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EA and EAM Definition

The Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a model of the enterprise’s most important elements and their relationships [ARW08]. Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) is the process of creating and using the EA [Nie08].

EA and EAM Definition

Even though a multitude of publications is available on the topics Enterprise Architecture (EA) and Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM), there is no one single definition of these terms which represents the consensus of the overall research and expert group [ARW08; Sch09; BBL12; Buc10b].

A very broad definition of the term EA was given by Aier, Rieger and Winter (2008), stating that it is a model representing the elements of an enterprise with regards to its strategy, its organization as well as its IT landscape including applications and infrastructure [ARW08]. The model aims at depicting the most important elements and their relationships to each other. Based on this model, the current state of the enterprise can be analyzed and documented. Additionally, possible future states can be explored and plans for transforming the enterprise into a desirable future state can be derived.

A further frequently cited definition of EA is provided in ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010:2011, e.g. cited in [Buc10c; Buc10b; WS08; 11b; Buc+09c; BBL12]. According to the standard, a system architecture constitutes the “fundamental concepts or properties of a system in its environment embodied in its elements, relationships, and in the principles of its design and evolution” [11a]. In the context of EAM, the system comprises the whole enterprise [BBL12]. To give some examples, the elements of an EA are e.g. organizational units, stakeholders, locations, business processes while the relationships between them can be e.g. supports, hosts, is responsible for [Buc+09c]. The principles which guide the evolution of an EA could be e.g. profit, continuity, innovation [Buc+09c].

Summarizing, EA aims at providing a picture of the holistic structure of an organization, including all its business, organization, application, information, infrastructure and data aspects [Mo13; Mat+12]. The use of this picture is to enable the understanding of the elements of an EA, which contribute to its utility, cost, time and risk within its environment [11a]. Based on this understanding the EA is transformed towards a target state [Man12; Myk+11].

Even though EA and EAM are sometimes used as synonyms [BBL12; BMS09; Buc10b], a distinction will be made in this article. Generally, EAM can be viewed as the structured approach of creating, managing and utilizing the models provided by EA [BBL12; Nie08]. This means, EAM is the process of creating an EA [Nie08].


Further topics related to EA & EAM

To further dive into the topic of EA & EAM, the following topics are recommended:

  • EA models capture the EA with the purpose of making it transparent and thus enabling informed decision making and effective EA development. More information on EA models can be found in EA model.

  • A high quality EA provides a lot of functions and benefits to IT leaders [Han12a]. Most of all, it enables a good alignment between business and IT. This is based on the fact that EAM constitutes a commonly accepted instrument to support and guide enterprise transformations which are necessary due to frequently changing business needs [Buc10b]. A list of further benefits of EAM is available in EAM Goals & Benefits.

  • An Enterprise Architect has to have many different skills. These can be EA related skills like IT portfolio management, management related skills like communication skills and leadership as well as operational IT skills which are needed to accompany IT projects [Kel11]. More information on EAM frameworks can be found in Role and Skills of an Enterprise Architect.

  • The EAM function can be implemented as an independent department or as part of the organizations’ IT or business department [Man12]. More information on EA models can be found in EAM Organization.

  • An EAM function can adhere to one or more architecture frameworks [11a]. An EAM framework comprises a predefined set of methods and tools for developing EAs and EA practice [11b]. More information on EAM frameworks can be found in EAM Framework.

  • The acceptance of the EAM activities by EA stakeholders is a critical factor for the success of an EAM endeavor [RZM14]. EA stakeholders are all the people who have any kind of concern with regards to an organizations EA [11b]. These concerns need to be addressed by models provided trough EAM. A more detailed definition of EA stakeholders and their concerns can be found in EA Stakeholders & Concerns




Aier, S., Riege, C., Winter, R. 2008. Unternehmensarchitektur - Literaturüberblick und Stand der Praxis. Wirtschaftsinformatik. 50(4):292–304.


M. Schönherr. “Towards a Common Terminology in the Discipline of Enterprise Architecture” In:ICSOC 2008, LNCS 2008. Ed. by G. Feuerlicht and W. Lamersdorf. Springer-Verlag, 2009, pp. 400–413.


S. Bente, U. Bombosch, and S. Langade. Collaborative Enterprise Architecture: Enriching EA with Lean, Agile, and Enterprise 2.0 Practices. Elsevier, Inc., 2012.


M. Mykhashchuk, S. Buckl, T. Dierl, and C. M. Schweda. “Charting the landscape of enterprise architecture management.” In: 10th International Conference on Wirtschaftsinformatik, 16th-18th February 2011, Zurich, Switzerland. 2011.


K. Niemann. “Enterprise Architecture Management and its Role in IT Governance and IT Investment Planning.” In: Advances in Government Enterprise Architecture. IGI Global, 2008, pp. 208–228.


S. Buckl. “A Design Theory Nexus for Situational Enterprise Architecture Management.” In: Proceedings of the 14th International IEEE Enterprise Distributed Object Computing Conference. IEEE Computer Society. IEEE Computer Society. Vitoria, Brazil, 2010, pp. 3–8.


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R. Winter and J. Schelp. “Enterprise architecture governance: the need for a business-to-IT approach.” In: Proceedings of the 2008 ACM symposium on Applied computing. Mar. 2008, pp. 548–552.


S. Buckl, F. Matthes, C. Neubert, and C. M. Schweda. “A Wiki-based Approach to Enterprise Architecture Documentation and Analysis.” In: 17th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS2009). Verona, Italy, 2009, pp. 1476–1487.


ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010:2011 Systems and software engineering - Architecture description, Ingenierie des systemes et des logiciels - Description de l’architecture. Standard. International Organization for Standardization, 2011.


F. Matthes, I. Monahov, A. Schneider, and C. Schulz. EAM KPI Catalog v 1.0.

Tech. rep. Munich: Chair for Software Engineering of Business Information Systems. Technische Universität München., 2012.


S. Buckl, F. Matthes, and C. M. Schweda. “A Viable System Perspective on Enterprise Architecture Management.” In: 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics. San Antonio, USA, 2009, pp. 1483–1488.