What is the Zachman Framework?

The Zachman Framework is a framework for enterprise architecture which provides a formal and highly structured way of defining an enterprise's systems architecture. It uses a grid model based around 6 basic questions:

  • What
  • How
  • Where
  • Who
  • When
  • Why

These are asked of 5 nominated stakeholder groups:

  • Planner
  • Owner
  • Designer
  • Builder
  • Subcontractor

who give an holistic view of the enterprise which is being modeled.

Often used as part of a systems architecture or enterprise level technology review exercise it is popular within IT architecture departments but has little hold of either the developer or user communities. The enterprise architecture can form an input to a firm's software architecture.

The strong points are the complete coverage gained by touching each of the cells on the matrix. The weak point is that this approach generates a lot of documentation, due to its completeness, which can be difficult to digest and sometimes of questionable utility.

Originally conceived by John Zachman at IBM in the 1980s the framework is now in the public domain. The full technical name is Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture and Information Systems Architecture.

Each cell in the table must be aligned with the cells immediately above and below it. All the cells in each row also must be aligned with each other. However, cells will not be aligned diagonally.