Enterprise architecture (EA) is about analyzing and understanding the IT structure of an organization (or ‘enterprise’). Architects outline the processes and relationships contained within a business for the sake of optimizing the overall efficiency and direction of IT. 

Still, an organization can be a highly complex organism. As it begins to scale up, the clarity and perspective offered by enterprise architecture becomes ever more essential, but also more difficult to achieve. 

To cope with this, businesses utilize enterprise architecture frameworks. These are created with tools, best practices, and guidance from professional enterprise architects with years of practical experience. Frameworks also cover multiple aspects of a typical business, allowing practitioners to create comprehensive ‘architectures’ that can be invaluable in guiding an organization forwards.

The popularity of enterprise architecture has, naturally, resulted in there being several competing frameworks. The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) offers a comprehensive yet fluid approach to EA via the Architecture Development Method (ADM). ArchiMate, meanwhile, is an EA modeling language that can communicate EA concepts to a variety of audiences, regardless of their knowledge or background.

Both were created by The Open Group, with ArchiMate having been developed to complement TOGAF and other frameworks. Each has elements that the other lacks, and while studying both of them is an excellent choice for career enterprise architects, it is not uncommon for candidates to choose one over the other.

So, what are the real differences between TOGAF and ArchiMate? How can you choose between them? Let’s take a look!

Choosing TOGAF 9.2

TOGAF is ideal for businesses that want to optimize their IT infrastructure, whether for the sake of day-to-day operations or to facilitate significant changes. Indeed, TOGAF enterprise architects can even create architectures of the current and future states of a business to help facilitate the change from A to B.

TOGAF describes different elements of enterprise architecture, including Business, Applications, Data, and Technology architecture. Collectively, these elements paint a comprehensive picture of a business, though TOGAF practitioners can choose which parts to emphasize. The Open Group even offers separate certifications, such as TOGAF Business Architecture (TOGAF BA), for users with a narrower focus. 

TOGAF is also vendor-neutral, meaning that it can be adapted to suit any business or organization. This is largely thanks to the ADM itself being highly customizable (to the extent that even the steps involved can be rearranged). Artifacts created during TOGAF projects can even be reused to streamline future initiatives. The common terminology offered by TOGAF also makes it easy for practitioners to collaborate on any project (and even between businesses).

Whether or not you need TOGAF is a question of clarity, efficiency, and governance. It can help you become fully aware of how IT operates in your business, including what it does, who is involved, and where it can be improved. This clarity will also empower stakeholders to make the best strategic decisions possible.

If you are looking to optimize your IT operations or pursue significant digital or business transformation goals, TOGAF could be the perfect option for you.

Choosing ArchiMate 3

If you do not utilize enterprise architecture at this point in time, you definitely don’t need ArchiMate. It is a tool designed to facilitate EA and does not help users create architectures from the ground up.

However, for what it actually is, ArchiMate 3 still sets a high standard. The essence of ArchiMate is clarity; audiences within a business can vary significantly in terms of skills and backgrounds (never mind their familiarity with EA). A lack of understanding of EA concepts can make architectural changes difficult to implement, staggering progress and limiting ROIs.

ArchiMate diagrams can vary in terms of complexity, depending on the audience it is being presented to. This allows enterprise architects to communicate concepts to different groups throughout a business. At the same time, the ArchiMate language is lean and simple, allowing practitioners to save a great deal of time in explaining concepts and collaborating with other architects.

If you are looking to facilitate and optimize your existing EA practices, regardless of whether or not you use TOGAF, ArchiMate could be exactly what you need.

Should I choose TOGAF or ArchiMate?

While both are enterprise architecture standards created by The Open Group, it is important to remember that they perform distinctly different functions. 

TOGAF does not contain an EA modeling language. Rather, it provides tools and best practices for architects to utilize. It undoubtedly sets a global standard and has long been regarded as the world’s most popular enterprise architecture framework. 

ArchiMate, on the other hand, does not offer a process for actually creating enterprise architectures, artifacts, or digital transformation strategies. Rather, it helps represent these elements in a way that is easy to communicate to stakeholders, IT staff, and other audiences.

In short, it would be inaccurate to consider them direct competitors in a versus match, as they simply don’t clash. Rather, they are distinct options with their own functions, which are worth considering separately.

Combining TOGAF and ArchiMate

Combining TOGAF and ArchiMate is an excellent way to create a fully optimized EA practice. The comprehensive and flexible approach of TOGAF can create architectures perfectly suited to your business, while the clarity of ArchiMate will make architectural changes much easier to communicate and facilitate. 

Combining the two is certainly the best option, but hardly mandatory. Ultimately, the decision should be based on your current EA setup. If you have enterprise architects on hand, they may well have their own preferences and advice on what to study, as well as whether or not to offer training to individuals, teams, or departments.

For new enterprise architects, studying TOGAF and Archimate can offer excellent career opportunities. They each offer a rewarding certification path that can help candidates understand high-level EA concepts and eventually become qualified for senior roles as fully rounded professionals.

Studying enterprise architecture with Good e-Learning

Good e-Learning is a world-class online training provider offering award-winning enterprise architecture courses. Our TOGAF 9.2 certified online course won the ‘Outstanding Certification Product’ at the Open Group 2018 awards in London, and we work with a number of subject matter experts to deliver practical and insightful learning experiences.

Each of our courses comes with a range of online training assets, including instructor-led videos, practice exams, and regular knowledge checks. We also offer free downloadable resources. Thanks to the Go.Learn app, students can study from any web-enabled device, and with months of course access, it is easier than ever for candidates to study when it suits them. We even offer FREE certification exam vouchers, as well as free resits via Exam Pledge.

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Want to find out more? Visit the Good e-Learning website, or contact a member of our team today!

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Philip is a content writer with experience across multiple industries, including gaming, home improvement, and now e-learning. He graduated from the London School of Economics with a BA in History before taking on various odd jobs and volunteer writing positions, but soon broke into professional writing as a retail journalist. Now focusing on content writing, Philip is a tireless enemy of cliched corporate jargon. He believes that marketing content should be clear, concise and relevant to readers. Rather than assuming that customers know all about your solution, it is up to you to identify with their problem and offer something that will really get their attention. As such, he strives to understand the real-world applications of Good e-Learning’s product portfolio so that it can be explained in a way that is both coherent and down to earth. If you cannot understand what you are selling, you won’t get far! In his spare time, Philip enjoys watching movies, gaming and writing with friends.