TOGAF: Architecture Principles

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Principles are general rules and guidelines, intended to be enduring and seldom amended, that inform and support the way in which an organization sets about fulfilling its mission.

In their turn, principles may be just one element in a structured set of ideas that collectively define and guide the organization, from values through to actions and results.

Depending on the organization, principles may be established within different domains and at different levels. Two key domains inform the development and utilization of architecture:

  • Enterprise principles provide a basis for decision-making throughout an enterprise, and inform how the organization sets about fulfilling its mission. Such principles are commonly found as a means of harmonizing decision-making across an organization. In particular, they are a key element in a successful architecture governance strategy (see 50. Architecture Governance). Within the broad domain of enterprise principles, it is common to have subsidiary principles within a business or organizational unit. Examples include IT, HR, domestic operations, or overseas operations. These principles provide a basis for decision-making within the subsidiary domain and will inform architecture development within the domain. Care must be taken to ensure that the principles used to inform architecture development align to the organizational context of the Architecture Capability.
  • Architecture principles are a set of principles that relate to architecture work. They reflect a level of consensus across the enterprise, and embody the spirit and thinking of existing enterprise principles. Architecture principles govern the architecture process, affecting the development, maintenance, and use of the enterprise architecture.

It is common to have sets of principles form a hierarchy, in that segment principles will be informed by, and elaborate on, the principles at the enterprise level. Architecture principles will be informed and constrained by enterprise principles.

Architecture principles may restate other enterprise guidance in terms and form that effectively guide architecture development.

Qualities of Architectural Principles

These are:

  • Understandable
    • the underlying tenets can be quickly grasped and understood by individuals throughout the organization. The intention of the principle is clear and unambiguous, so that violations, whether intentional or not, are minimized.
  • Robust
    • enable good quality decisions about architectures and plans to be made, and enforceable policies and standards to be created. Each principle should be sufficiently definitive and precise to support consistent decision-making in complex, potentially controversial situations.
  • Complete
    • every potentially important principle governing the management of information and technology for the organization is defined. The principles cover every situation perceived.
  • Consistent
    • strict adherence to one principle may require a loose interpretation of another principle. The set of principles must be expressed in a way that allows a balance of interpretations. Principles should not be contradictory to the point where adhering to one principle would violate the spirit of another. Every word in a principle statement should be carefully chosen to allow consistent yet flexible interpretation.
  • Stable
    • principles should be enduring, yet able to accommodate changes. An amendment process should be established for adding, removing, or altering principles after they are ratified initially.

Examples of Architectural Principles

  • Business Principles
    • Principle 1: Primary of Principles
    • Principle 2: Maximise Benefit to the Enteprise
    • Principle 3: Information Management is Everybody's Business
    • Principle 4: Business Continuity
    • Principle 5: Common Use Applications
    • Principle 6: Service Orientation
    • Principle 7: Compliance with Law
    • Principle 8: IT Responsibility
    • Principle 9: Protection of Intellectual Property
    • Principle 10: Self-Service
    • Principle 11: De-Skill (aka Shared Knowledge)
  • Data Principles
    • Principle 10: Data is an Asset
    • Principle 11: Data is Shared
    • Principle 12: Data is Assessible
    • Principle 13: Data Trustee
    • Principle 14: Common Vocabulary and Data Definitions
    • Principle 15: Data Security
  • Application Principles
    • Principle 16: Technology Independence
    • Principle 17: Ease-of-Use
  • Technology Principles
    • Principle 18: Requirements-Based Change
    • Principle 19: Responsive Change Management
    • Principle 20: Control Technical Diversity
    • Principle 21: Interoperability
  • Resourcing Principles
  • Security Principles

Related Architectural Deliverables

Related ADM Guidelines & Techniques


Here are some templates: TOGAF Templates