Zachman in a Nuthsell: Framework and Examples

Working in Enterprise or IT architecture, knowing about the Zachman framework is fundamental. Today´s article provides a summary of the framework, examples, and links to relevant sources.

Zachman Framework Relevance

Zachman is a metamodel that provides a fundamental structure and classification for your enterprise architecture work. Being a metamodel, it does not describe the process of creating an enterprise architecture. However, when Zachman published his framework in 1987, it was the first widely recognized enterprise architecture framework theory. He, therefore, was the first to propose a method to describe various aspects of IT according to different stakeholder perspectives. This enabled business and IT to use the same description methods, work on joint views, and align their ways of thinking. Zachman also gave a direction for various enterprise architecture frameworks and theories that followed after 1987, such as the TOGAF framework, which was initially released in 1995.

Zachman Framework Structure

In the Zachman framework, the content of enterprise architecture is abstracted into the description of six different aspects of IT. When all six perspectives are completed, so believed Zachman, an enterprise architecture would be fully described. In addition to the six aspects of IT, the framework has six additional questions to answer. The result is a 6×6 matrix with 36 cells. Each cell stands for an individual perspective or viewpoint:

The aspects of IT are the following: Executive perspective, business management perspective, architect perspective, engineer perspective, technician perspective, and enterprise perspective. The six questions are: What? How? Where? Who? When? Why?

Zachman Framework Example

Imagine that you are a business partner of an international manufacturer of decomposable coffee cups. Part of your business model is not only the production, but also involves the required ecosystem, including suppliers, logistic networks, and marketing partnerships. Your company has decided to enter a new market in another country. Your CEO has asked your CIO, has asked you, to provide a comprehensive positioning document from your perspective. What would you do and how could the Zachman framework help you with that?

First of all, you would understand that your expertise as a business partner is required, as much as your skills to prepare the documentation for the executive level in a way that they easily understand it. As you know that the audience (not your skills) is the important factor in choosing the right row in the Zachman framework, you decide to look at the roles/audiences / EA perspectives of an executive (first row).

Second, you would decide which questions are relevant for you to be answered. As the decision to enter the new market has already been taken, you assume that you do not need to answer “Why” you want to enter the new market. You would also assume that “Where” is irrelevant, as everyone knows which market is in focus. However, after thinking about it, you would decide that all the other questions are quite relevant. Therefore, you would start to prepare material around the following questions:

  1. What needs to be done so that we can enter the new market? What would be the big, major steps?
  2. How would we do that? Will we use central or decentral IT systems?
  3. Who would do that? Would we find local outsourcing partners or bring in our experts?
  4. When could we do that? What timeline do requirements and lead times of our IT landscape suggest?

For all those questions, you would make sure that they can be easily understood by your target audience, the executive level.

More Examples of the Zachman Framework

Another way to look at the Zachman framework is to understand where you would locate document types, artifacts, and materials you already know. As mentioned, the metamodel Zachman is supposed to provide a location for all those different types that exist. Take a look at this article to find out how they match into the framework.

Want another Zachman Framework Example? This article provides a Zachman Framework Example of a CRM system being implemented.

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