Monday, October 31, 2011

“Being Measurable” as an Architecture Principle

Performance-driven and being measurable are becoming current trend for business planning and operations. We have seen more enterprises aiming at performance-based, goal-driven and result-oriented continuous organization improvement. Enterprise Architecture is an integral effort in this direction. Therefore, being measurable is naturally considered as an architecture principle. It requires architects to think about the possible performance measures regarding to the architecture components they are working on.


The popularity of enterprise architecture started from Federal Government via legislation mandate, and then grows into private sectors.  The crucial historical event in Federal Enterprise Architecture [1] was the passing of the Information Technology Management Reform Act (now called the Clinger-Cohen Act) [3] in 1996. This act mandated architecture best practices for government agencies. It pointed the Chief Information Officers (CIO) in federal departments and agencies being responsible. A CIO Council was established to encourage collaboration across agencies.

The President's Management Agenda [5] (PMA, FY 2002) recognizes the significance of information management as a core mission of government, and thus gave an impetus to the development of the Federal Enterprise Architecture.

The FEA is developed in the form of Reference Models to provide guidance for cross-agency EA development, to identify and eliminate duplicated investments and to establish opportunities for collaboration in federal agencies.

In the initial design of the Federal Enterprise Architecture reference models, the Business Reference Model was placed at the top based on the assumption that business goals must drive the architecture [8]:
After realized that different agencies may have similar business goals though with different ways in achieving them, in order to maximize mission effectiveness and reduce duplication, architecture should seek to standardize and optimize business efforts and to maximize mission performance. So the arrangement of reference models was changed to place the Performance Reference Model [1] on top as follows:
The new arrangement recognizes that the Performance Reference Model [2] is the overall driver for all the other reference models, including the Business Reference Model. The "business driver" now is not the individual business functions within the agencies, but rather a unified, common approach to mission performance in all agencies.
Now, federal government is moving toward the convergence of enterprise architecture, performance and budgeting. In summarize:
  • The GPRA [7] provided the legislative mandate that required agencies to integrate strategic plans and performance.
  • The President's Management Agenda [5], and the supportive efforts of OMB, require agencies to provide business cases, measures of program performance, and results of performance in order to justify their budgets.
  • The Clinger-Cohen Act [3] requires agencies to establish and maintain enterprise architecture standards, and efforts are underway to build standards that cut across the agencies. Old "stovepipes" are being broken down surprisingly fast, because of the high priority being placed on this requirement by OMB and the White House. 
Performance Model as a Component in Enterprise Architecture

From above case of Federal EA, we can see the value of having Performance Model as an element in Enterprise Architecture, which has begun to be adopted by some private enterprises and by foreign governments as well. It enables the end-to-end performance planning and tracking from strategic plan to implementation and execution, so to make business being goal-oriented and performance-driven.

Architecture with Performance Measurement Identification

During the development of the Enterprise Architecture components, the architects should think about the possible performance measures associated with the architecture components they are architecting, so to provide input to the development of the Enterprise Performance Measurement Matrix, which can also be served as part of the measurement guidance for the implementation of an Enterprise Performance Management System.


[1] Federal Enterprise Architecture
[3] Clinger-Cohen Act - Summary [1996]
[4] GAO Enterprise Architecture evaluation methodology -
[5] President's Management Agenda -
[6] Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) -
[7] Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)
[8] The Convergence of Strategy, Performance and Enterprise Architecture in the US Federal Government, Balanced Scorecard Institute

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