Why I Like the Zachman Framework Architecture

Ronald G.  Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal , and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC) Read Author Bio       || Read All Articles by Ronald G. Ross

The true measure of an idea’s elegance lies in its simplicity.  By this test, the Zachman Framework Architecture is a masterpiece.  Curiously, each proponent seems to conceive his own particular set of reasons for liking it.  Not to detract from others, here are mine.  They read like a litany for IRM.

  • Because architecture is important.  Significant investment in constructing anything of substantial complexity or duration is made most wisely following a prior blueprint.  We know this to be true for skyscrapers, microchips, space shuttles, and home remodeling; the Framework supports it for information systems.

  • Because perspective is important.  “Perspective” is a term sometimes used for a row in the Framework.  Clearly, the perspective relevant to the user is not the same as the perspective relevant to the designer, which is not the same as the perspective relevant to the builder, etc.  This is a simple insight, but sterling nonetheless.

  • Because communication is important.  The columns of the Framework mandate the questions:  what, how, where, who, when, and why.  This guidance is both clear and complete.  Perspectives (as above), plus what questions to ask, equals matrix for communication.

  • Because data is important.  Putting the question “what” (data) on an equal footing with “how” (process) runs counter to those basic habits of the industry that IRM professionals constantly battle.  The Framework stands out for that simple, yet courageous act.

  • Because integration is important.  The essence of integration is unifying facts.  This is as true for systems of methodologies (meta-systems) as it is for systems of regular business information.  Think of the Framework as a comprehensive guide to unification (integration) of meta-facts.  This is subtle -- but elegance usually is.

  • Because innovation is important.  The Framework is not complete, especially the three new columns.  But it permits us to grasp where completeness lies, and how to judge when we’ve achieved it.  For me, this methodological bootstrapping is a final stroke of brilliance.

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Standard citation for this article:


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Ronald G. Ross , "Why I Like the Zachman Framework Architecture" (Jul./Aug. 1991)
URL: http://www.brcommunity.com/a1991/a217b.html

About our Contributor:


Ronald  G. Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal , and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC)

Ronald G. Ross is Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rule Solutions, LLC, where he actively develops and applies the IPSpeak methodology including RuleSpeak®, DecisionSpeak and TableSpeak.

Ron is recognized internationally as the "father of business rules." He is the author of ten professional books including the groundbreaking first book on business rules The Business Rule Book in 1994. His newest are:


Ron serves as Executive Editor of BRCommunity.com and its flagship publication, Business Rules Journal. He is a sought-after speaker at conferences world-wide. More than 50,000 people have heard him speak; many more have attended his seminars and read his books.

Ron has served as Chair of the annual International Business Rules & Decisions Forum conference since 1997., now part of the Building Business Capability (BBC) conference where he serves as Co-Chair. He was a charter member of the Business Rules Group (BRG) in the 1980s, and an editor of its Business Motivation Model (BMM) standard and the Business Rules Manifesto. He is active in OMG standards development, with core involvement in SBVR.

Ron holds a BA from Rice University and an MS in information science from Illinois Institute of Technology. Find Ron's blog on http://www.brsolutions.com/category/blog/. For more information about Ron visit www.RonRoss.info. Tweets: @Ronald_G_Ross

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