The world of enterprise architecture is a dynamic landscape, constantly evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of organizations. In this dynamic environment, a rigid, linear approach to architecture development won’t suffice. That’s where The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) and its Architecture Development Method (ADM) come into play. While the graphical representation of TOGAF ADM may appear to be a linear, waterfall-style process at first glance, the reality is far more flexible and iterative. In this article, we will delve into the concept of iteration within the TOGAF ADM, exploring how it empowers organizations to navigate complexity and adapt to change effectively.

The Basics of TOGAF ADM

TOGAF ADM is a comprehensive methodology for developing and managing enterprise architectures. It consists of several phases, including Preliminary, Phase A to Phase H. While it may seem like a linear progression from one phase to the next, it is crucial to understand that this apparent linearity is merely a simplification for ease of communication. In practice, TOGAF ADM embraces two key concepts to manage complexity: iteration and levels.

  1. Iteration to Develop a Comprehensive Architecture LandscapeOne of the fundamental aspects of iteration in TOGAF ADM is the development of a comprehensive Architecture Landscape. This involves multiple cycles through the ADM, starting with Phase A. Each cycle is initiated by a “Request for Architecture Work,” which defines the scope and objectives of the architecture initiative.
    • Projects and Cycles: Projects are initiated to undertake specific architecture work, and they go through the entire ADM cycle, producing architecture outputs that contribute to the evolving Architecture Landscape. Different projects may operate their own ADM cycles concurrently, and they may even trigger the initiation of other projects based on identified opportunities or solutions.
    • Changing the Landscape: The output of each ADM cycle extends or modifies the existing Architecture Landscape, aligning it with the evolving needs of the organization.
  2. Iteration within an ADM Cycle (Architecture Development Iteration)The development of an architecture within a single ADM cycle is not a one-way street. It involves dynamic interactions between different phases, allowing for adaptability and convergence.
    • Concurrent Phases: Projects may operate multiple ADM phases concurrently. This is especially useful when dealing with complex inter-relationships between Business Architecture, Information Systems Architecture, and Technology Architecture.
    • Cycling Between Phases: In some cases, projects may cycle between different ADM phases intentionally, covering multiple phases in planned cycles. This approach is valuable when there is a need to converge on a detailed Target Architecture, especially when higher-level architecture context is absent or incomplete.
    • Returning to Previous Phases: Flexibility is a cornerstone of TOGAF ADM. Projects can return to previous phases to update work products with new information. This is often used to refine an executable Architecture Roadmap or Implementation and Migration Plan based on evolving stakeholder requirements.
  3. Iteration to Manage the Architecture Capability (Architecture Capability Iteration)Beyond the development of individual architectures, TOGAF ADM also recognizes the importance of managing the organization’s overall Architecture Capability.
    • Preliminary Phase Iteration: Projects may require additional iterations of the Preliminary Phase to establish or re-establish aspects of the Architecture Capability identified in Phase A. This can be in response to new requests for architecture work or changing requirements.
    • Adapting to Change: When Change Requests arise in Phase H, projects may initiate new iterations of the Preliminary Phase to adjust the organization’s Architecture Capability to accommodate new or modified requirements.

Examples in for Different types of Iteration

The following examples highlight how iteration within the TOGAF ADM framework allows organizations to respond to changing needs, refine their architectures, and ensure alignment with business objectives throughout the architecture development and management lifecycle.

Certainly! Let’s illustrate the different types of iteration within the TOGAF ADM framework with some practical examples:

  1. Iteration to Develop a Comprehensive Architecture Landscape:

    Example: Imagine a large multinational corporation embarking on an enterprise-wide digital transformation initiative. They initiate an ADM cycle (Phase A to Phase H) to create a Target Architecture that aligns with their strategic objectives. During this cycle, they identify several specific projects, such as implementing a new customer relationship management (CRM) system and upgrading their data center infrastructure. These projects each go through their own ADM cycles, contributing to the comprehensive Architecture Landscape. Additionally, one of the projects identifies the need for a new project to address cybersecurity concerns, triggering the initiation of another ADM cycle.

  2. Iteration within an ADM Cycle (Architecture Development Iteration):

    Example: A retail company is in the midst of developing a new e-commerce platform (a technology project) as part of their digital transformation strategy. In this project, they realize that their initial Business Architecture doesn’t fully support the customer experience they want to deliver. Instead of continuing linearly through the ADM phases, they concurrently revisit and refine their Business Architecture while progressing with Technology Architecture and Information Systems Architecture. This concurrent iteration allows them to align all aspects of their architecture effectively.

  3. Iteration to Manage the Architecture Capability (Architecture Capability Iteration):

    Example: A government agency responsible for citizen services has a well-established Architecture Capability. However, they receive a Change Request from a legislative mandate to enhance data privacy and security. In response, they initiate a new iteration of the Preliminary Phase to assess the impacts on their Architecture Capability. This involves updating governance processes, security policies, and training programs to comply with the new requirements. This iterative approach ensures that the Architecture Capability remains adaptable and responsive to external changes.

  4. Returning to Previous Phases for Updates:

    Example: A financial institution is implementing a new core banking system, and they have gone through several ADM cycles to develop the architecture. As they approach the implementation phase, they discover new regulatory requirements related to data retention. Rather than rigidly adhering to their current phase, they return to the Business Architecture phase to update their requirements and the Technology Architecture phase to incorporate the necessary data retention capabilities. This iterative approach allows them to stay compliant and align the architecture with evolving regulatory standards.

  5. Cycling Between Phases to Converge on a Target Architecture:

    Example: An aerospace manufacturer is developing a new aircraft. They start with an initial concept in the Preliminary Phase but find that they need to revisit and refine the Business Architecture, Information Systems Architecture, and Technology Architecture iteratively. They cycle between these phases multiple times until they converge on a detailed and feasible Target Architecture that meets both technical and business requirements. This iterative process ensures that the architecture is well-considered and aligned with the project’s goals.



TOGAF ADM is not a one-size-fits-all, linear process. Instead, it is a flexible and adaptable framework that embraces the concept of iteration. By understanding and applying iteration across different stages of the ADM, organizations can effectively navigate the complexity of developing and managing enterprise architectures. This iterative approach enables agility, ensures alignment with evolving business needs, and empowers organizations to thrive in an ever-changing business landscape. In essence, TOGAF ADM’s iterative process is the key to harnessing the power of enterprise architecture for sustainable success.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.