Bernd IhnenFlorian Bauer

Solve Quality Challenges for Federated Architecture Modeling at Schaeffler

Schaeffler is a globally acting component supplier for the mechanical engineering and automotive industry employing around 89,000 people. Facing the challenges and opportunities of digitization and transition from combustion engines to fuel-cell and electric vehicles, the business processes and underpinning application landscape and technology use are in an ongoing transition; generating a strong need for Enterprise Architecture. In this blog we outline the nature of EA at Schaeffler and tool support by BiZZdesign’s solution, focusing on architecture modeling quality.

EA at Schaeffler

The nature of the EA practice at Schaeffler is federated, meaning work is divided into different EA layers (business, applications, technology), divisions (automotive, industry, aftermarket), regions and also according to the level of detail. This enables a large audience to participate and contribute their knowledge, connecting different areas of EA into one holistic model and allowing drill-down to particular aspects of architectures. The federated approach is preferred as a feasible way to record the as-is landscape via manual either work or extraction from other data sources and collaboratively work on the to-be landscapes and roadmaps. The central EA team of around 20 experts could hardly tackle the complexity, regional diversity and constant change in the EA realm.

Utilizing common frameworks like TOGAF, modeling languages like ArchiMate, BPMN and ERD, and deriving Schaeffler-specific types of architecture viewpoints enables quick onboarding into the EA community as well as interlinking the work products of specific parts of the overall EA model. A clear guideline where views and building blocks are located, how new content is introduced, peer reviewed and published leads to a common accepted way of working. This nudges every single architect to keep the general goal of EA in mind: design the roadmaps towards the future architecture and provide the means to design the transformation from the baseline architecture state. An aligned modeling approach is needed to connect the federated architecture designs. To communicate the modeling approach, a content model view describes the conventions for Schaeffler – see illustrative example below.

Modeling & Visualizing EA – Quality Requirements

The ambition to model according to a common content model view in order to enable a consistent architecture development language cannot be achieved by using Office tools or generic drawing software. The EA team need software that meets the EA purpose in general, but also their specific federal approach. What’s more, the software also has to answer the quality requirements of decision makers and top level stakeholders if these are to trust the EA deliverables they are presented with. The challenges of collaborative modeling range from simple to complex questions about the model content, e.g.

  • “Is the view/diagram up to date?”
  • “Who changed the application documentation last?”
  • “Is our technology portfolio thoroughly linked to applications and via them to business processes and capabilities?”
  • “Is the content model view respected in every EA domain, region and division?”

The underlying requirements for Schaeffler’s repository are:

  • All architects and contributors work in one repository
  • Quality checks are applied by re-using the already modeled content model view
  • The results of quality checks are consumer-oriented, meaning a designer gets feedback on the specific view whereas a lead architect gets insights on the quality of parts or even the whole model
  • Quality checks are easy to use and embed in the general EA release process

Quality Checks on Top of Best Practice Modeling

BiZZdesign’s solution was chosen as an EA tool, because it supports EA best practice standards and the advancement of a common vision for the company’s evolution. It provides various capabilities to solve the challenges above. For instance, to help consumers of architecture views, HoriZZon tells users when a diagram was last modified right next to the title.

Diagrams are based on reusable elements and live inside the central repository, which enables a collaborative work on the same content. A claim mechanism prevents architects and analysts from changing the same object or diagram, and informs the user why he cannot (temporarily) modify an object.

Quality checks are used to give clear, direct feedback to the designer in a heat map or table. To raise the confidence of decision-makers in the repository content, dashboards show the overall modeling quality of all models. All checks are based on the defined content model view that describes how the ArchiMate standard is used at Schaeffler (see example content model view below).

The checks are used to verify the quality on demand and during the EA release process. This process describes steps before uploading new architecture information to the entire repository. This way of working enables the EA release manager at Schaeffler to ensure model quality. A report per model summarizes the quality checks. After passing this gateway the updated EA content is consumable by the EA community in HoriZZon.

Summary

In this blog we have described that the need for Schaeffler to transform business processes and IT triggers a demand for analyzing and visualizing digitization change end-to-end. The enterprise architecture practice provides the ability to create a valuable holistic view for different stakeholders (C-level decision makers, portfolio managers, business analysts, IT architects). ArchiMate offers a standard visualization for the enterprise structures and HoriZZon offers quality checks to support consistent modeling according to the agreed conventions without losing the flexibility to enrich models when needed.

This raises confidence in the repository information. Next to the tool features, Schaeffler has set up processes that support their transformation initiatives and foster a growing EA community. Thank you for reading this blog. For a detailed description of the quality check feature of BiZZdesign’s solution, please refer to this blog. In case you are not convinced that common Office tools don’t cover EA needs, please check “Enterprise Architecture with Excel, Visio and PowerPoint – The Recipe for Zero Business Value”.


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