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You can’t manage what you can’t see! You can’t innovate what you can’t manage!

The goal of this blog post is to guide you in rationalizing and managing the application portfolio as per the best practices using the Sparx Systems suite of products.

The context we have considered is that you are an existing user of Sparx Enterprise Architect or the complete Sparx Systems suite of products (Enterprise Architect, Pro Cloud Server, and Prolaborate) who has some information maintained about some or most of the applications.

Now, you are trying to rationalize and manage the portfolio but the efforts are in vain as the whole experience is not smooth and requires a lot of repeated manual efforts. As the process is not very smooth, you are not getting enough support from the teams.

What is APR?

A rationalized application landscape helps organizations keep up with the emergind business needs, drive competitive advantage, and deliver superior service.

Outline Objectives and Scope

Let’s get started!

For the rationalization project to be successful, It is imperative to have a clear objective with a defined scope. It is not a good practice to just start collecting data once in a while without planning how to use it!


For example, the objective can be to identify cost reduction opportunities in ways of consolidation, cloud migration, license optimization, etc., And the scope can be just the applications used in a specific business unit or all the apps used in a specific location.

We are suggesting the scope be limited as a larger scope will require a larger audience to be involved and we know what happens when you start waiting for too many inputs from too many stakeholders.

Scoping using Prolaborate

If you have the required data for scoping already in your Enterprise Architect models, you can use Prolaborate to identify the apps that need to be considered in the rationalization process.

Here, we have grouped the applications based on their Business Unit. Say, you can just consider the applications belonging to Corporate Centre and Group Services business units as the scope.Business Unit

Build Inventory

Define Rationalization Model

Once you have identified what you want to achieve and where you want to start, the next step is to create a rationalization model i.e., finalize the details of the application that need to be collected.

It would be better to Involve Business and IT leaders while designing the rationalization model to start on the right foot and to get the right support.

While the rationalization model can be as elaborate as possible, it would be better to start simple. For example, here are the common attributes used in the model:

  1. Business Value rating
  2. Technical Health rating
  3. The total cost of ownership
  4. Lifecycle
  5. Business Unit
  6. Vendor
  7. Go Live and Sunset or EOL date
  8. Data Classification

While the above information can be just captured as individual tags in Enterprise Architect on each of the applications, it is not recommended to capture the data in that way as it will defeat the long-term goal of Application Portfolio Rationalization and Management.

The best way to start small, evolve, grow, and then take the rationalization process to a global level is to build a metamodel.

Here is a sample! You can build a metamodel based on the current clarity.

COTS Application

The good news is meta-models can be easily edited and are backward compatible as well.

Reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get this TOGAF ADM-based meta-model.

Import or Migrate Data

Import from Excel Files

Now, you know what you want to achieve and what data is needed to achieve that objective.

The next step is to build the application inventory by collecting the required data as per the rationalization model from the application owners.

If you have the application data in excel or CSV files or planning to collect the data through files, there are 2 ways how you can import them to the EA models.

MDG Integration for Microsoft Office

Using this popular add-in, you can Import the excel or CSV files. Learn more here.


You can also import the CSV files using the Excel Editor capability of Prolaborate. Learn more here.


import CSV


Migrate Data from Other Tools

If the data is regularly maintained in other tools like ServiceNow, you can easily integrate them with the EA models through Pro Cloud Server.

Once integrated, there would be no need to import and export data between these tools.

Learn more here.

Data Collection using Prolaborate


All that the architects or modelers have to do is just tag the application owner and initiate a discussion.


The application owners will get an email notification. They can just click on the link in the email and give their inputs.

 OpenId Authentication

While the Rationalization model can have a large list of attributes, you can customize the list and make it relevant based on the audience or current requirements (Learn more about MDG Form Designer of Prolaborate here).

As Prolaborate is directly connected to the EA models, the information is updated immediately.

Bulk Edit Data

If you like to edit the data of applications in bulk rather than one by one through the forms above, use the Excel Editor.

 Edit Elements

 Excel Editor is extremely convenient and user-friendly. Learn more here.


If the information is mostly populated already and you require the Application owners to review the information of many applications at once, it would be better to start a Review.

The application owners can just review the information, update if needed, and provide their feedback.


Review Application Portfolio

Business Capability Mapping

While just the application data can be used to derive some valuable insights, powerful decision-driving insights can be derived only if the applications are linked to other layers like Business, Information, and Technology. At least, Business capability mapping is mandatory.

If you have the connection details in excel, it can also be imported to the models using the MDG Integration for Microsoft Office.

Learn more about building Business Capability Maps here.

Data Validation

Now, all the application data has been properly loaded and linked to other layers in the EA model.

Or has it not been done? How can you be sure?

While we will be talking about the elaborate use of Prolaborate in visualizing the application data in the next section, you can start using the charting capabilities of Prolaborate in the Data Collection phase itself.

Here are few examples.

Have the application owners marked the Category for the applications?

From this chart, we can see that it is not filled. You can just click on the application for which the Category is not marked, tag the owner, and start a discussion.

 Application Data Validation

Are all Applications linked to respective Business Capabilities?

We could see all the applications (White boxes with orange header) are indeed connected to the capabilities (Green boxes).


Application and Business Capabilities

Alternatively, you can use the Relationship Matrix capability to ensure the required information is properly mapped.

 Relationship Matrix

Create Rationalization Map

Now, the application data is collected and validated for correctness as well. The next step is to confidently slice and dice the data to understand what’s going on!

Rationalization Map

Application map based on TIME matrix is a powerful and renowned rationalization tool!

Here we have mapped the Business Value and Technical Health ratings of the applications. The size of the bubbles represents the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).


Application Portfolio Rationalization

We can now clearly see the position of the applications:

  1. Invest

The applications in this quadrant are of High business value and in good technical health. You can invest in these applications and enlarge the user base, if possible

  1. Tolerate

The applications here are of Low business value but in good health and so, you can tolerate these applications for now. You can keep an eye on these applications if the health deteriorates.

  1. Eliminate

The applications here are of Low business value and health. There is a high probability that these apps will just be removed from the catalog after a formal analysis. These apps will be our second priority in the rationalization process.

  1. Migrate

While apps marked for elimination are easy to target and start with, the apps in this section will be our priority (At least for the analysis!) as these apps have high business value but at risk with a low technical health score.

Working on the health of these apps will be much more beneficial and cost-effective than saving some bucks from eliminating apps.

Drive Insights

While you can jump right on to the next step to analyze changes, here are examples of some visualizations that can help you understand the possibilities in Prolaborate.

What is the TCO of Applications?

We can understand the Total Cost of Ownership of applications easily through this bar chart.

 Total cost of ownership


Which Capabilities rely on retiring applications?

Here we are visualizing the relationship between Capabilities and Applications.

We can easily see which capabilities that are at risk because of relying on applications that are retiring soon as they are color-coded in Red.

 Capabilities retiring application

Which Business Units rely on Applications with low Technical Health rating?

Here we try to understand the impact of applications with low Technical Health ratings on the Business Units.

We can see 3 out of 4 business units use applications with low technical health.

 Technical Health Rating

Which Applications are expiring in the next 6 months?

To decide a successor or plan an alternative, we need to understand the EOL or Sunset date or license expiry of applications.

This chart helps us do exactly that. The applications are color-coded based on the Vendor and grouped by Business Unit for better understanding. Milestones are introduced for reviews.



Analyze Changes

Now, you have a clear view of the portfolio and you have identified some applications to migrate or eliminate.

The next step is to analyze the impact of changing or removing these applications.

You can use the Impact Analysis feature of Prolaborate to understand how an application to other layers of the architecture.


Impact Analysis


Here, we could see an application is connected to other projects, data models, business activities, capabilities at the first level. Further, we are seeing what a specific business capability is connected to.

You can go on and on to explore multiple levels of impacts in a controlled way easily.

Create Target Portfolio and Roadmap

Now, we have a good idea of the portfolio, what changes can be made, and the impact of the changes.

 The next step is to present these findings to the decision-makers, plan and kick-start the rationalization process.

Build CxO-level or Role-based dashboards

Different audiences would like to see different aspects of the portfolio and so, you need to build specific dashboards to suit their needs.

Create role-based dashboards in Prolaborate and assign them to the right audience.

 Manage Dashboard

Here, we can see there are different dashboards created based on the audience:

  1. Application Portfolio Rationalization – Focusses on the ongoing rationalization process
  2. CIO and CTO dashboards – Dashboards specifically built for CIO and CTO office respectively
  3. Application Portfolio Management – Provides varied inputs on managing the application portfolio. This serves as a quick reference if you want to get an idea about the portfolio
  4. Summary Dashboard – This primarily serves as a Navigation dashboard giving an idea of the different kinds of dashboards that are built in Prolaborate

Whenever a user logs in, they will see their default dashboard as the landing page. No clicks or navigation expected!


The users can go through the information presented in the dashboard and give their feedback or suggestions using the Dashboard Collaboration widget.



This enables better collaboration between the teams.

Start Reviews

You can also start reviews of the Future state architecture and get approvals from the stakeholders within Prolaborate.

The stakeholders can give their comments easily.

 Start Review


Plan and Execute

Once the changes are discussed and the changes are approved, now is the time for the execution to be kick-started.

You can plan out the activities, build a Roadmap, add to the stakeholder’s dashboards, and complete the project.

 Plan and Execute

The complete project lifecycle can be managed within Prolaborate. You can break down the breakdown into multiple tasks and activities, assign timelines and status to them.

Then you can keep a track of the progress by building a project dashboard and track the project to completion.

Published in Community Resources
Monday, 04 May 2020 18:52

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Published in News

It is not uncommon for Product releases to have a plethora of new features added., and as an Enterprise Architect user for the last 15 years, I was having just normal expectations when I peeked into the list of new features in the newly released Enterprise Architect 15.1. However what I saw in the list gave me an adrenalin rush, Some of the features in 15.1 nails the bulls-eye by solving some of the long reported pain points, and this prompted me to come up with this write up to share what I found

I’m trying to give a gist of the 4 features that have given me enough reasons to go to all my clients and request an update to the newer version.  

1. Freezing Visible Relationships

This one feature will be a reason enough for many teams I know to upgrade. We’ve spent a lot of time figuring out ways to suppress new relationships in other diagrams (scripting, addins, etc.) and have always found it challenging to achieve.


EA’s capability to create a central repository and reuse elements across multiple diagrams in incredibly useful, however when a diagram is finalized for publishing, sharing or review, it is still prone to show any new connectors that might have been introduced elsewhere using the same elements. This disrupts the diagram’s look and feel and has always been a point of contention from architects.

EA 15.1’s feature to freeze visible relationships in diagrams that are finalized makes a gamut of difference, as the architects or the modellers don’t have to be nervous about some inadvertent changes in the model affecting their diagrams.

Freeze Visible Relationships2. Diagram Layers 

I ‘m equally excited to see the diagram layers feature. Creating layered views is something that we always do when creating architecture models. Diagrams could have several layers spanning across Business – Application – Information – Technology models.

An ability to selectively turn on –off layers gives architects a really useful utility to slice and dice information and understand models better.

This is useful to hide parts of the diagram, and making it consumable in parts. The added advantage is that the Connectors are also turned on and off accordingly.

Refer to some screenshots that I created by applying filters on one of my existing diagrams.

Diagram Layers All Layers visible

Diagram Layers Corproate Strategy Layer Off

Diagram Layers Corporate Communicaitons Layer

3. Model-based Business Vocabulary

Business Glossary is another feature that has always been slightly elusive, as we were only able to define terms flatly and less model-based. For a structured modelling with attention to detail, it is imperative to have a model-based vocabulary with terms and definitions defined, grouped, categorized, and reused in multiple contexts.

The new Model-based vocabulary feature allows us to do just that. This lets users Define and group their terms using elements, connectors, and packages. The traditional Project Glossary window will also show all model-based glossary terms in its listings.   

Glossary toolbox


4. Faster Model Export-import Through Cloud interface

This redefines the way we’ve worked with model backups, project transfers and baselines in EA. The following pointers have nailed it and have solved several outstanding pain points (over the years).

a. It uses native XML format for export/import, this is proving to be multi-folds faster than the traditional XMI 1.1 / 2.1.

b. This does Full transfer including complete model and all reference data.

c. Allows Project transfer through Cloud Connections (PCS), which was a showstopper previously. This eliminates the need for a direct database connection

Project Transfer Native

If you are a serious EA user and have come across any of these pain points in the past, I would suggest you take a look at https://sparxsystems.com/products/ea/15.1/index.html

(And now the shameless plug) This is Nizam, I've been working with Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect for 15 years now. I'm an EA consultant and the product manager for the sharing and publishing platform Prolaborate (https://prolaborate.sparxsystems.com/)

Published in White Papers


Panorama 360 for Insurance and Wealth Management has a new website with new offerings and services. InsuranceFrameworks.com offers the most complete set of reference material, called Panorama 360, to the Insurance and Wealth Management industry, globally. Panorama 360 allows organizations to plan, design, develop and manage organizations, processes and technology.

On the website, we provide an import file to Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect with Enterprise Capability model, Enterprise Business Architecture Framework, information Models, an Organizational Integration map and more than 35 core business processes. Not only do we have an import file for Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect, we have added online courses that explain how Panorama 360 works so you can get the most out of your Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect tool. 

  1. Architecture Frameworks (4.5 hours)
  2. Business Process Models (4.5 hours)

The Panorama 360 Enterprise Business Architecture Framework and Business Process Models courses are also offered live-online or on your premises. 

For more information, go to https://www.insuranceframeworks.com. I can also be contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Join my network on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pierre-gagn%C3%A9-fcip-fpaa-077701/.

You can also join the Insurance Frameworks Group on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7418443/ to get the latest news.

Published in News
Monday, 15 July 2019 09:09

Images Assets and Custom Diagrams in EA 15

Images Assets and Custom Diagrams in EA 15

Using images to add relevance to any architecture diagram is a very common practice. Enterprise Architect has always supported modellers to set ‘Alternate Image’ or ‘Default Image’ for elements to create such diagrams.  However the users have always sought for an ability to manage a set of image assets in a catalogue and reuse it across multiple diagrams.

The New approach in EA 15 to manage and reuse images in diagrams is a significant enhancement. The ‘Image Asset’ element lets users create a model item to store an image. These items can then be used to apply overlays on other model elements.

Image Assets

The Image Asset images can be used as alternative images in place of the standard UML notation for elements on diagrams. They can also be used in documentation by inserting hyperlinks to the Image Asset element. When a report is generated, the hyperlinked Image Asset element is rendered using its 'owned image'

To create an image asset, Select the 'Artifacts' section in toolbox | select 'Image Asset' | click on the diagram, or Drag an 'Image Asset' Artifact from the toolbox onto a diagram.


Image Asset Diagram

Figure 1 Image Assets Catalogue


Custom Diagram

The new ‘Custom Diagram’ option in EA 15 allows users to create a highly customizable, graphic-rich diagram that is on-par with any modern drawing tools.  Custom Diagram enables the most options to use the Image Assets.

Using Image Assets

The Image Assets from the repository can be used to perform the following actions

  • Set as Icon – As an icon of an Existing Element
  • Set as Alternate Image – As an alternate Image on an existing element
  • Add as element with Icon
  • Add as element with Image
  • Add as link

Image Asset Options

Figure 2 Options to Use Image Assets

Set As Icon

Use Image Asset to  set it as an icon for an existing element or a new element (This is my favourite!).  In the previous versions, users must rely on shapescripts to achieve such visualization.

Image asset Set As Icon

Figure 3 Set Image as Icon

Set as Alternate Image

You can also use the Image Asset to set it as an alternate image for an existing element or create a new element with the image as alternate image.

Image asset Set As Alternate Image

Figure 4 Set Image as Alternate Image

Updating Image Asset

There are two key benefits in using the ‘Image Assets’

  1. Ability to drag and drop from project browser to apply image as an icon or alternate image
  2. Ability to update the image asset and also cascade the change across all diagrams where the image asset is used

You can ascertain the impact of modifying a Image Asset by using ‘Find In All Diagrams’ (Element Usage, similar to any other element usage)

Image Asset Usage

Figure 5 Image Asset – Usage


Using the new enhanced ‘Custom Diagram’ and ‘Image Asset’ of EA 15, I’ve created a deployment diagram (below) which was in-par with a graphic rich diagram created using any drawing tool, at the same time retaining the benefits of a modelling repository.

Prolaborate Architecture Diagram

Figure 6 Prolaborate Architecture Diagram created using EA 15 Image Assets

Published in Tutorials
We invite you to join Ramsay Millar, globally recognized TOGAF® Practitioner who has successfully deployed TOGAF® practices and 21 architecture repositories across organizations using Sparx Enterprise Architect. 
Ramsay distinguishes himself as an industry leader with his in-depth experience and highly practiced background in enterprise architecture, consulting, training, and course authorship.
He has just released his newest ONLINE workshop, "Enterprise Architect for TOGAF Practitioners".
Published in News
Thursday, 14 January 2016 09:39

Enterprise Architect - Exploring the tool

Sparx Systems: Authorised Enterprise Architect Training PartnerExploring Enterprise Architect through video

I have had the pleasure of working with Phil Chudley over the last 8+ years at Dunstan Thomas Consulting & last year we were working very closely on the online training project. While putting together the various materials that make up our online content we recorded a series of helpful video clips to supplement the materials and we thought we would now share these with the wider EA community.

In these videos Phil Chudley, Principal Consultant & OMG Certified UML Professional at DT Consulting, will be walking us through the Sparx Systems modelling tool, Enterprise Architect.  This series of videos will talk us through the basics from the portals screen right up to some of the more specialised modelling functionality.


If you can't wait to view all of our videos from this series please visit our YouTube channel ... and don't forget to subscribe!

Published in Tutorials

Dunstan Thomas Consulting - Sparx Systems Authorised Training PartnerNew training course from Dunstan Thomas Consulting

Course design by Phil Chudley

Who Should Attend?

This course is suitable to anyone who models ArcGIS Geodatabases and wishes to create both a visual representation of the ArcGIS Geodatabase and an XML ArcGIS workspace file for input to other tools such as ArcCatalog.

What will I learn?

Upon completion of the course you will have learned the following:

  • How Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect supports ArcGIS Geodatabase Modelling
  • How to configure Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect for ArcGIS Geodatabase Modelling
  • How to structure a model repository for efficient ArcGIS Geodatabase Modelling using libraries of re-usable elements
  • The practical skills of creating and maintaining ArcGIS Geodatabase Modelling via a worked example
  • Productivity tips and tricks when using Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect
  • How to validate an ArcGIS Geodatabase Model
  • How to import and export a ArcGIS Geodatabase Modelling via XML
  • How to import a ArcGIS Geodatabase Model created in Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect into ArcCatalog

Course Content

  • Overview of Enterprise Architect and its support for ArcGIS Geodatabase Modelling
    • Practical – Configuring Enterprise Architect for ArcGIS Geodatabase modelling
  • Development of an example:
    • Design;
    • Practical use of Enterprise Architect to create an ArcGIS Geodatabase model
    • Productivity Aids when use Enterprise Architect
    • Capturing ArcGIS data within Enterprise Architect using ArcGIS tagged values
    • Dealing with relationships
  • Validation
    • Validating the model using the ArcGIS validation script
  • Implementation
    • Exporting the model to ArcGIS Workspace XML
    • Importing to the ArcGIS workspace XML to ArcCatlaog


It is assumed that all attendees for this course will be familiar with the ArcGIS Geodatabase Meta-Model. Previous knowledge of Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect is desirable but not essential.

If you would like to know more about our training & consulting services then please visit our website or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in News