The state of TOGAF

It began with an article about the recent TOGAF conference written by Tom Graves. That article contained a quote I twittered:

We’re actually quite close to the point where a TOGAF certification is an indication that someone is not capable of doing enterprise architecture.

Twitter is a medium not really suitable for intelligent conversation. You only have 140 characters, there is no room for nuances or context. I did include a short url to the original article so people could get the whole picture. Nevertheless, the quote is out of context and that scared Tom.

In his follow up article Tom tries to explain where his statement came from. I hope that anyone understands that neither Tom nor I ever tried to say that people with a TOGAF certification are not capable of Enterprise Architecture. The TOGAF certification doesn’t differ from most other certifications out there. Having the certification does not guarantee knowledge and expertise. Not having the certification doesn’t mean you are inexperienced either.

The reason for me to twitter the quote was because I found it to be representative for what my generally feeling about TOGAF is. TOGAF needs a reality check, and soon.

In fact, Tom sums it up perfectly in his follow up post (and I urge you to read it instead of just depending on the cut and pastes I make):

  • he reference-architectures (Part VI of the TOGAF spec: ‘Technical Reference Model’ and ‘Integrated Information Infrastructure Reference Model’) are way out of date, and at the least need a complete overhaul, if not dumped altogether [that was from the Open Group’s lead Allen Brown, in one of the plenary sessions]
  • “almost no-one” uses the ADM in the form described in the TOGAF specification [in my last post I said I thought that was one of the guys from Deloitte, but my notes indicate it was Mike Lambert from Architecting the Enterprise, one of the lead TOGAF training groups]

These are two major shortcomings of TOGAF and Tom is not the only one mentioning them. Combine that with these two fundamental characteristics of Enterprise Architecture:

  • enterprise architecture is much broader than IT, and must now encompass the whole of the enterprise [that theme came up at least a dozen times, in plenary sessions and elsewhere]
  • enterprise architecture needs to be understood as a professional discipline, comparable to other professional disciplines such as medicine and building-architecture [again, many people, but particularly Len Fehskens, Open Group VP on Skills and Capabilities]

TOGAF has become enormously mal-aligned with Enterprise Architecture. It started in the wrong camp (IT) and even after a couple of versions (7.x, 8.x and now 9) it does not succeed in taking the right path. That is kind of ironic for a framework that is supposed to align business with IT.

Only in the last couple of months people start talking about some of the shortcomings of TOGAF. Everyone else is still covering up the shortcomings while making money from the “big TOGAF standard”. Each time you ask about some unclear element of TOGAF, the answer you’ll get will sound like “oh, but you don’t have to take that so literal, you have to adapt it”.

I sincerely hope we will get more people to speak up about TOGAF and get a significant better and mostly leaner version of the standard.