The New EA Paradigm (4) The Assemble-to-Order Pattern

John A.  Zachman
John A. Zachman Chief Executive Officer, Zachman International Read Author Bio || Read All Articles by John A. Zachman

Last time I developed the Strategy Pattern "Provide-from-Stock" for you.  This month I will wrap up this series with the "Assemble-to-Order" Pattern. 

Clearly, you have to change the strategy … to an Assemble-to-Order strategy … Mass-Customization, "custom products, mass-produced in quantities of one for immediate delivery."  But this then is a completely different kind of business.  You have to have PARTS in inventory … NOT finished goods … and those parts have to be engineered such that they can be assembled into more than one product. 

How do you engineer parts that can be assembled into more than one thing?  You have to know the total set of things you have to assemble at any given point in time.  You do the engineering Enterprise-wide. 

After you engineer the parts to assemble the Enterprise set of products, you can pre-fabricate the parts and have them in inventory before you get the order.  Then when you get the order, the only time it takes to produce the custom product is the time it takes to map the specifications of the product in the order to the inventory of parts, pick the parts, and assemble the custom product to order.

So, the pattern is...

"Make-to-Order" ---> "Provide-from Stock" ---> "Assemble-to-Order"

Having engineered parts that can be assembled into the Enterprise set of products at any given point in time provides substantial flexibility to support changes in the Enterprise Product set.  However, when products are demanded that are beyond the capability supported by the current inventory of parts, it is a matter of a "delta" to parts … not a major overhaul of the manufacturing process and the product line.

I am sure you have already figured out the Enterprise Engineering and Manufacturing equivalent for the assemble-to-order strategy.  If you engineer the Enterprise, Enterprise-wide, creating the set of Primitive models as specified in the Zachman Framework and you populate a database (Repository) with the inventory of Primitive Components, you could map the characteristics of the new Enterprise to the Primitive Components, pick the Primitive Components, and assemble them (bind them at execute time) into a Composite implementation, dynamically, custom to the specification of the new Enterprise as required.  "Custom Enterprises, mass-produced in quantities of one for immediate delivery."

This is a little over-simplification, but I think you get the idea.  You don't have to populate all of the Cells of the Framework — Enterprise-wide, integrated horizontally and vertically at excruciating level of detail — before you produce any implementations.  That is a common MIS-conception!  You can populate the Framework primitives iteratively and incrementally, implementation by implementation, using the governance system to maintain the continuity and integration over time.  You do have to have a Repository metamodel that maintains a separation of the independent variables and allows you to dynamically bind Primitive Components into Composite implementations. I have written another book on Models and Metamodels that elaborates this issue.

This column can also be viewed on John's blog — presented here, with permission.

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Standard citation for this article:

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John A. Zachman , "The New EA Paradigm (4) The Assemble-to-Order Pattern" Business Rules Journal Vol. 17, No. 7, (Jul. 2016)

About our Contributor:

John  A. Zachman
John A. Zachman Chief Executive Officer, Zachman International

John A. Zachman is the originator of the "Framework for Enterprise Architecture" (The Zachman Framework™) which has received broad acceptance around the world as an integrative framework, an ontology for descriptive representations for Enterprises.

Mr. Zachman is not only known for this work on Enterprise Architecture, but is also known for his early contributions to IBM's Information Strategy methodology (Business Systems Planning) as well as to their Executive team planning techniques (Intensive Planning). He served IBM for 26 years, retiring in 1990 to devote his life to the science of Enterprise Architecture.

Mr. Zachman is the Founder and Chairman of his own education and consulting business, Zachman International®. He is also Founder of the Zachman Institute™, a nonprofit organization devoted to leveraging Zachman International's vast network of professionals and resources to offer services to small businesses and nonprofit organizations as they prepare for and experience growth.

Mr. Zachman serves on the Executive Council for Information Management and Technology (ECIMT) of the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) and on the Advisory Board of the Data Administration Management Association International (DAMAI) from whom he was awarded the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award. He was awarded the 2009 Enterprise Architecture Professional Lifetime Achievement Award from the Center for Advancement of the Enterprise Architecture Profession as well as the 2004 Oakland University, Applied Technology in Business (ATIB), Award for IS Excellence and Innovation.

Mr. Zachman has been focusing on Enterprise Architecture since 1970 and has written extensively on the subject. He has facilitated innumerable executive team planning sessions. He travels nationally and internationally, teaching and consulting, and is a popular conference speaker, known for his motivating messages on Enterprise Architecture issues. He has spoken to many thousands of enterprise managers and information professionals on every continent.

In addition to his professional activities, Mr. Zachman serves on the Elder Council of the Church on the Way (First Foursquare Church of Van Nuys, California), the Board of Directors of Living Way Ministries, a radio and television ministry of the Church on the Way, the President's Cabinet of The King's University, the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Citywide Children's Christian Choir, the Board of Directors of Heavenworks, an international ministry to the French speaking world and on the Board of Directors of Native Hope International, a Los Angeles based ministry to the Native American people.

Prior to joining IBM, Mr. Zachman served as a line officer in the United States Navy and is a retired Commander in the U. S. Naval Reserve. He chaired a panel on "Planning, Development and Maintenance Tools and Methods Integration" for the U. S. National Institute of Standards and Technology. He holds a degree in Chemistry from Northwestern University, has taught at Tufts University, has served on the Board of Councilors for the School of Library and Information Management at the University of Southern California, as a Special Advisor to the School of Library and Information Management at Emporia State University, on the Advisory Council to the School of Library and Information Management at Dominican University and on the Advisory Board for the Data Resource Management Program at the University of Washington. He has been a Fellow for the College of Business Administration of the University of North Texas and currently is listed in Cambridge Who's Who.

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