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I passed the TOGAF cert, and all I got was this lousy piece of paper…

Fog a mirror? Check.  Study and pass the TOGAF certification? Check.  Congratulations, you are now an architect.  Wait, what?

If you have ever wondered what the TOGAF certification gets you (or any cert for that matter), you may be disappointed to discover that it does not grant you preferred seating at restaurants, airline upgrades, or even a guarantee of employment.  All you definitely get is a piece of paper (or more likely a PDF that you could choose to print on a piece of paper in the event that you hate trees).  I have written previously about the speculative value of architecture certification.

All of this begs the question.  Let’s assume that you HAVE gotten TOGAF certified, what should you do next?

Top 5 Things To Do After Getting TOGAF Certified

(Note: It requires every ounce of my self-control to provide you with real answers here and not do a satirical list in the format of The Late Show with David Letterman.)

  1. Resolve the building block concept
  2. Unpack each architecture domain
  3. Compile a list of reference models
  4. Learn another framework or approach
  5. Tailor TOGAF to the essentials

1. Resolve the Building Block Concept

I have written previously about the mythical creation known as the TOGAF “Building Block“. Getting a solid handle on this and crafting a viable model for how you will elaborate building blocks is essential to being able to actually use TOGAF on a real project.

2. Unpack each Architecture Domain

Define for yourself (or your organization) the exact role of each type of architect (business, data / information, application, infrastructure, security, etc.).  Additionally, you will need to define distinctions that exist between analysts, SMEs, and architects within each domain.

Example 1: Most individuals when asked to define a ‘Business Architect’ will define it essentially the same as how they would define a ‘Senior Business Analyst’.

Example 2: Very few organizations truly have a data architecture discipline.  Instead, they typically have some basic data modeling skills and a heavy emphasis upon database administration.  These capabilities are a far cry from real data architecture.

I have explored the subject of architecture domain knowledge previously.

3. Compile a list of reference models

Reference Models play an important part in promoting an effective architecture practice, because they serve as a starting point for creating new artifacts and they can be used to validate and critique artifacts that have already been created.

Places to look for RM artifacts

  • Other frameworks (FEAF has a huge set of RMs)
  • Standards organizations (Open Group, OMG, OASIS, etc.)
  • Industry organizations (ACORD for Insurance, TeleManagement Forum for Telecom, etc.)

4. Learn another framework or approach

The Open Group is actually quite clear on this advice.  It is TOGAF and, not TOGAF or. You can, and should, learn as many frameworks, methods, and ontologies as you can. Knowing more architectural methods will give you a broader perspective and equip you to pull together a best-of-breed approach.

Frameworks / methods to consider:

  • EA Frameworks such as Zachman, FEAF, and TRAK
  • Solution Architecture styles such as BPM, SOA, MDM, etc.
  • PMI
  • Six Sigma / Lean

5. Tailor TOGAF to the Essentials

TOGAF is….

  • A 700+ page specification
  • A massive set of artifacts, deliverables, guidelines, techniques, models, and meta-models that are designed to be:
    • Comprehensive
    • General
    • Adapted to your needs

TOGAF is huge. Trying to implement all of it is a sure-fire way to produce an architecture approach that is bulky and unwieldy.  Instead, you should Embrace the agile principle of ‘just enough’.  In fact, many of clients are turning to toward the notion of Agile EA.

Moving Beyond Certification

Getting certified is a great first step in the journey toward architecture enlightenment. Treat as the beginning of your journey rather than the end of it and then proceed with concrete steps to apply what you have learned.  TOGAF, in particular, provides an enormous set of potential resources.  Start small and build your practice incrementally if you want any hope of preserving your insanity or grabbing ahold of that elusive architecture ROI.


Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Kyle Gabhart

Kyle Gabhart is a subject matter expert specializing in strategic planning and tactical delivery of enterprise technology solutions, blending EA, BPM, SOA, Cloud Computing, and other emerging technologies. Kyle currently serves as a director for Web Age Solutions, a premier provider of technology education and mentoring. Since 2001 he has contributed extensively to the IT community as an author, speaker, consultant, and open source contributor.

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