TOGAF is by far the most known Enterprise Architecture certificate. However, it has already been developed in the 90s and IT has developed a lot since then. It is only natural that many professionals ask themselves whether TOGAF is still relevant or not. This article explains arguments for and against the relevancy of TOGAF and analyzes the areas content, certification, industry expectations, and salary impact.
Becoming TOGAF certified is surely helpful for developing a broad knowledge in the area of Enterprise Architecture, as the TOGAF Standard covers a wide range of topics. Generally, learning and knowing the content will enrich your work and help you to align with most Enterprise Architects that you will meet.
However, what the certification will not provide you with is the knowledge about modern Enterprise Architecture practices. Neither will it provide you with the experience of an Enterprise Architect, which is by far the most important aspect for an Enterprise Architecture position. But what about the particular frameworks and content that TOGAF provides?
The beauty of these frameworks is their generic nature. They talk a lot about views, viewpoints, and ways to simplify the reality in order to make it understandable – from different perspectives. They also talk about the generic approach from identifying what you have today, where you want to be, what is the gap, how to get there, and how to achieve and keep that. They also talk about libraries for different documents, about useful templates, and about stakeholders and parties that have relevance for enterprise architecture.
However, there are surely a few aspects that, today, are not relevant anymore and that hence should be adapted. In the following, I analyze two particular contents of TOGAF, which are its Glossary and the TOGAF Architecture layers.
The TOGAF glossary is one of the TOGAF contents that are cited the most by architects. However, terms and definitions are from the 90s and sometimes a bit hard to understand nowadays and, due to new technologies, need to be adapted or extended sometimes. This is only normal, because the wording of terms and their definitions changes over time. When somebody heard “Information Technology” in the 90s, the first topics somebody thought of were probably semiconductors, servers, personal computers, or LAN cables. Today, people rather think of topics such as cloud storage, data bandwidth, apps, or mobile. In such cases, definitions need to be revised and adapted to also cover IT aspects that nobody thought of 30 years ago. What about the Architecture layers of the TOGAF Architecture Development Method (ADM)?
TOGAF Architecture Layers
The TOGAF Architecture layers are key to the TOGAF Architecture Development Method (ADM), which is the heart of the TOGAF Standard. However, the TOGAF Architecture layers are seldom used as they are nowadays, as the focus has shifted. In the beginnings of IT, there was a large gap between the IT and the Business Departments. Also, there were fewer techniques that helped to align both worlds. Nowadays, there is a strong emphasis on business capabilities, user journeys, customer-centric views and other concepts. Currently, TOGAF does not reflect this emphasis.
Another change that took place in the last 20 to 30 years is that the importance of data that is transferred between different systems, applications, and ecosystems has strongly increased. Moreover, there is a broad scope of approaches and tools that address either the application landscape of a company or the organization´s data. Both are very different topics nowadays that should also be separated accordingly. In the current ADM, however, applications and data are both part of the Information Systems Architecture. The ADM should therefore change in such a way that this phase is separated into two different phases: One to manage the architecture of the application portfolio and its lifecycle, and one to manage the data architecture including data models, master data, and interfaces.
Next, the ADM has been developed in a world in which the Internet was something new and where there was very little cyber security threats and only a few things that architecture could do in order to block attacks or mitigate their effects. Nowadays, however, security and especially cyber security must be at the forefront of each new architectural design. Technologies such as the cloud, trends such as digital ecosystems, and partnerships with many different third parties have led to a tremendous increase in possible risks and ways to attack. In order to consider this fundamental change, it should also be reflected by an additional ADM phase called Security Architecture.
The current main release of TOGAF is version 9 and it was released in 2011. As the content has not changed a lot between the minor releases 9.1 and 9.2, the current version of TOGAF is mainly based on content that is at least a decade old. Additionally, there is no need for a re-certification between minor releases. Therefore, many current TOGAF practitioners might not be aware of the latest content.
However, having a TOGAF certification has a positive signaling effect on the market. It provides a signal to potential employers that you have put a strong focus on Enterprise Architecture in your professional career and that you have a broad and profound knowledge in that area.
Another aspect to consider is that the number of people that are TOGAF certified has strongly increased in the past years. On the one hand, this might lead to a saturation of the market of TOGAF specialists and being certified might not be a differentiator anymore. On the other hand, a TOGAF certification is increasingly becoming an expected part of your CV. If you are not certified, employers might wonder why you have not even achieved the certification that is most relevant in the area of Enterprise Architecture and that only takes about a week or two of effort.
Whether a TOGAF certification is relevant for a job position or not depends mainly on the company you apply for. For instance, governmental architecture positions request TOGAF certifications more often than architecture positions in startups. Due to their size and complexity, they typically have frameworks and best practices in place that are often a modified version of TOGAF. In such organizations, TOGAF is always a good reference. Additionally, given the fact that TOGAF introduces many terms and definitions that architects within a company need to know in order to be able to align with each other, organizations are also likely to stick to TOGAF once they have adopted and accepted it.
TOGAF Salary Impact
In the end, TOGAF provides a set of tools that help an architect to execute his or her work. If you ask yourself whether a TOGAF certification leads to a higher salary, ask yourself the following question:
Would a painter request a higher price for a painting because he or she bought a new brush? If there were two painters with the same skills, the one with the better brush would definitely create the better outcome. However, if the painter with the better brush has only little skills, the outcome of his or her work is very likely to be not as good as the one from the other painter.
A TOGAF certification can be compared to the brush in the above story. Having a TOGAF certification is therefore likely to not have a strong positive impact on your salary.
It seems that there are many arguments that speak for a relevance of TOGAF as well as against a relevance of TOGAF. In the end, this analysis can only provide input for a decision that one as to take individually.
What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!