Enterprise architecture tools guide

Written by
Reviewed by
Joe Ewing
Joe Ewing


Enterprise architecture tools guide

Discover your choices when choosing an enterprise architecture tool, which is key for any enterprise architecture management team wanting to create value quickly.

1. The function of enterprise architecture tools

Enterprise architecture management is about knowledge and communication. It brings together various perspectives, enabling an integrated analysis of the current and future state of the architecture of the enterprise.

Given the broad scope of enterprise architecture management and many stakeholders with different concerns involved in initiatives, documenting an architecture can be daunting.

The fact that Enterprise architecture management teams, especially in large organizations, may be distributed over different lines of business (LOBs), divisions, and geographical locations doesn’t help either.

A key focus is obtaining knowledge that greatly enhances decision-making, whether on a strategic or operational level. This knowledge needs to be efficiently managed and maintained, it also needs to be communicated to the right stakeholder at the right time and, even more importantly: in the right format.

Enterprise architecture management has a diverse audience of people with business and technical backgrounds, and each stakeholder should be addressed in a clearly understood language.

That’s why your team needs to select the right enterprise architecture tool.

Enterprise architecture management tools allow organizations to examine both the need for and the impact of change, and they capture the interrelationships and interdependencies between an ecosystem of partners, operating models, capabilities, people, processes, information, and applications and technologies [1].

On this page, you’ll find information on some of the top enterprise architecture tools available today. We’ll provide useful tips for selecting the right tools for your organization’s needs.

2. Top enterprise architecture tools on the market today

Enterprise architecture tools have evolved to meet the growing demands of organizations. Selecting an enterprise architecture tool is a big decision. A powerful tool can make the difference between success or failure when you need to make significant changes across your IT and business landscapes – now and in the future.

READ: Consider top enterprise architecture vendors: Use Gartner Magic Quadrant  

Enterprise architecture tools offer a range of features, including visualization, collaboration, project management, diagramming
and modeling capabilities. They help organizations create and implement models for better business and IT processes, development, and architecture.

“EA tools provide an enterprise metamodel and features to continuously evolve business and technology operation models. Enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders shoult select EA tools that support long-term business transformation, modernization and innovation goals.”[2]

For a comparison of enterprise architecture tools, go to:
Bizzdesign vs. LeanIX
Bizzdesign vs. Ardoq
Bizzdesign vs. Orbus

3. Requirements for enterprise architecture tools  

There are a number of critical requirements when comparing enterprise architecture tools. They need to be robust in managing and maintaining knowledge while providing flexibility for analysis (such as impact, what-if scenarios, etc.), presentation, and communication of this knowledge to various audiences.

These requirements necessitate a tool with strong repository capabilities and adaptable modeling and analysis functions:

  • The ability to design and re-use models or manageable partitions of enterprise architecture knowledge
  • Management of versions, including life cycle stages (from draft to approved, etc.) and design iterations
  • Architecture state management including temporal versions (current state, future state, etc.) and different scenarios
  • A meta-model that offers sufficient formality to model all facets of the enterprise coherently, flexibly and meaningfully (business, people, processes, technology)
  • Adaptable and on-demand modeling and analysis features are vital to address diverse questions and concerns stakeholders have about the enterprise architecture
  • Reporting and communication capabilities that can segment and dissect knowledge in any manner, with minimal limitations on the format in which the knowledge can be presented to various audiences.

4. Features of an enterprise architecture modeling tool

In the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Architecture Tools published December 12, 2000, the analyst firm identifies the following features an enterprie architecture tool need to have:

DOWNLOAD: 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Enterprise Architecture Tools

  • Repository: Provides a single source of truth for the organization with storage, categorization and versioning of objects, models and artifacts of various sorts, as well as the relationships between them and related business artifacts and views.
  • Modeling: Structures relationships across entities, such as business strategies, objectives, goals, constraints, capabilities, personas, customer journeys, activities, processes, value streams, policies, decision models, metrics, applications, technologies, roadmaps, projects and programs.
  • Analysis: Ability to identify, assess, prioritize and track gaps, challenges, opportunities and risks within and across portfolios of business capabilities, investments, processes, projects, applications and technologies.
  • Presentation: Displays and illustrations of information in the form of dashboards, heat maps, models and scenarios that contribute to the presentation capability of the tool. This helps colleagues understand and assess the impacts associated with decisions and proposed solutions.
  • Usability: Ease-of-use features and functions that enable support for various classes of users. Apart from enterprise architects, this includes users from anywhere in the business, analysts, business users, technology architects, strategy analysts and operations researchers.
  • Configuration and management: Setup and administration features to support the security of the EA tool, along with setting up different classes of users, their access rights and feature alignment. This also involves controlling access to information stored in the repository.
  • Extensibility: Ability to extend the metamodel of the EA tool through the definition of new modeling concepts and relationship types, up to new graphical representations and enforcing domain-specific rules.
  • Publication: Enables wide consumption of the data contained within the EA tool — across the enterprise and beyond. This implies the ability to capture comments and feedback on that content and/or score elements contained in repository views.
  • Frameworks: Starting point for structuring the repository and the relationships among artifacts, focusing on support for different architectural methods and vertical industry models. This includes support in choosing the EA frameworks to adopt, and to identify overlaps and gaps.
  • Integration: Exposing and importing data to and from other products, enabling the EA tool to be a hub uniting other common tools in the enterprise technology ecosystem. This includes categories such as product management, configuration management database (CMDB), PPM, business process management suite (BPMS) and process mining.
  • Automation: Features that help EA practitioners to industrialize their activities, delivering value more quickly and reliably, while keeping information up to date and fresh. This focuses on process and policy automation functionality used within the tool (rather than served up externally).
  • Innovation management: Mechanisms that support the creation and tracking of innovation and change initiatives. This includes support for ideation, trendspotting, and the engagement of colleagues, PPM links and benefits realization.

SEE: An interactive guided demo of an enterprise architecture tool in action


Bizzdesign named Leader in the 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Architecture Tools

Learn about the top enterprise architecture tools available on the market today.

Get access
Gartner report - Bizzdesign

5. Why open source enterprise architecture tools may present challenges 

There are several open source enterprise architecture tools available that can be used to create and manage enterprise architecture models. Examples of open source enterprise architecture tools include: The Essential Project, Archi, and AgendaRisk.

While open source tools offer several benefits, there are specific scenarios where your organizations may choose not to adopt them due to the following:

  • The level of technical expertise and support required. Open source tools typically rely on community support, which may not always provide the assistance required for complex implementations.
  • Open source tools might lack certain advanced features or integration capabilities LINK TO THEME 3 ServiceNow APM offered by commercial alternatives. Organizations with specific requirements or industry standards may struggle to comply with open source tools fully.
  • Commercial tools often have dedicated support teams, ensuring prompt assistance and timely updates.
  • Some organizations may prioritize vendor stability and accountability, which may not be guaranteed with open source projects. In such cases, commercial enterprise architecture tools might suit the organization’s needs more.

WATCH: ServiceNow: Guided Architecture with Bizzdesign From BD CONNECT ‘23 

6. Cloud-based enterprise architecture tools provide quick returns

Rather than opting for open source or on-premise enterprise architecture tools, most modern enterprise architecture management teams opt for cloud-based tools.

Top 4 reasons for choosing cloud-based enterprise architecture tools:

  1. Cost savings: Cloud-based tools often have lower upfront costs than on-premise solutions. Instead of making a large initial investment, organizations typically pay regular subscription fees, making it an operating expense (OpEx).
  2. Flexibility and scalability: Organizations can easily scale up or down based on their needs without additional hardware or infrastructure.
  3. Collaboration: Cloud-based tools provide a platform for teams to collaborate, share information, and make collective decisions.
  4. Maintenance and updates: With a cloud-based tool, the provider takes care of maintenance and updates, relieving your organization of the burden of managing and updating the software.

7. Benefits of using enterprise architecture tools vs. office tools

Implementing enterprise architecture tools can yield numerous benefits for organizations. These tools enable better decision-making, enhanced transparency, improved risk management, and optimized resource allocation.

DOWNLOAD: Gartner’s 8 Steps to Select and Obtain Value From Enterprise Architecture Tools

However, some enterprise architecture management teams still use homegrown tools such as MicrosoftÒ Visio, Excel, and PowerPoint despite the benefits.

3 Reasons why homegrown Enterprise Architecture tools won’t work 

  1. Stunted collaboration: Ever had a team of people collaborate on a single extensive document? There are issues with the different software versions, the document itself, failures with syncing changes, etc.
  2. Inferior modeling: While solutions like Visio might work for smaller organizations, enterprises need advanced functionality to gain important efficiencies.
  3. Lack of analytical depth: Much of the value of enterprise architecture management lies in the insights obtained from combining the structure offered by models with the various kinds of attributes, metrics and other data you can relate to – homegrown tools don’t provide this.

READ: Enterprise architecture Vs. Excel Visio and PowerPoint


8. Tips for enterprise architecture tool adoption 

Choosing the right enterprise architecture tools requires careful consideration. It is essential to assess your organization’s specific requirements, evaluate the tool’s capabilities, consider user-friendliness and scalability, and determine the level of support provided by the vendor.

READ: Considerations for selecting the right enterprise architecture tool

However, once you’ve purchased an enterprise architecture tool, you’ll also need to ensure successful enterprise architecture tool adoption. Here are some tips.

  1. Prioritize desired outcomes
    Identify and prioritize the outcomes you aim for. Choose a subset for the first release and welcome stakeholder input. Manage a transparent development backlog. Focus on delivering impactful features in the initial release, avoiding unnecessary modeling. Only model what aligns with the desired outcome.
  2. Adopt a simple approach
    A simple modeling approach indicates you’re on the right path. The approach can mature as needs change. Initially, limit the concepts, relations, attributes, viewpoints, and deliverables. Everything created should address the prioritized need. Your architecture processes should dictate when and how modeling is done within the broader architecture service.
  3. Maintain consistency
    After establishing a simple approach, ensure its consistent application. Implement rules to maintain modeling consistency. Training is more straightforward with a simpler approach, promoting better adoption and reducing intimidation. Consistency facilitates model analysis, providing evidence for decision-making – crucial for model-driven architecture.
  4. Speak your stakeholders’ language
    Effective architecture hinges on clear communication. Present facts in stakeholder-friendly terms. Experiment with presentation formats and solicit feedback. Avoid technical jargon, offering clear, straightforward messages. For detail-oriented stakeholders, offer self-service analytical capabilities.
  5. Federate and integrate data management
    For impactful architectural recommendations, understand solution-wide impacts and dependencies. Use your modeling tool for data aggregation from multiple sources for holistic decisions. Ensure data credibility through a federated yet integrated data management strategy. Define data sources and ownership. Uphold good data management practices and use only timely, relevant data. Outdated data undermines credibility.
  6. Connect the dots for Insights
    While models simplify analysis, they’re essentially interconnected elements. Many enterprises understand individual components, but your architect role involves connecting them. Connecting these elements often reveals new insights, forming the foundation of your architectural value.

[1] https://www.gartner.com/reviews/market/enterprise-architecture-tools
[2] https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/4008102

Enterprise architecture tools guide

Joe Ewing is a seasoned Enterprise Architect with expertise in Risk Management, Business Analysis, and Delivery. He excels in fast-paced consulting, having worked within a range of sectors like Secure Government, Energy, and Banking on transformative projects. Before Bizzdesign, Joe was a Senior Enterprise Architecture Consultant at Deloitte and ATOS, leading projects like Digital Workplace Transformations and M&As. architect teams.






Frequently asked questions on enterprise architecture tools

1. What are enterprise architecture tools?

Enterprise architecture tools are software applications that allow architects to plan, analyze, and design an organization’s architecture. These tools provide a centralized, consolidated source of truth about the organization. They capture the relationships and dependencies within and between an ecosystem of partners, operating models, capabilities, people, processes, information, and applications and technologies.

2. What are the essential features of enterprise architecture tools?

Enterprise architecture tools have many features designed to support the architecture development process. These features may focus on documentation management, impact analysis, reporting business capabilities, collaboration tools, and seamless integration with other systems.

3. What are some of the top enterprise architecture tools available?

Some of the top enterprise architecture tools available include Bizzdesign, Avolution Abacus, Software AG Alfabet, MEGA International Hopex, and QualiWare X. Bizzdesign is considered by some as the number one enterprise architecture tool.

4. What should I look for when choosing an enterprise architecture tool?

When choosing an enterprise architecture tool, you should look for modern, out-of-the-box, ready-to-use tools with intuitive user interfaces requiring little training or customization.

Their pricing should be user-based rather than consumption-based, allowing you to have all the tool’s functionalities and the ability to scale your enterprise architecture management team. You should also consider the essential features of the tool, such as modeling, visualization, collaboration, project management, and analysis capabilities, among others.

5. How can enterprise architecture tools help my organization?

Enterprise architecture tools can help your organization by providing a centralized, consolidated source of truth about the enterprise’s architecture. These tools capture relationships and dependencies within and between your ecosystem of partners, operating models, capabilities, people, processes, information, and applications and technologies. As such, your organization can improve business operations and ensure the execution of the overall business strategy.