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.

# # #

Standard citation for this article:

citations icon
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 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 of 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).

Mr. Zachman retired from IBM in 1990, having served them for 26 years. He is Chief Executive Officer of his own education and consulting business, Zachman International® and Owner and Executive Director of the Federated Enterprise Architecture Certification Institute in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Zachman has been focusing on Enterprise Architecture since 1970 and has written extensively on the subject. He has directed 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.

Read All Articles by John A. Zachman
Subscribe to the eBRJ Newsletter
7 Common Myths (Plus 1) About the Zachman Architecture Framework
Enterprise Architecture Defined: Architecture Abstractions
Enterprise Architecture Defined: (2) Complexity and Change
Enterprise Architecture Defined: (1) What is Architecture?
The Business Agility Manifesto — The Authors Speak Out Q&A with Roger T. Burlton, Ronald G. Ross, & John A. Zachman
In The Spotlight
 Ronald G. Ross
 John A. Zachman
The Issue Is THE ENTERPRISE By John A. Zachman Jan. 2017 | Vol. 18, Iss. 1

Online Interactive Training Series

In response to a great many requests, Business Rule Solutions now offers at-a-distance learning options. No travel, no backlogs, no hassles. Same great instructors, but with schedules, content and pricing designed to meet the special needs of busy professionals.