These days, IT is a critical source of value for businesses. Whether in terms of empowering internal business functions, delivering services to customers, or pursuing major transformation initiatives, having a clear understanding of your internal IT operations is vital for the continued success of your organization.
The complexity of IT, given how it is often connected to multiple if not all aspects of a business, can form a significant barrier to reaching this level of understanding. Organizations will typically invest in IT-related frameworks to deal with this, with a number of world-class names offering proven tools, insight, and best practices.
IT4IT and TOGAF are two such frameworks. Both are creations of the Open Group and offer flexible yet comprehensive routes to optimizing IT and its relationship with business strategy. But what exactly do the frameworks focus on? How do they complement one another? Most importantly, how can a business or training candidate choose the most suitable framework?
Let’s take a look at who wins the debate of IT4IT vs. TOGAF.
IT4IT is a reference architecture designed to map out the functional components within an organization. It looks at how IT influences and empowers different aspects of a business, with an emphasis on stages where IT contributes to the creation of products and services (known as the IT ‘value chain’). This perspective helps IT4IT practitioners to highlight areas for improvement while also providing clarity to decision-makers.
Notably, IT4IT was not built as a competitor to the likes of ITIL, COBIT, or even TOGAF. Instead, it offers a framework as well as tools and best practices that complement them and reduce the complexity of managing them simultaneously. In short, regardless of what tools, frameworks, and practices help businesses create value, IT4IT can map out and optimize them.
IT4IT identifies ‘Primary’ and ‘Supporting’ activities for these processes while also bringing in guiding principles for managing components and data objects. It focuses on highlighting and improving individual elements, using its perspective to work from the ground up rather than optimizing the entire lifecycle at once.
The IT4IT architecture focuses largely on business needs and using IT to develop appropriate solutions. In other words, it works to cut out wastage. This increased alignment helps to remove unnecessary costs within IT, simplify workflows, and increase efficiency. The level of perspective offered by IT4IT also creates traceability to drive continuous improvement.
In short, IT4IT creates holistic architectures of interconnected business and IT infrastructures. While this may sound complex, IT4IT can be simply to start using, as it can be implemented incrementally. At the same time, its approach is prescriptive and comprehensive, giving practitioners a demonstrably effective blueprint for managing IT solutions.
Even despite its prescriptive approach, IT4IT remains flexible. It does not transform business models to suit a preconceived IT4IT structure. Rather, it adapts to businesses regardless of their size, shape, sector, and so on.
IT4IT qualifications have also boomed in demand over the years. Businesses are eager to adopt the architecture and enhance their operations, giving practitioners the chance to unlock new responsibilities and higher-paying roles.
That being said, investing in IT4IT training requires commitment from both businesses and individuals. IT4IT can transform IT within a business, but the business itself – along with its managers and stakeholders – must be prepared to help implement changes.
Over time, however, any complexity associated with the implementation will dissipate. Instead, you will find your IT structure simplified and enhanced as much as possible, empowering your business to enjoy major and continuous benefits.
The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) is the world’s most popular Enterprise Architecture (EA) framework, as well as another creation of the Open Group. It is designed to align business with IT while also optimizing IT operations, as well as the relationships between teams, departments, outsourced service providers, and so on. It also helps to define organizational requirements for meeting strategic targets.
TOGAF 9.2 offers demonstrably effective tools and best practices for planning, developing, and implementing new architectures. The Architectural Development Method (ADM) at the heart of the framework is also highly flexible, making it easier for TOGAF practitioners to create architectures suited to individual organizations rather than any set standard.
The framework teaches managerial aspects to help practitioners lead architectural changes, liaise with managers and stakeholders, and so on. TOGAF teams are also well-equipped to collaborate on major projects, given the common terminology of the framework.
The TOGAF certification path offers a clear roadmap for understanding enterprise architecture as a discipline. However, enjoying the full benefits of the framework requires practitioners who are both qualified and experienced. Naturally, this also puts practitioners in high demand, making TOGAF training an excellent investment for architects willing to put in the work.
Should I choose IT4IT or TOGAF?
Choosing IT4IT or TOGAF really boils down to what you want to accomplish.
IT4IT is about improving elements of business and IT that create value-producing products and services. This perspective helps drive optimization and competitiveness and can be extremely useful for both continuous improvement and large-scale IT transformation projects. While IT4IT can be quite technical to get into, it can also be adopted incrementally and has incredible long-term benefits.
If you require an end-to-end understanding of service delivery within your company, IT4IT is an excellent choice. It can provide you with a holistic perspective on systems, tools, roles, capabilities, and how they can each be improved.
TOGAF is an enterprise architecture tool. If EA is your focus, you can’t do much better, especially if you are a practitioner candidate. It takes a high-level and flexible approach that covers all domains within EA, and the Open Group even offers more niche versions, such as TOGAF Business Architecture (TOGAF BA).
If you are planning large-scale programs involving your technical infrastructure, TOGAF training can be an excellent investment. It will provide decision-makers with a high level of clarity and perspective while also helping to simplify operations, boost efficiency, and create artifacts that can be reused to drive continuous improvement.
For a better idea of which framework is most suited to you and your needs, it will be best to speak to experienced IT managers within your organization. Both TOGAF and IT4IT also have active practitioner communities to answer questions regarding each respective architecture.
Combining IT4IT and TOGAF
IT4IT and TOGAF are both highly prominent names in IT and business management. However, it is important to realize that they perform distinct functions and work on different scales.
Within IT4IT, enterprise architecture can be seen as one element of many. It would be completely appropriate to factor TOGAF into an IT4IT architecture, as long as it is suitably integrated with other elements within the value chain. With IT4IT, an organization can actively break down silos between enterprise architecture, IT service management, and so on. IT4IT and TOGAF can even complement one another in their respective roles. In short, IT4IT can function as a larger reference architecture in which to manage EA.
In ‘IT4IT™ and TOGAF® – How Do They Fit Together?’, Michael Fultan of the Open Group writes: “The CIO can get significant value from using IT4IT in a top-down manner as a strategic assessment tool to drive improvement across the IT function and help transform the IT Operating Model.
“The Enterprise Architect can get significant value from using IT4IT in more of a bottom-up manner as a reference model to speed up architecture work and to drive vendor integration and standardization in the IT Management tool space.”
Studying business and IT transformation and enterprise architecture with Good e-Learning
Good e-Learning is an award-winning online training provider. We have worked with thousands of businesses to upskill candidates on Open Group frameworks, and we were even awarded the ‘Outstanding Certification Product’ prize at the 2018 Open Group Awards. Our fully accredited TOGAF and IT4IT courses are ideal for both individuals and organizations wanting to enjoy the full benefits of the frameworks.
We work with highly experienced subject matter experts to deliver courses that not only help candidates pass their exams but also provide practical advice to help students succeed in their careers. Good e-Learning regularly releases free downloadable resources, webinars, and blogs on the topics we cover to help students go beyond the syllabus. Our support team is also fully qualified to answer questions on specific topics and frameworks.
Each course comes with six to 24 months of access, and students can study on any web-enabled device thanks to the Go.Learn app. When a student is ready to sit a certification exam, they can also contact the Good e-Learning support team to request a FREE exam voucher or resit.