Can Enterprise Architecture be demystified

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Can Enterprise Architecture by demystified?

The following GovTech article attempts to say yes. It may be an article you find somewhat interesting. Or, if you have been burned by Enterprise Architecture in the past like many, you might find it trite. Or, you might be able to riff on it. Here’s what are some 101 points one can get out of it:

  • EA lacks support because people don’t understand what it is
  • Using the “building a home from a blueprint” analogy can help (to a degree)
  • Explaining EA terminology (framework, model, blueprint) can help
  • EA is about the business (or mission), not IT; It’s about getting IT to align with the business (or mission)
  • For EA, the federal government is leading (ahead of states and other jurisdictions)

That said, in a brainstorm, virtual whiteboard session, and here are some of our own riffing:

  1. How far can you go with the “building a home from a blueprint” analogy before it breaks down? 
    1. For example, how detailed does a blueprint have to be before you can start building? 
    2. Does the blueprint have to have the landscaping plan? 
    3. Or, does it just have to have the core, structural details? 
  2. When you’re building a house according to blueprint, how are changes handled mid-construction?
    1. If the building owner walks through the roughly-framed house and notices the natural lighting patterns and wants to add a set of windows and move a closet, the blueprint enables you to manage the change, understand the impacts, account for the impacts. What’s the EA analogy, if any?
  3. How agile and iterative can EA be? 
    1. How quickly can you get from EA to implementation to demonstrating results? 
    2. This gets to another obstacle to organizations embracing EA: it takes too long to architect the entire enterprise before the enterprise begins to experience the benefits. 
    3. Sometimes the organization realizes zero benefits because there’s no transition to implementation phase. 
    4. In any case, how exhaustive/comprehensive does the EA need to be before the organization can reasonably move out on some implementation? 
  4. As we’ve seen, starting some transformation in parallel to completing the full EA blueprint and roadmap can begin to improve the organization and move it in the right direction. 
    1. What are the boundaries, conditions for moving into incremental change? 
    2. And what are the risks of moving in the wrong direction before completing an exhaustive EA? 
    3. For example, if early analysis reveals that an organization is behaving like a products company but that it’s mission, purpose and objectives mean that it’s really a services organization, can you start implementing change to address that? 
    4. Is it still appropriate to architect just a “segment” at a time and rollout implementation then move onto the next segment?
  5. Can can organization views of EA go beyond aligning IT with the business/mission? 
    1. For example, are some EA re-alignments purely process-based?

Our comments of course were discussed in how our approach to core architecture concepts apply, so the intent of the blog was not as greenfield as it may seem, but capture some of how the now near 20 year somewhat mainstream practice may need to evolve further to adjust to agility that came about post-internet, utility commodity models (aka cloud), and moving data from ERP backoffice systems to the frontline of mission, scientific, and direct consumer service.

FSAM Replacement – Collaborative Planning Methodology (CPM)

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edited by
Matt Tricomi

Our colleagues over at Phase One Consulting Group have sponsored the creation of The Planning Institute . The Planning Institute was formed to help foster the standards and methods by which collaborative planning is performed. We stumbled upon this update in following Phase One`s blog on Plan for the Future .

From the The Planning Institute methodology overview and the overall web site, the new Collaborative Planning Methodology (CPM) is the replacement for the 2008 FSAM method which is primarily sourced from the 2006 MBT method. You can see how those methods were originally developed at Developing a Transformation Approach.

The Planning Institute concept has been in the works since 2006 when MBT originally got legs and the idea was to move to an open-source methodology and get tied into more and more methods, approaches, frameworks, maturity models, etc. For instance, MBT work products were mapped to supported variuos architecture frameworks (FEAF, DODAF, TOGAF, C4ISR) and FSAM mapped into various other IT Portfolio planning (CPIC, A&A, Privacy). MBT also was build with the premise of linking segment architecture to the IT Investment Maturity Framework. It will be interesting to see where CPM gets mapped into to bring in larger communities – PMP? Smart Lean Government?

This did get slightly sidetracked in 2007, when MBT was lifted to be the OMB FSAM, and for good reason, as that did help establish a Federal Government direction towards common analysis, architecture, and planning methods. It is nice to see the progression back towards open-source methods.

As the Phaseone blog notes:

No one in our industry wants to be on the front page of the Washington Post! There are many approaches to planning … many that result in the dreaded analysis paralysis.  When we do take the time to plan, why does it sometimes not result in better performance?  I believe the critical element to planning is collaboration.  Ultimately, we have to realize that in most mission and business areas, there are a lot of people who have a lot of opinions.  There is never a single individual who is always right, always wrong, or all knowledgeable about any given topic.  Why do people come from so many different perspectives?  Well, all of these people have different experiences, different responsibilities, and different levels of creativity and ambition.  The bottom line:  working hard to get the best out of these individuals is key to gaining consensus, and ultimately delivering a better plan and a better product.

Why do we need an update aside from its been 7-8 years?

FSAM did stumble to be unwieldy – presented too waterfall. Only a few groups like CDC and USGS (latter with Xentity) developed an Agile or adapted version of FSAM to do the products needed and required at the right time. 

MBT had a similar curse. It could take 6-9 months to get to a 3-5 year plan, which is hard to fathom now. Now the DOI Geospatial Modernization Blueprint still is being implemented and still is relevant as the tact there was more like the CPM intent – the business and data investment issues are as relevant today as when the Geospatial blueprint started on MBT 1.0.

In Response to that, Xentity did introduce with  Government sponsors the concept of FSAM and MBT as Transformation Lab Services to get more agile shorter, more tactical wins in change , but it was bad timing to get off the ground

Checking out the new Collaborative Planning Methodology (CPM)

The CPM is taken the Geospatial Blueprint tact of more on the longer-term planning issue level, and less on the technical architecture. The CPM is an update less do to technology, disruptions, or even agile project methods, but more a response to the gridlock of technology portfolio change.

It is a “full planning and implementation lifecycle”, where as FSAM stopped at planning and design, and was more about architecture, and MBT attempted at the implementation portion, but in all honesty, its strength was on the collaborative blueprint development by enterprise service or mission area.

CPM is not bent on any technology pattern such as cloud, nor even IT. Nor does it suggest as MBT and FSAM to be focused on specific segments. It really leans more towards a planning, and less about architecture. That does hint to the fact that the disruptions are moving so fast, discussing actual architecture recommendations are becoming more and more difficult to stay current.

Collaborative Planning Methodology Overview

What has carried on in CPM from FSAM and MBT?

What is very cool to see is the DOI, PhaseOne, and Xentity teams original concepts of governance gates between major decision points/steps, step at-a-glance view, work product based methods. This pattern still is critical to assure a solid foundation is laid. CPM is still broken down the same way as MBT and FSAM even with the complexity burden pie chart. 

Looking back when we originally introduces this 1-page concept to a method during the methodology creation production workshops in DC and Denver, its amazing to see it stand as a key information reduction graphic even since MBT 1.0. Overall, it also gives a sense of comparing the maturing style of the planning as disruptions move SO MUCH faster in just ten years.

CPM Step 3 (2014)

FSAM Step 3 (2008)

MBT Step 3 (2005-2007)

Step Title: Define and Plan

Step Title: Define Business and Information Requirements

Step Title: Analyze the Business and Define the Target Business Environment

Amazing similarities, but you can see the appropriate gravitational move less from system architecting to portfolio designing to roadmapping. 

To save some clicks, here are some excerpts from the Planning Institute site


Planning is done to effect change in support of an organization’s Strategic Plan, and the many types of planners (e.g. architects, organization and program managers, strategic planners, capital planners, and other planners) must work together to develop an integrated, actionable plan to implement that change.  Planning should be used to determine the exact changes that are needed to implement an organization’s Strategic Plan, enable consistent decision-making, and provide measurable benefits to the organization.  In short, an organization’s Strategic Plan should be executed by well-rounded planning that results in purposeful projects with measurable benefits.

In today’s environment, which demands more efficient government through the reuse of solutions and services, organizations need actionable, consistent, and rigorous plans to implement Strategic Plans and solve priority needs.  These integrated plans should support efforts to leverage other Federal, state, local, tribal, and international experiences and results as a means of reusing rather than inventing from scratch.  Plans should be consistent and rigorous descriptions of the structure of the organization or enterprise, how IT resources will be efficiently used, and how the use of assets such as IT will ultimately achieve stated strategies and needs.

The role of planners is to help facilitate and support a common understanding of needs based on the organization’s Strategic Plan, help formulate recommendations to meet those needs, and facilitate the development of a plan of action that is grounded in an integrated view of not just technology planning, but the full spectrum of planning disciplines to include, but not limited to, mission/business, IT resources, capital, security, infrastructure, human capital, performance, and records planning. 

Planners provide facilitation and integration to enable this collaborative planning discipline, and work with specialists and subject matter experts from these planning groups in order to formulate a plan of action that not only meets needs but is also implementable within financial, political, and organizational constraints.  In addition, planners have an important role to play in the investment, implementation, and performance measurement activities and decisions that result from this integrated planning process

The Collaborative Planning Methodology, shown in Figure 1, is a simple, repeatable process that consists of integrated, multi-disciplinary analysis that results in recommendations formed in collaboration with sponsors, stakeholders, planners, and implementers.  This methodology includes the master steps and detailed guidance for planners to use throughout the planning process.  Architecture is but one planning discipline included in this methodology.  Over time the methods and approaches of other planning disciplines will continue to be interwoven into this common methodology to provide a single, collaborative approach for organizations to use. 

The Collaborative Planning Methodology is the next generation replacement for the Federal Segment Architecture Methodology (FSAM).  As the replacement for the FSAM, the Collaborative Planning Methodology has been designed to be more flexible, more widely applicable, and more inclusive of the larger set of planning disciplines.

The Collaborative Planning Methodology is intended as a full planning and implementation lifecycle for use at all levels of scope defined in the Common Approach to Federal Enterprise Architecture: International, National, Federal, Sector, Agency, Segment, System, and Application. 

Collaborative Planning Methodology Overview

Collaborative Planning Methodology Overview

The Collaborative Planning Methodology consists of two phases: (1) Organize and Plan and (2)Implement and Measure.  Although the phases are shown as sequential, in fact there are frequent and important iterations within and between the phases.  In the first phase, planners serve a key role facilitating the collaboration between sponsors and various stakeholders to clearly identify and prioritize needs, research other organizations facing similar needs, and formulate the plans to address the stated needs.  In the second phase, planners shift into a participatory role, supporting other key personnel working to implement and monitor change related activities.  As part of the second phase of the methodology, planners specifically support investment, procurement, implementation, and performance measurement actions and decisions. 

The Collaborative Planning Methodology is stakeholder-centered with a focus on understanding and validating needs from sponsor and stakeholder perspectives, planning for those needs, and ensuring that what is planned ultimately results in the intended outcomes (Step 1).  Additionally, this methodology is structured to embrace the principles of leverage and reuse by assisting planners in determining whether there are other organizations that have previously addressed similar needs, and whether their business model, experiences, and work products can be leveraged to expedite improvement (Step 2). 

Ultimately, the Collaborative Planning Methodology helps planners work with sponsors and stakeholders to clearly articulate a roadmap that defines needs, what will be done to address those needs, when actions will be taken, how much it will cost, what benefits will be achieved, when those benefits will be achieved, and how those benefits will be measured (Step 3).  The methodology also helps planners support sponsors and stakeholders as they make decisions regarding which courses of action are appropriate for the mission, including specific investment and implementation decisions (Step 4).  Finally and perhaps most importantly, the methodology provides planners with guidance in their support of measuring the actual performance changes that have resulted from the recommendations, and in turn, using these results in future planning activities (Step 5). 

For more information please see the other CPM pages as well as the Downloads Page where detailed guidance documents are available.

More about the Planning Institute notes:



We are a collection of government, industry, and non-profit organizations and individuals who are interested in better ways to conduct planning.  We advocate open source methodologies that can be used around the globe to solve major IT and non-IT challenges..




Our goal is to see the wide-spread use of open source methodologies for planning so that we can better (1) collaborate, (2) innovate, (3) and build a better future.  The easier it is for us to work together, using a common vocabulary and process, the easier it will be to build a better future.




Get involved!  Contact us via Twitter or through our contact form on this site.  We would love to work with you, hear your case studies, feature your best practices, or just hear some words of encouragement!

GAO 4th annual report cites Enterprise Architecture, Geospatial, and Coordinating Research among ways to help reduce duplication – fragmentation – overlap

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GAO relased its 2014 Annual Report identified 11 new areas of fragmentation, overlap, and duplication in federal programs and activities. GAO also identified 15 new opportunities for cost savings and revenue enhancement. Related work and GAO’s Action Tracker—a tool that tracks progress on GAO’s specific suggestions for improvement.

The social services clearly are under the highest scrutiny as notes:

In the previous three reports, the GAO found that Congress spent:

GAO summarizes their highlights as:

In its 2014 report, GAO presents 64 actions that the executive branch or Congress could take to improve efficiency and effectiveness across 26 areas that span a broad range of government missions and functions.
  • GAO suggests 19 actions to address evidence of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication in 11 new areas across the government missions of defense, health, income security, information technology, and international affairs.
  • GAO also presents 45 opportunities for executive branch agencies or Congress to take actions to reduce the cost of government operations or enhance revenue collections for the Treasury across 15 areas of government.

One blog took a fairly direct, yet appropriate view to this – “Why Have One Government Program When 10 Can Do the Same Thing? GAO Report Reveals Duplicated Efforts, Wasted Money.

Because, as the GAO points out, “the federal government faces an unsustainable fiscal path,” and getting out of its own way is one of the easier means of cutting costs.

They do point out a sort of ray of hope in that :

After taking a grand tour of federal government multiplicity, the GAO recommends 45 actions for cutting costs. Don’t get your hopes too high, though. Of the 380 reforms previously recommended, only 124 have been fully addressed.

I say ray of hope as about 1/3 improvement is actually, possibly sadly, not bad for the largest organization in the world. Beyond 1/3, who can or will use this? This is a fantastic guiding light, but for who? Clearly it is for congress, executive branch politicals, and Program Directors, but will they be interested to act? Does it fit with their agendas and objectives? Who has influence to more than suggest it should be part of such?


Topics we’ll be tracking

But more in our neck of the woods, where we look to help, and how we analyzed, here are some mission take-ways:

  • Renewable Energy programs are VERY fragmented, though not uncommon for organization all trying to get a service or solution piece of a new up and coming and relevant disruption. Specifically, they cite more coordination between USDA and DOE

Area 4: Renewable Energy Initiatives: Federal support for wind and solar energy,
biofuels, and other renewable energy sources, which has been estimated at several
billion dollars per year, is fragmented because 23 agencies implemented hundreds of
renewable energy initiatives in fiscal year 2010—the latest year for which GAO
developed these original data. Further, the DOE and USDA could take additional
actions—to the extent possible within their statutory authority—to help ensure effective
use of financial support from several wind initiatives, which GAO found provided
duplicative support that may not have been needed in all cases for projects to be built

  • In the 2011 reports under General Government, Enterprise Architecture and Data Center Consolidation were high on the list (Page 24):

Area 14: Enterprise architectures: key mechanisms for identifying potential overlap
and duplication. Well-defined and implemented enterprise architectures in federal agencies can lead to consolidation and reuse of shared services and elimination of antiquated and redundant mission operations, which can result in significant cost savings. For example, the Department of the Interior demonstrated that it had used enterprise architecture to modernize agency information technology operations and avoid costs through enterprise software license agreements and hardware procurement consolidation, resulting in financial savings of at least $80 million. In addition, Health and Human Services will achieve savings and cost avoidance of over $150 million between fiscal years 2011 to 2015 by leveraging its enterprise architecture to improve its telecommunications infrastructure.

Area 15: Consolidating federal data centers provides opportunity to improve
government efficiency. Consolidating federal data centers provides an opportunity to improve government efficiency and achieve cost savings of up to $3 billion over 10 years.

For what its worth, for some horn tooting, Xentity staff were providing support to the Interior Enterprise Architecture during the 2003-2005 period where DOI EA focused on the Enterprise license consolidation across all its bureaus to department-wide.

In 2012, GAO also added:

Area 19: Information Technology Investment Management: The Office of Management and Budget and the Departments Defense and Energy need to address potentially duplicative information technology investments to avoid investing in unnecessary systems.

For Geospatial Investment, it cites (Page 196) our general mantra on Geospatial Integrated Services and Capabilities :

Area 11: Geospatial Investments: Better coordination among federal agencies that collect, maintain, and use geospatial information could help reduce duplication of geospatial investments and provide the opportunity for potential savings of millions of dollar

This repeats its report concepts – mind you, at a higher level – on the GAO releases report on FGDC Role and Geospatial Information

Also, there was a trend to improve simplify Federal Contracting 

Finally, in talking about Research, they noted

Area 10: Dissemination of Technical Research Reports: Congress should consider whether the fee-based model under which the National Technical Information Service currently operates for disseminating technical information is still viable or appropriate, given that many of the reports overlap with similar information available from the issuing organizations or other sources for free.

There is so much more in this report, the question is, will the powers that be embrace these ideas as part of their program or political agendas and objectives?


State of Colorado IT highlighted in GovExec as example of Smart Lean Government

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edited by
Matt Tricomi

Xentity staff has been supporting Methodology Development with ACT-IAC on Smart Lean Government – . A recent GovExec article has come out highlighting Smart Lean Government as well as the State of Colorado. 


In a data-driven world, agencies can’t afford to go it along any more. When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, the response and recovery were considered a disaster for government. There was no clear chain of command.

Our efforts at Smart Lean Government is in trying to introduce cross-government management and design of services across communities, be life event-based, and find ways to integrate services in design and implementation.

You can see the print magazine version in PDF here or the web version.

Here specifically is the part on the State of Colorado Office of Information Technology point of view

Treating Citizens Like Customers in Colorado

As a private sector technology executive, Kristin Russell [note: recently outgoing CIO] watched companies become adept at tracking customers from one division to the next and learning everything they could about them along the way. 

When a warranty expired, a product was recalled or a superior product came out, they knew just who to contact. And they knew the best way to contact them. 

When Russell became Colorado’s chief information officer, she saw something different. State agencies weren’t competing with anyone, so they had little incentive to offer great customer service. 

This wasn’t just bad for citizens. It was costly for government too. One agency spent $4 million annually on postage. If citizens could opt for email-only contacts statewide, that figure could be reduced significantly, Russell says. 

Russell and Colorado’s Chief Technology Officer Sherri Hammons started planning for a governmentwide customer relations management system that could recognize citizens from one agency to the next, save their addresses and personal information, and alert them to services they might qualify for. 

An early version, called PEAK, offers a unified portal for medical, welfare and child support services and links to the state’s new online health insurance marketplace. Russell hopes to expand the PEAK concept across Colorado’s 22 agencies so citizens can interact with government once and be done. 


Xentity is excited to be supported both the SLG initiative and a service provider for the OIT in support of moving to IT in the state to a customer oriented set of services as part of the Xentity’s recent award of IT IDIQ from State of Colorado.