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What is an Architectural Requirement?

Blog: Good e-Learning Blog

TOGAF has a whole phase of the ADM devoted to Architecture Requirements Management. But this doesn’t really tell you what an architecture requirement is?

It sounds a simple question – What is an Architectural Requirement? Surely it’s simply a need to change the architecture in some way. And surely there’s a clear reason for making the changes. But it’s not that simple. Sometimes an architectural requirement is confused with an IT requirement. Sometimes it’s seen as the same thing as a business necessity.

Let me illustrate with an example. A client told me recently they had been asked to recommend a new Internet platform; they wanted to know if this was an Architectural Requirement? More importantly, they wanted to know how to make if a more effective Architectural Requirement.

Key characteristics of an architecture requirement

TOGAF has a whole phase of the ADM, and a corresponding chapter (17) in the documentation, devoted to Architecture Requirements Management. But this doesn’t really tell you what an architecture requirement is – it merely gives a basic process for managing their documentation.

Other sections in TOGAF describe various deliverables and artifacts that document an architecture requirement. For example, these include the Architecture Vision, Architecture Definition Document, Architecture Requirements Specification, and things like a Business Scenario, Principles, or Architecture and Solution Building Blocks.

Architectural Requirement diagram

A glib answer to our question would be to say that an Architectural Requirement is described by the sum total of these deliverables and artifacts! This is certainly how TOGAF would have us document an Architectural Requirement, but it doesn’t really explain the difference between an architectural and a non-architectural requirement.

Let’s make it easier by listing the key characteristics of an architecture requirement:

To go back to our example: the client asked to recommend a new Internet platform. Their architecture requirement could be summarized as:

Obviously – this example is greatly simplified. There would need to be more detail, and in particular the arguments would need to be firmly based on complete descriptions of the current and target architectures, and the possible road-maps to make the changes. But hopefully this simplified overview has emphasized the things that form an Architectural Requirement.

One final point

Remember that this is an “architectural” requirement; if you don’t relate everything to the relevant aspects of the enterprise architecture, then it is simply a “requirement”!

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