Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) can be supported by a tool. A modelling tool should be supporting the ArchiMate language, which is the most popular standard language for Enterprise Architecture modelling.
Modelling is creative process, in which a specific group of people can share the same understanding concerning a specific development target. When modelling, it is possible to argue and explain WHY and HOW we end up to the state of WHAT there exists. Modelling produces architecture deliverables, that are visually constructed semantics over a specific development target. By specific symbols and relations between elements, placed on specific position on diagram layout, a modelled view can be more informative than anything else can be. As such, modelling is the highest level of visual reasoning. A model view is the most pragmatic simplification of a specific real world problem domain. That’s why it is important to make distinction between real modelling tools, drawing tools and other types of visualization tools (e.g. animated graph data presentations).
There are several modeling tools available for Enterprise Architecture (EA) modeling with ArchiMate-notation. Some of the tools are certified by Open Group (see ArchiMate® Tool Certification Register). Some of the tools already support new ArchiMate version 3. Listing (on Dec 12, 2016) here:
- Sparx Systems – Enterprise Architect
- Archi – Archi (famous open source tool, start free, then donate)
- QPR – QPR EnterpriseArchitect
- BIZZdesign – Architect
- Avolution – ABACUS
- Corso – Agile Enterprise Architecture (EA)
- Orbus Software – iServer
- Software AG – Aris
- Visual Paradigm – ArchiMetric
- Dragon1 Inc. – Dragon1
- SimplyArchiMate – Simply ArchiMate
- Signavio – Signavio
- MEGA International – MEGA
- AVSD – Equilibrium
- Modelio – Modeliosoft
- erwin – erwin Enterprise Architecture
- ardoq – Ardoq
- MetaEdit+ – MetaCase
NOTE ! In addition to this list above, there are some EA-tools that have completely different approach, e.g. Enterprise Evolver, Troux Architect, ADOIT or LeanIX. For example, the latter is not based on any modeling notation such as ArchiMate, but instead, it utilizes different kinds of table formats and visualizations.
Modeling tool vs. drawing tool
Note that there is significant difference between modeling tools and “drawing tools“. Modeling tools typically contain a model repository, from which all the modeled elements and their relations can be used in all the diagrams. There are also other important features in modeling tools such as reporting and analysis capabilities, as well as support to standard modeling notations such as UML, BPMN or ArchiMate.
Drawing tools such as MS Visio and MS Powerpoint, instead, can be used for drawing purposes only: creating pictures. A picture is just a “canvas”, in which all the drawing objects and lines between them are not based on any standard notation. The look&feel of the drawing pictures always reflect the author’s personal creativity: the style of the boxes and lines are invented by the author. Personal “creativeness” and style are neither good nor bad by default, it is just that standardized notations provide explicit semantics for the symbols.
Anyhow, both modeling tools and drawing tools have their own values whenever there is a need for visualization. There is a place for every kind of tool, as long as it fit for purpose. The ultimate meaning of visualization is to support communication. The simpler and easier the visualization is, the better.
Next wave of visualization
It is important to publish the diagrams (architecture deliverables) to be shared in the organization, among those stakeholders that are involved in the overall development and operations. Some of the tools provide capabilities to publish static HTML pages (as “snapshot) from tool (e.g. Archi and Sparx EA). Some of the tools provide distinct portal web application as an add-on functionality (e.g. BIZZdesign architect, QPR EA and Sparx EA). Those portals typically provide real-time visibility to architecture deliverables, and many advanced features (such as dashboards). Next wave of visualization can be related to graph databases and modern web-enabled visualization technologies…
Operational development of an enterprise can be supported by a tool that enables visualization and analysis of the enterprise data. Most of the modeling tools provides such capabilities, and most of the available EA-tools support the most widely used modeling notations such as ArchiMate, BPMN and UML. ArchiMate is the most important notation, as it covers all the aspects of holistic enterprise development. Professional enterprise development requires a tool for supporting systematic Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM). However, neither tools nor technologies (nor frameworks nor methods) are not valuable as such. E.g. a tool without expertise and meaningful, well adapted and practical usage is overkill – “a fool with a tool is still a fool”.