Archimate for Organization chart | pros and cons

During the design of the Business Architecture, in TOGAF, we have to outline the structure of the organization, including the description of how human resources are assigned to roles, organizational units, locations.

The structural element representing the organizational unit in Archimate is the Business Actor. As the standard says, a Business Actor may be “a human, a department, or a business unit”.

This is the main building block of our organization structure design, and can be enough if you want to limit yourself to the traditional hierarchical organization chart. Following this approach, you will find perhaps a missing element: a taxonomy that helps you classify the different elements.

Simple Organization chart with Archimate
This simple vertical organization shows some of the problems and possible solutions:
  • the sales organization is a business unit, with a manager; we suppose that the manager will be a single person.
  • There are more Area Manager; the composition relation shows that the Sales Manager is their direct boss. Again, this “Actor” will perhaps be a single person, but there will be more people in this role, each of them assigned to a different geographical area.
  • Within each “Area”, there are separate managers for each “Product”. All the Product Managers of an Area will report to the Are Manager. The geographical dimension appear to be the prevalent one.
  • Perhaps there is also an orthogonal Product dimension; we can imagine that there is a global Product Manager, it’s not represented here, but is clearly possible.
  • There is a single back office unit, working for the whole sales organization.
Using this really limited set of elements from Archimate, we were indeed able to represent the basic hierarchical organization. Some of the relationships among business units, and the kind of each unit, are somehow ambiguous, requiring an explicative narrative. This is not good, because a modeling standard should be able to represent a situation without disambiguation.
Other modeling standards, such as BPMN, provide the designer with some attributes that are specific for extensions. Archimate includes a generic extension mechanism, trough “attributes” for specific elements, included in a “profile”, or using specialization of standard concepts.
We will see later how to accomplish this, adding some more elements to the model.

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