GDPR – New Capabilities for Ongoing Management

Now we have all captured our GDPR data, the next two major questions are:

  1. How do I understand where changes in my organisation impact my GDPR position?
  2. How do I provide the regulator with the data needed for reporting?

Unsurprisingly, being architects, we thought about these issues during the development of the Essential GDPR solution and have the answers immediately to hand!

  1. How do I understand how changes in my organisation impact my GDPR position?
    Use the Essential GDPR PIA (Data Protection Impact Assessment) view to analyse the impact of change on new or existing applications and processes. The view will identify where you need to seek advice from your legal team regarding the data you are processing.
  2. How do I provide the regulator with the data needed for reporting?

The FCA have provided a spreadsheet template that they will require organisations to complete and return to them.  At 30 columns wide, with detail required to a data object level for each process, this will be quite some undertaking – even if you have captured all the data required – and we are seeing thousands of rows at some of our clients.  Essential GDPR allows you to export your GDPR data directly into the spreadsheet and download a completed copy.  Essential GDPR captures and completed two-thirds of the key data required, saving considerable time and allowing a speedy response to the FCA.

View a demo of  Essential GDPR or contact us to arrange a demo.


Why Organisations are Moving to Essential

In the past couple of months, we’ve had an increasing number of enquiries and sign ups from clients that are moving to Essential from other, well known, tools.  At least a couple have reported spending in the £m’s over the first year to 18 months with the result that they are only able to report simple lists of things!  They are frustrated by the inflexibility and high costs and have selected Essential not only because of its low-cost base, but also because they see how it enables them to support the CxO and succeed in their own role.

The most common reasons they give us for switching to Essential are:

  • Meta Model Limitations – many clients have been sold the ‘benefits’ of a simple meta model, however, once they have captured any amount of data the realisation hits that this just limits what they are able to understand about their organisation. They are genuinely impressed by the depth of Essential’s meta model and the rigour and thought that has gone into its development – allowing detailed understanding with minimum data.  Equally, they find the ability to extend the meta model in minutes refreshing, advising that in many tools this is perceived as a major development.
  • Technical Views – clients have found that the views are not suitable for conveying the architecture analysis and decisions to CxOs, meaning time must be spent creating high level presentations for CxO meetings. They feel the Essential views allow them to speak both up and down the organisational hierarchy, engaging the CXOs and the wider teams directly.
  • Reporting Limitations – clients report that they were sold on the idea of flexible reporting and visualisation but often find that actually these are limited in substance and measurable benefit, as well as being extremely time consuming and costly to alter or add to. They tell us they love the look and feel of the Essential views as much as the real benefits they bring to them in their role; and the fact that they can easily alter, amend and create new views using the Essential framework after a day’s training or less is a real plus.
  • EA Support – Despite promises during the sales process, they have found other tools unable to really support their day to day architecture work. In Essential, they like the decision support given by views such as Design Authority, Principles Compliance, NIST, Application Comparison, Business Application Footprint to name a few.  They also like the views aimed at senior management that enable them to demonstrate and explain their decisions, such as Business Strategy Footprint, IT Asset Dashboard and so on.
  • Practising Architects – they like the fact that we, in EAS, are all practising architects; we understand the power of a strong, flexible meta-model; we base our view design on our experiences of taking on roles such as Chief Architects and Lead Architects in client organisations; we understand their issues and how best to resolve them – whether using Essential or not!

Coupled with the fact that Essential is a fraction of the price of most commercial tools, the switch seems obvious.

Interestingly, we recently saw an infographic from Gartner – ‘Can your EA Tool do that?’

If you’ve seen Essential I think you’ll agree it ticks all the boxes!  If not, click here to see some videos explaining how Essential can support you or a demo of the Essential Viewer.

6.2 Release

We’ve release Essential Architecture Manager 6.2 which is a minor upgrade to the Essential Viewer and the Essential Meta Model.

We’ve aligned the names of core views with their repository definitions and fixed a couple of minor view bugs.  The major change is the addition of costs_for_element and revenues_for_element against all classes, which allows you to put cost and revenues against anything, opening up the potential for a number of cost views to be created.

For Cloud users – this is available in your update folder.

For Open Source Users visit our downloads page

Essential Launchpad V2

The Essential Launchpad has been very well received by our community and so we have taken the opportunity to extend it into the technology layer and populate a couple of new views that we think are key.

The IT Asset Dashboard gives a high-level view across an organisation from the business, through the application layer and right down to technologies used, highlighting use, duplication and legacy risk.

The Application Footprint Comparison view allows you to compare the footprint of two application across your business, so you can see which services are provided by which applications in support of business capabilities.

The standard technology catalogues and summaries are also populated across the technology layer.

There are some additional worksheets in the spreadsheet and an EUP (Essential Update Pack) to apply.  Just contact us here if you are interested and we will send you a zip file that contains everything you need.

Essential Launchpad

To help organisations quick start their data capture in Essential we’ve created the Essential Launchpad – a free and easy method to capture the data required to populate some of the key foundational views in Essential.

The focus is on allowing you to gain an understanding of the business landscape, how your applications support the business, and the application deployments.   We’ve provided the spreadsheets and import specs to build a base architecture with a number of the key views working.  You can use this as the basis for populating the other views in Essential.  Keep an eye on our videos page as we are constantly adding more ‘how to’s’ and will be providing some more meta model diagrams to help you get views working, most of which are anchored off the data captured in the Essential Launchpad

To see screenshots of the views that are populated and to register to receive the Essential Launchpad FREE, see here.


Repository Data Management

We’ve released a new set of views to labs that help you manage the quality and completeness of data in your repository.  This is a key requirement in understanding where there are gaps and issues with the data you’ve entered that will affect the accuracy of the views provided by Essential.  You can see and play around with the views in the demo viewer under the Repository Data Management Portal, and if you want to apply them to your own repository you can download them from labs.  The views are accurate, but the usability may need some tweaking – comments welcome and do let us know if you find any bugs.

The views are:

Data Completeness

Shows the completeness of slots in a given class.  This is really useful if, for instance, you wanted to understand which processes support given business capabilities, you need to have completed the realises business capability slot in your processes – this view will quickly show the % completed for the class and for which processes it is not completed.

(Note – you need to switch off the tabs before you move to the next tab – blame the developer, I’m sure that’ll change when it leaves labs!)

Data Duplication Dashboard

Shows the level of duplication for the key classes across your repository.  You can change the sensitivity to highlight similarities that may be duplicates.  You can dive into the detail by clicking on the number of one of the key classes or by selecting a class from the Class Data Duplication view.

We have also released a Design Authority support view to labs.  This allows project and change teams to record the applications and/or technology products they are using and the principles they are complying with, and issues a pass or waiver required result.  This is designed to allow projects to self-govern where allowed to speed decisions and reduce unnecessary meeting time, you can see this in the Enterprise Architect Portal in the demo viewer.

Again, any suggestions or comments very welcome! These are in labs, so if you find bugs, please do let us know.

View Documentation

In response to popular demand we’ve started to create videos to demonstrate how to populate the views.  We’re working through the most popular views, ignoring those where there is an existing view manual as, although not quite as elegant as the videos, documentation does exist.  We’ve created a video and a meta model diagram for each – most will be demonstrated in Essential Cloud, with some on Essential Open Source, but please note that as the meta model and views are shared they can be used interchangeably.  The videos can be found here.

It may take a little while to do them all as there are over 120 now, however, if you would like us to prioritise a particular view, just let us know and we will push it up the list.

Enterprise Architecture Firm of the Year 2018

We are delighted to announce that, for the second year running, EAS has won top place in Corporate Live Wires’ Innovation & Excellence Awards.  Following on from receiving the award for Innovation in Enterprise Architecture 2017, this year we have been named as Enterprise Architecture Firm of the Year 2018 based on Essential and our consulting work around it.

The Innovation & Excellence Awards are judged by a panel of industry experts following nominations from the wider community.  The Essential Project, the world’s most popular open-source EA Tool, is now available as SaaS through Essential Cloud.  EAS, Essential’s founders, are all practising architects and we continue to extend and improve Essential by listening to our clients and our community and reacting to their needs.  We were first to exploit the connection between the information required for EA and GDPR and launch a GDPR support pack, bringing massive benefits to both the Compliance and EA Teams within an organisation.

We are continuing to develop Essential to support our customers and our community; look out for our innovative data capture and maintenance solution which will ease the burden of data management and revolutionise EA!

The EUs Gift to Enterprise Architects

Interesting article from John – ‘The EUs gift to Enterprise Architects‘ – discusses how EAs can make best use of the data that GDPR is forcing organisations to collect and keep updated, to increase credibility and value to the business.  Essential’s GDPR Monitoring pack uses this information to provide GDPR support, but also harnesses this data to allow analysis of more traditional EA fare, such as APM, Data Management and so on.  See a demo here, and our ‘5 Steps to Effective GDPR Monitoring‘ blog here.


Essential Version 6.1.1 Released

Essential v6.1.1 is now available from the downloads section of the website.

We’ve promoted some of the views that we’ve been trying out in the labs, including the NIST mapping and a couple of Business Capability to Technology views.  We’ve also enhanced some of the OOtB views, such as the Business Process Model, the Business Capability Model and the Technology Platform Model.  Meta Model extensions include a new class of ‘Business Process Family’ to make it easier to model and analyse standard and non-standard processes.

Full details of all the changes can be found in the release notes.