Dunstan Thomas Consulting (DTC) worked with the Waitrose IT Strategy & Architecture team to understand how to get maximum value from using Sparx Enterprise Architect (EA). The team wanted to explore the capabilities of the tool to optimise its existing investment in EA skills and software
Waitrose IT has used Sparx Enterprise Architect since 2008 for UML modelling as part of the Partnership Systems Development Methodology (PSDM). This methodology is used across the John Lewis Partnership as part of the development lifecycle. In December 2013 the Waitrose IT Strategy & Architecture team started to investigate how to extend the existing use of EA from an analysis and development tool to an enterprise architecture tool. The IT Strategy & Architecture team was starting to work collaboratively across the business areas so they needed to be able to capture more stakeholder views to represent the enterprise architecture landscape. An Architecture Methods and Tools group was responsible for setting up how the IT Strategy & Architecture team worked with other teams and for setting up the architectural governance mechanisms.
Wider use of EA comes at a time when the Waitrose IT Strategy & Architecture team is growing in size and forging closer links with the rest of Waitrose. A demand for greater transparency also puts the onus on EA to help visualise some key high level elements which are crucial for business and IT planning, helping to illustrate: ‘What is our vision and objectives?’ and ‘Why are we doing this?’ Waitrose wanted to map the motivation, business, application, technology and implementation landscapes using ArchiMate notation in EA.
ArchiMate is a standard modelling notation to describe enterprise architectures. It presents a clear set of concepts within (and relationships between) architecture domains, and offers a simple and uniform structure for describing the contents of these domains. The team identified a few missing key elements from ArchiMate that they wanted to be included in the Waitrose metamodel. The team wanted to be able to model new elements, such as ‘Capabilities’, and to enhance existing elements, such as ‘Application Interface’, to display more information.
As Iain Plank, Enterprise Architect explained:
“The IT landscape within large organisations has generally become way too complex. It really is crucial to rationalise and centralise expertise pools as much as possible. If this work is not done, you end up with lots of systems with over-lapping capabilities. IT silos waste resources and prevent systems talking to each other which invariably generates more inefficiencies. We need to plan holistic IT systems to avoid these inefficiencies. Modelling our understanding of the enterprise is part of the solution.”
Solution: Enterprise Architect Super User & Reporting Training
Waitrose contacted Dunstan Thomas Consulting (DTC), the EA training specialists to investigate Sparx Enterprise Architect’s potential capabilities. Dunstan Thomas provided training on EA with a specific focus on enabling Waitrose to extend ArchiMate and to create the new elements required by Waitrose. In discussion with Waitrose, DTC designed a specific two day course for five Waitrose analysts based on DTC’s ‘EA Power User’ and ‘EA Reporting’ training courses. The training was completed during March 2014.
Sparx EA Power User modules:
- UML Profiles - Extending the UML and ArchiMate through the use of Profiles within Enterprise Architect thus allowing customised modelling.
- Tagged Values - Tagged Value types, enumerated tagged values, pre-defined structured tagged values.
- Shape Scripts - Use and definition with stereotypes, use and definition within Profiles, structure of Shape Scripts, predefined functions creating Shape Scripts, use of Tagged Values within Shape Scripts.
- Model Driven Generator (MDG) technologies - to create re-useable project structures, encapsulating UML Profiles and RTF templates in MDG, customised tool boxes and diagrams.
Generating Documentation with EA modules:
- HTML documentation
- Customisation of the output of HTML documentation
- RTF documentation using the templates as supplied with Enterprise Architect
- Producing customised templates
- Selecting the content
- Specifying the data to be output
- Formatting the output
- Use of tables
- Filtering and selecting the project content using report options, properties and model documents
- Use of model documents, Enterprise Architect master documents , Word master documents, and template fragments
- Batch production of documentation using Resource Documents
Dunstan Thomas Consulting were called back in June 2014 to assess how effectively Waitrose had done the configuration since the initial training and made sure that the tool was ready to be used in production of the architectural artefacts. During two days of trouble-shooting, stumbling points and additional queries were addressed and the Waitrose configuration of Sparx Enterprise Architect was good enough to be deployed to the EA user communities.
Dunstan Thomas Consulting training made it clear that Waitrose’s IT Strategy & Architecture team could do a great deal more with EA than was previously thought possible.
Stephanie McMahon, Business Systems Analyst:
“The Dunstan Thomas consultant who led the training, Phil Chudley, was brilliant for us. He helped us see what was possible with EA and taught us what could be done and what couldn’t be done, which is just as valuable. Together we made EA really sing for the first time. We are now able to model our landscape much more effectively with a tool we already had in-house. No additional licenses have been needed. It has been a great exercise in unlocking the potential of an existing tool.”
Iain Plank, Enterprise Architect:
“Enterprise Architect can now be used to build models using the actual terminology they use in the business. For example we have ‘Capability’ which flows through our models and is used when talking to the business. But that object does not exist in ArchiMate ‘out of the box’. Dunstan Thomas Consulting taught us how to create the new object and tag relevant properties and features to it.”
The IT Strategy & Architecture Methods and Tools group has passed on the new ways of working using EA around the Waitrose IT department. A number of ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions for Architects, Business Analysts, Developers and Testers were delivered. The team are now starting to explore some of the EA capabilities around reporting.
For Waitrose’s Lead Information Architect Ian Batty the insights provided by the training were invaluable:
“Dunstan Thomas’ training helped us to link the logical to the physical data models. We could link the logical to the conceptual already but to go a step further to link logical to the physical was a breakthrough which the training enabled.”
“Following the training we have been able to get a long way down the road towards gathering a holistic picture of how systems link to each other. With this view we can now run an accurate and timely impact assessment if we want to make a change. We are constantly looking for new efficiencies and that means exploring different ways of doing things. EA helps us make the right decisions when planning systems changes.”
Howard Burgess, IT Systems Developer and the Waitrose ‘Super-User of EA’ has been using EA since 2008 when Partnership Services Training first selected it. He used it for development and code generation in the past but today, as a key member of the IT Strategy and Architecture team, he is using it to define the core business data model which the development teams use as the basis for interfaces between systems
Howard Burgess explains:
“It is critical to have one common definition of what a ‘line’, ‘branch’ or ‘customer’ is. This definition, its attributes and relationships will then be used by all teams. This commonality enables systems to pass data to each other more easily. It also speeds up IT projects as the work can be reused.”
“Dunstan Thomas’ training has helped with development of the data model in specific areas. For example we were able to find out about EA’s facility to demarcate Controlled Packages which are pieces of a data model which can be used across multiple projects. We had not used this functionality before. We did some proto-typing and we decided that this was our preferred route to implement our common data model. Phil Chudley helped clarify the value of this.”
“He made us think about new ways of capturing information, this led us to innovate more in this area. For example, we wanted a security classification so that certain data such as ‘customer address’ can be tagged ‘private’ while any Waitrose branch name and address remains public. We are now able to tag data according to this new security classification to ensure personal data on all systems is kept private. The MDG in EA captures and records this. We are now building up this meta-data, the data behind the data.”
In DTC’s EA reporting training course Waitrose also learnt how to report more effectively. Waitrose has up to 700 data objects and each has between one and 30 attributes. It is a huge, complex model. They wanted to do a report which printed the whole model as a PDF. Discussions in the training on the use of MDG got the team at Waitrose thinking about further plug-ins for EA. The team have used a wiki page plug-in so they can publish the definition of a specific technical phrase without the business users having to use EA.
Howard Burgess explains:
“Some of the components of the common data model are owned by specific parts of the business. We wanted the business managers to feel like they had more visibility and control over these pieces. Rather than installing EA on each of their PCs and giving them extensive training on how to use it we built a wiki server and began populating it with descriptions of what specific elements mean and contain. Business managers are able to click on a specific term and read the wiki definition of what a technical term is. In this way we can promote better understanding of common terms and bridge any gaps of knowledge between business and IT.”
“I like the fact that it is so open: you can create, manipulate, export and customise data models using it. EA is a great little piece of software. With Dunstan Thomas’ help we are now exploring its full potential.”
This case study is available to download from the DT Consulting website.