For distributed teams, many of the same best practices apply as for centralized Enterprise Architecture. For example, it is important to have a formal, dedicated Enterprise Architecture team directly reporting to an executive sponsor, even if the team is physically distributed. To ensure efficiency, certain roles should be independent of the outsourcing contractor, such as Process architects, Solution Architects etc.. The enterprise should have knowledgeable professionals on its staff to provide essential checks and balances on outsourcedwork.
Achieving clear communications is a fundamental challenge in distributed teams. Use of modeling languages such as the Object Management Group's UML and BPMN, should be the basis for communicating Enterprise Architecture as well as technical designs. New standards such as the Business Motivation Model (BMM), Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules (SVBR) and the UML 2.0 extensions are available to formalize additional elements of architecture views and specifications. Enterprise Architecture artifacts should be available via a secure, version controlled, distributed repository. The repository helps assure that the global team has a common view of the project's specifications and is working from the appropriate artifact versions.
Choose a common Enterprise Architecture framework for the distributed team that is matched to the enterprise needs. It may be necessary to have multiple framework profiles to address the needs of complex enterprises, e.g. diverse conglomerate corporations. The Enterprise Architecture team should identify specific types of artifacts for the framework, and maintain documented modeling conventions. The artifacts should particularly address communications across distributed team boundaries. For example, a richer set of specification types for communicating requirements from onsite business analysts and user interface designers, than for communications within a co-located offshore team.
Figure Translating Models Between Levels of Elaboration
It is recommended that the Enterprise Architecture team review, approve, and standardize the methodology for translating specifications to designs and implementations to avoid loss of information. The OMG Model Driven Architecture (MDA) is a guideline defining explicit stages of model translation. MDA defines four stages of elaboration, the Computation Independent Model, Platform Independent Model, Platform Specific Model and code. MDA also defines standards for transforming the models and defining the linkages between the translated forms.
For example, figure (above) shows a distributed Enterprise Architecture and implementation project with onsite and offshore model transformations and linkages in an architecture-centric development methodology. There is a need to establish well defined transformations between views of the enterprise architecture, the solution architecture and the technical architecture of the system ensuring traceability of architecture constraints and requirements to implementations. Enterprise Architecture processes should ensure that each project aligns with the IT vision of the enterprise, adhering to architecture governance guidelines and metrics.