I'm struggling with the value of TOGAF on my current assignment.
· We have a need to develop architectural thinking up the 'food-chain' to the C-level to help inform business strategy.
· The IT Leadership want to focus on: agility & resilience (fast response and ability to thrive under constant change), security, value-for-money and continuously improving User Experience.
· Unusually for a private company, we are not currently focused on competition (we are a monopoly) nor inefficiency (labour cost - we rarely 'let people go').
· We have established business-engaged governance mechanisms around Cyber Threat, however, there's cultural resistance to Western-style Governance practices and methods in other areas.
· The IT department is mostly seen as a Cost Centre, although we are making some progress here.
· English is the second language for the vast majority of our employees.
· Experienced Enterprise Architects are rarer than hen's teeth in Hong Kong.
· A few on my team have been trained and 'Certified' in TOGAF (mostly before I joined) but they have not actually practiced EA (for a wide variety of reasons) since attending the course.
· TOGAF is hard to comprehend for those whose 1st language is English, so it's an even greater challenge for my team.
· TOGAF just tries too hard and ends up failing on a few counts; it's too comprehensive to be a usable framework and not specific enough to be a methodology. It's almost a philosophy, but a very incomplete and, at times, dangerously misleading one. This is very hard for my team to make sense of and I find myself having very long conversations with them where we end up agreeing that we reduce or focus on one or two of the TOGAF concepts (usually around a deliverable).
· TOGAF doesn't seem to help very much when it comes to the challenges we face around Consumer-led IT.
· TOGAF does encourage SOA, that would help our agility & resilience goal eventually, but we're quite a way from developing a genuine component-based, shared-services architecture due to the business organisation, culture and funding mechanisms. And we can't wait for those to change to be able meet our agility & resilience needs.
· It’s fair to say, TOGAF training does help introduce newbies to some important EA perspectives and does help with common terms and concepts, but it requires a lot of additional buddy-work with an experienced architect to become useful and, what's worse, it conveys the wrong message; 'Enterprise Architecture is complicated and requires a high intellectual capacity to understand'. The latter being the absolute opposite of what I need to convey across IT and the business; 'Enterprise Architecture is about joining-the-dots and making things simpler to understand'.
I do continue to put my team through TOGAF Certification. Why? It's the only credible option here getting newbies up-to-speed on the basics of EA/SA and it helps my staff build their CVs (which is important). I just wish there was a better option that was both less and more:
- more - on the basic mentality required of of an EA (e.g ability to abstract) and why all organizations take a different approach to architecture based on culture, maturity and business priorities.
I sometimes wonder if the authors of TOGAF are motivated to make it more understandable, or, as seems to be the case, keep it obscure and arcane. It certainly felt that way when I was exposed to IAF (Capgemini's Framework) and its zealots for the first time.
An aside here: in a recent chat with the Chief Architect in a well-known travel company, I said I needed the 80 page version of TOGAF - he laughed and responded that he'd implemented an 8 page version! BTW: all his architects are native-English speakers hired in from abroad.