCMG Architecture World" group.

        PS – I do not dislike TOGAF, I think it’s great (although I think it could
        be a lot more pragmatic of course!) for IT architecture and it and The Open
        Group have helped immensely in getting architecture accepted within IT.

  8. Hmm says:

    What is TOGAF – without jargon?

    Nothing. It is nothing without Jargon 🙂

    • sami rehman says:

      If anyone wants to use keyboard and google to prove/disapprove ideas, framework or whatever…then you will find lot of copy-paste-able quotes to make your point. You will find similarly a lot of noise online about RUP, PRINCE2, ITIL, Agile etc. The important thing is to read and learn a couple of frameworks and apply what suits your enterprise, ideally stick to one governing framework. The arguments that people make about TOGAF could be made for just about any other framework (ie such arguments themselves are nothing but jargons).

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