ArchiMate 3.0: Relationships

A comprehensive set of templates, stencils and a meta-model to support ArchiMate modeling in your organization

Another area where ArchiMate 3.0 has seen significant work are relationships. Since the release of the previous version, it had become increasingly clear among circles within the enterprise architecture world that the standard was quite restrictive in certain aspects. This was hurting the ability of architects and analysts to model the realities of their practices. As a result, the release of ArchiMate 3.0 saw a trend of softening the stringent rules that had previously been in force.

 

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The first thing that you need to know is the use of cross-layer relationships has been greatly relaxed. This means we no longer have a situation where the direction of action is solely bottom-up. For instance, in this version of the standard architects can model all former Used By relationships to go from any layer to any layer. In addition, the Used By relationship is now called Serving relationship. The change was made because its passive name went against the logical direction of the relationship, which created confusion.

In terms of graphical notation, the Influence and Assignment relationships have been changed to make them better integrated with the rest of the notations. While these can still be used in their old form, users are discouraged to do so.

Influence in ArchiMate 2.1

ArchiMate 2.1 Influence

Influence in ArchiMate 3.0

ArchiMate 3.0 Influence

Assignment in ArchiMate 2.1

ArchiMate 2.1 Assignment

Assignment in ArchiMate 3.0

ArchiMate 3.0 Influence

Moving down the list of enhancements, the possibility to model relationships to relationships is another departure from ArchiMate 2.1. The meta-model in ArchiMate 3.0 allows users to aggregate relationships within plateaus or a grouping, to associate objects with flows, as well as derive relationships more easily thanks to the framework being simplified. This way, you can be specific when it comes to showing what is flowing between certain elements, or which relationships belong to a certain plateau. The creators have also added a new junction, the Or-junction, which stands for a fork in the path of a business process. This move essentially aims to offer users a little more manoeuvring space for those borderline situations when BPMN is too detailed for the job, but ArchiMate feels a bit light in options. The number of relationships that are allowed junctions has increased as well. 

ArchiMate 3.0 OR Junction

The Or-junction (empty dot)

In ArchiMate 3.0, groupings no longer have a solely graphical/auxiliary function. A grouping has an Aggregation/Composition relationship with its contents. So, when a number of elements are placed together in a group, the implication is they necessarily come together to achieve a clear purpose. In addition, the concept of Location has left the Business Layer and become generic. Its relationship to elements that reside on it is now one of Aggregation, instead of Assignment. Location and Grouping now form the Composite class of elements.

To sum up, here are the main modifications to the Relationships area:

  • Relaxed the use of cross-layer relationships
  • The Used By relationship becomes the Serving relationship
  • The Influence and Assignment relationships have updated notations
  • Users can model relationships to relationships
  • The introduction of the Or-junction and an increase in the number of relationships allowed junctions
  • Grouping has an Aggregation/Composition relationship with contents
  • Location is a generic concept and it aggregates elements residing in it; together with Grouping it forms a newly created Composite class of elements

You can read more about the changes in ArchiMate 3.0 using the links below:

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