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Cleaning: How to Simplify Enterprise Architecture Models

Model Curation Techniques # 1 - Cleaning your EA model before you let other people see it

How to Simplify Enterprise Architecture Models

Have you ever got to the point in your EA modelling work where you need others to review or use your beautiful model? You give them access, then wait for the admiring emails to arrive. After all, this is clever stuff.

But no feedback arrives.

You:  “What did you think of our model?
Them:  “It’s complicated

Of course it’s a bit complicated: EA lets you build really rich, highly-linked models, capturing all sorts of architectural, project and company knowledge. You’ve been building this model for ages, so obviously there’s lots of ideas in it. That’s why you wanted to share it.

But maybe there’s more to sharing a model with someone than just creating an EA username and telling them where the server is.

Techniques to improve models and share project knowledge effectively in EA fall into three categories: Cleaning, Navigating and Validating. The first of these categories is the easiest…

Cleaning your model

1. Is the model tidy?

Is everything in the model fit for public consumption? Are your ‘workings out’, previous drafts and gash diagrams cluttering up the structure?
Models quickly fill-up with half-finished ideas and diagrams. New users won’t know to ignore these. So have a really good tidy up (take a backup first!) and either delete this stuff, or put it into a place where the new user won’t find it, or where it’s obvious that they shouldn’t look at it.

2. Naming and descriptions

Make sure the package and element names make sense to others, not just to you. Packages with names like “Other Stuff” or “Random thoughts” may not make sense to anyone else.
Either tidy these up (see 1) or rename them with something more useful. And give each package a short description, telling the new user what it contains. Is it just some draft ideas? Or signed-off and fixed forever?

3. Ownership of model elements, packages and diagrams

The creator of each package, element and diagram is identified in the EA ‘Author’ field. Are all of those authors still on the project? Or even in the company? If there is a question about the content, who should people talk to now? It will save time and confusion if the author names are changed to the names of the current subject matter experts, so that new readers know where to go for clarification.

Now the existing content has been cleaned up, it’s time to think about finding our way around.

Other articles in this series:

#2: Navigating

#3: Validating

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