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PEAF Simplifies the Rocket Surgery of Enterprise Architecture

Call it pragmatic, call it streamlined, but don't call the Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture Framework (PEAF) TOGAF lite.


Like Web 2.0, the innovation involved in Enterprise Architecture (EA) is more about improving how we use what we already have than inventing something entirely new. While some very specific aspects of those improvements require highly specialized knowledge, most of them are common sense after all the mystery is stripped away. The trick to keeping something as potentially complex as Enterprise Architecture from becoming "rocket surgery" is to drop the confusing parts and explain the concept plainly so people can recognize the benefit. Because there are many different types of organizations with a variety of roles, the more tools we have to communicate the value and core processes of Enterprise Architecture the better. The Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture Framework (PEAF) is one useful tool that can enable you to do just that.

PEAF vs. TOGAF: How They Compare

Besides the obvious exception of highly-specialized vertical frameworks, one key to a good EA framework such as Enterprise Architect by Sparx Systems is adaptability through flexibility. TOGAF takes the approach of tackling many levels and details with the expectation that those that don't fit a given enterprise should be dropped, replaced or modified.

It is often easiest to understand something new by comparing it with something familiar. Comparing any EA framework to TOGAF makes the most sense in this discussion because:

  1. TOGAF is probably the most widely recognized EA framework.
  2. I am more familiar with TOGAF than other frameworks.

There often is a perceived preference when one product is compared with another, but that is not the intention in this comparison. The purpose of comparing PEAF with TOGAF is to simplify the description of PEAF rather than to imply a superiority of one over the other.

PEAF as a Rocket Scalpel

The introduction to each of the PEAF process documents states that PEAF achieves its framework goals by "cutting EA to the bone." A frequent (and easy) comparison to illustrate this claim is with TOGAF 9. TOGAF has seven parts, the core part being the Architecture Development Method (ADM), which contains 8-10 phases (depending on how you do or do not include the Preliminary and Requirements Management aspects). PEAF, on the other hand, consists of three processes and four "products." PEAF aims for the sweet spot of being not so lightweight as to be incomplete and not so large as to be difficult or intimidating.

EAF achieves part of its streamlining by using plain, direct language. For example, the Agile Manifesto (not an overly wordy document itself) includes "Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale." The PEAF Foundation Vision product covers the principle of agility very accurately with only four words: "Change faster with less."

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