Center of Excellence in Enterprise Architecture
Discover Enterprise Architecture
Discover Enterprise Architecture
Manage Complexity, Foster Agility and Develop Synergy in your Organization

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Enterprise Architecture: A comprehensive but practical approach

Companies are facing an environment which gets more competitive every day. Competition becomes wider and faster (everywhere and all the time). The pace of change is increasing. So does uncertainty. In this context, organizations are seeking how they can develop their agility.

IS/IT has a role to play in the development of the flexibility of the enterprise. IS/IT solutions have usually been built over time in successive generations. Consistency of the overall applications portfolio was seldom a priority. Complexity has grown in the IS/IT landscape, often hindering the development of the business instead of enabling it. Today, Enterprise Architecture appears as a key solution to set the information systems in order and align them to the business strategy.

This involves playing on several fields at the same time from business process optimization to IS/IT simplification. Many approaches exist to help in these areas but none of them is simple and comprehensive enough to provide a general answer to the problem. Our objective is to get the best out of all these initiatives to deliver a public, state-of-the-art, comprehensive yet easy to understand set of best practices to help companies in solving their complexity challenge.

Our Sponsors and Partners

The CEISAR was originally created with the sponsorship of global companies, recognized as key players in their industry. They all consider Enterprise Architecture as a key topic for the success of their operations.

Air France Axa BNPParibas Michelin Total


The CEISAR aims at delivering white papers which are practical and ready to use in companies today. Our work is not lab research but hands-on pragmatic findings from the best practices of international companies.

You will discover our white papers are very consistent as they reuse a condensed set of key concepts. We have tried to use as few terms as possible. They are available in this glossary.

Our white papers can be freely downloaded. We welcome any feed-back or contribution to make them even more useful to contact (at) ceisar.org.

You can also read the story of George The Baker for a playful introduction to the concepts of enterprise transformation.

English versions of CEISAR white papers

Theme Revision Date Title
Enteprise Modeling Download All
Enterprise Modeling October 2007 10 concepts to analyze an Enterprise System Download
Business Information Modeling October 2007 How to define Business Entities Download
Business Process Modeling April 2008 Business Process Modeling Download
Enterprise Modeling April 2008 Enterprise Modeling Download
Enterprise Modeling October 2008 Introduction to Enterprise Architecture - The Baker Tale Download
Business Information Modeling February 2009 Most common Business Entities Download
Enterprise Modeling January 2010 CEISAR Glossary Download

Enteprise Transformation Download All
Legacy Systems October 2007 How to simplify Legacy Systems Download
Legacy Systems October 2007 Rule Engine to simplify Legacy Systems Download
EA Governance April 2008 Enterprise Architecture Governance Executive Summary Download
EA Governance April 2008 Enterprise Architecture Governance Download
EA Governance April 2008 Introduction to Business value of EA Download
EA Governance April 2008 Some Enterprise Organization Scenarios Download
EA and Agility October 2008 Enterprise Architecture and Agility Download
Foundation October 2009 Some Enterprise Organization Scenarios Download
Foundation October 2009 Foundation Executive Summary Download
Foundation June 2010 Foundation Download
Transformation December 2010 Language of Transformation Download
Transformation December 2013 George The Baker Download

Livres blancs du CEISAR en français

Thème (Dernière) date de publication Titre Télécharger tout
Transformation d'Entreprise Octobre 2008 Architecture d'Entreprise et Agilité Télécharger
Modélisation d'Entreprise Janvier 2010 Glossaire CEISAR Télécharger
Transformation d'Entreprise Juin 2011 Comment intégrer des Progiciels dans une Architecture d’Entreprise - Executive Summary Télécharger
Transformation d'Entreprise Juin 2011 Comment intégrer des Progiciels dans une Architecture d’Entreprise Télécharger
Transformation d'Entreprise Juin 2012 Architecture Métier - Executive Summary Télécharger
Transformation d'Entreprise Juin 2012 Architecture Métier Télécharger
Transformation d'Entreprise Juin 2013 Impact du Cloud Computing sur l'Architecture d'Entreprise Télécharger
Transformation d'Entreprise Décembre 2013 George Le Boulanger Télécharger

Découvrez les aventures de George Le Boulanger pour une approche ludique des concepts de la Transformation d'Entreprise.

Executive Education

For Professionals

CEISAR provides courses for executive training delivered at CentraleSupelec. Our training is based on the small number of concepts we have developped and a rich set of real-life case studies.

You might enjoy sharing with other companies in one of our standard courses. Executive training can also be customized to fit your specific requirements. We are ready to build specific case studies and provide coaching after the training course to make sure our concepts deliver the value you expect on the field.

Visit CentraleSupelec Executive Education Website

For Students

The CEISAR is involved in the continuous improvment of the courses taught at Ecole Centrale Paris in Computer Science and MIS. Our students get an introduction to Enterprise Architecture featured with examples from international companies. They learn how to model and manage the complexity of the business and its related IS/IT components.

About Us

An applied research center from a top French engineering school

The Center of Excellence in Enterprise Architecture is an applied research center from CentraleSupelec, sponsored by leading international firms and delivering best practices through white papers and executive training in Enterprise Architecture.

Objectives and guiding principles

Make it simple

Most companies are facing accelerated competition in a globalized context. In this hostile environment, IT is a tremendous opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. Alas, the complexity of IT applications has often grown to an extent where IT is more a constraint to business agility rather than an enabler.

Reducing complexity in information systems is a major challenge for business and IT partners. This requires the ability to speak the same language and identify the fundamentals of the company : business basics, business and organization processes, and the related IT data and services. All this can be shared and reused and forms the heart of the architecture. Having a common architecture accross the enterprise is key to reducing complexity and restoring business agility.

With a myriad of expert groups trying to standardize a part of the equation (from enterprise architecture to SOA, BPM, MDA, ...), it is increasingly difficult to get a complete and simple picture of this topic. Our objective is not to create a new expert group which will add new concepts, rules, and advice. Based on the experience of business and IT professionals and architecture experts, the ambition of the CEISAR is to take advantage of all the good ideas which have been already delivered by existing groups, and make them accessible through standardisation of language, and formalisation of best practices.

What does the CEISAR deliver?

The CEISAR delivers white papers and executive training on best practices in enterprise and IS architecture based on real life examples from our sponsors and partners.

We believe in :

Our publications are fully public and available on the web. We hope to link with any institution willing to formalize and develop best practices in enterprise architecture.

You can contact us at : contact (at) ceisar.org


Naming things badly adds to the misfortunes of the world. (Albert Camus - 1944)


Main Terms

Task executed by an Actor.
Can be a Process or a Function or an Activity.
Recursive: an Action is decomposed into Actions. Always named by a verb.
Group of Functions of an Organized Process executed by the same Actor at the same time.
Example: taking an order and the delivery are both Activities from the same Order Process.
One who executes an Action.
A difference is made between a Human-Actor, an IT-Actor (programmable machine or "digital object") or an Assisted-Actor (when a Human-Actor and an IT-Actor are combined).
Agility and Reactivity
Agility is the ability to Transform fast and well. It enables us to reduce the time between the arrival of a new idea and its availability in the Enterprise Operations.
Reactivity is the ability to Operate fast and well.
Transformation process. We generally distinguish:
  • Linear Approach: each stage must be finished before starting on the next one (e.g., define all requirements before starting to build the Model)
  • Agile Approach: we proceed by iteration
Architecture has 2 meanings:
  • Deliverable: Architecture Description represents the structure (in the sense of structuring elements) of a Model (cf. IEEE 1471 standard).
  • Practical: Architecture Discipline represents the Transformation Processes to build the Architecture Description.
Building a Model
Action of creating a new Model or of modifying an existing Model. After being Built, the Model must be Deployed.
Business Process
Business Function chain (excluding Organization Functions) triggered by an independent Business Event and executed to deliver Value to an Actor who is the "customer" of the Process.
Example: Hire a new employee, Handle an order, Sell a Product...
Business Solution
Solution whose needs are specific to a Business, such as "Production" Solutions.
It is often a Solution that enables us to differentiate ourselves from the competition.
Enterprise Capability is what the Enterprise is capable of doing with its Resources and Models.

enterprise capability
Commodity Solution
Solution whose needs are the same in different Businesses.
E.g., Solutions for accounting, payroll...
They are relatively stable and are often implemented as Software Packages or Cloud services.
Defines what the Actor knows how to do (and not "should do"). For IT-Actors, the competence is called "Configuration".
Enterprise employee behavior Model.
One for whom the Product is intended.
A Customer regroups different roles which may or may not be carried out by the same individual or legal entity:
Part of the Transformation Process that aims to adapt the Operational Resources to the new Model that has been Built: reorganization, training, installing IT hardware, loading software, data migration, adapting the premises,...
An Enterprise is an agent that brings Value to its Customers through a Product.
It covers not only capitalistic Enterprises, but also public institutions, universities, research centers, associations...
An Enterprise may be a legal entity, a subpart of a legal entity or a network of legal entities.
Enterprise Architecture
The Enterprise Architecture Description represents the structure of the Enterprise Operation Model and Transformation Model.
It generally takes the form of maps, which provide a global view, in order to better understand a complex Model: Process Map, Entity Map, Function map and Solutions map are the most frequently used.
The Enterprise Architecture Discipline represents all the Transformation Processes and principles necessary for building the Enterprise Architecture.
A Fact is a piece of Information describing the reality either in the Operations (e.g., data on a Customer) or the Transformation (e.g., project schedule).
Function (or Rule)
Action within a Process. A Function can call other Functions. The same Function can be reused in different Processes.
A Business Function is independent of the Organization chosen by the Enterprise. Example: "verify a piece of information", "calculate a price".
An Organization Function is added to implement the Organization. Example: "verify authorization".
Groups together everything that can be reused for the common good in the Enterprise: Reusing Models is a way of creating synergy and harmonizing the work methods in the different Organization Units.
What the Enterprise would like to reach at the end of a Transformation. Not to be confused with Enterprise Model: the Goal describes "why" we Transform, whereas the new Enterprise Model contains the "how".
A Goal includes:
  • The scope: geographic, Product line, Process domain
  • The objectives (productivity, time to market, new product, new Market, new partners,...) and the related indicators
  • The constraints on the Transformation Program: budget, deadlines, extent of involvement of internal teams, Approach,...
Model of the way the outside world perceives the Enterprise (customers and prospects, partners, competitors and the authorities).
That which enables the brain to communicate, both in input and output.
A piece of information is either a Fact or a Model.
Real or virtual space where Products are exchanged. A space is defined by all or part of the following dimensions: E.g., vehicle market for seniors in Asia
Representation that simplifies the real world to better apprehend, memorize, communicate and modify it.
The Model can be global via Maps (business Entity maps, Process maps, Function maps, Block maps, Service maps...) or detailed.
Actor Model: Formalizes the Role of the Actors.
Action Model: Describes the instructions given to an Actor to ensure the proper execution of the Actions.
  • For Human-Actors, the instructions are documentation (procedures, user guide, instruction manual, recipe,...)
  • For IT-Actors, the instructions are software
  • For Assisted-Actors, the instructions are documentation + software
We distinguish:
  • the Process Model ("Sell", "Produce", "Manage")
  • the Model of the Functions which make up the Processes ("Fixing the price", "Print").
Enterprise Model: Formalizes the running of the Enterprise. It includes the Models that can be formalized:
  • The Product Model
  • The Execution Model
    • The Operation Model
    • The Transformation Model
  • The Financial Model
and the Models that cannot:
  • The Image (for outside the Enterprise)
  • The Culture (for inside the Enterprise)
The Execution Model has 3 parts:
  • The Actor Model: the Human-Actor Model is called " Roles" (Seller, Producer, Administrator), the IT-Actor Model is called " IT-Configurations" (Hardware, Software, network).
  • The Action Model
  • The Information Model of the Customer, Product, Contract, Account...
Information Model (or Data Model)
Defines the common Business language, the Object Models, their relations and inheritance.
Describes how the Objects are identified, versioned, linked together and detailed with Attributes and Types.
Operation Model
An Execution Model which describes the Operations: Production Model, Distribution Model, Resource management Model, Management Model.
Product Model
Formalizes the Product decomposition, its Utilization Model, its Production cost and the Value it brings.

offer and product model

Service Model
Formalizes the Production cost of the Service and the Value it brings.
Transformation Model
An Execution Model which describes the Transformation: to Define the Goal, Define the Architecture and Foundation, Build the Model and Deploy the Model.
Identifiable element from the real world. For example: Mr. Smith, Mr. Smith's Contract, Mr. Smith's Account...
A Business Object is required for the Business, independently of the Enterprise Organization. Example: Product, Customer, Contract or Account.
An Organization Object is required for the Organization of the work. Example: Organizational Unit, Position, Rights, Duty, Role.
What the Enterprise Distributes. The Offer Model is made up of:
  • the Product(s) or Service(s) that constitute(s) the Offer
  • the conditions of the Offer (cost, eligibility)
  • the Value the Offer brings
All the Processes and Resources that contribute to delivering the Product to the Customer: essentially, Produce, Distribute, manage the Resources and Drive the Enterprise.
Organizational Unit (or Unit)
Node of the hierarchical structure of an Enterprise like Management, Department, Branch.
The smallest Organizational Unit is that of Position, to which we can only allocate one Actor.
Example: "Sales rep N°2 in branch X", "Assistant to the CEO".
The Human-Actors and IT-Actors are assigned to Organizational Units.
Organized Process
Set of Business Process Functions triggered by an Organization Event.
Example: the Business Process "Manage a Customer Order" can be expressed in two Organized Processes "Get the Customer Order" triggered by the Event "Customer inquiry" and " Deliver the Products" triggered by the Event "The truck is full".
Object which brings Value to the Customer.
A Product can be Goods (like a car or a sandwich or electricity), or Information (like News, customer data or a Model), or a Service.
Goods and Information are stockable, a Service is not.
A Product line is a set of similar Product Models.

offer typology
Means that are required to execute Operation and Transformation Models.
They are first and foremost the Actors: Human-Actors and IT-Actors, but also the Information, financial means, premises, Components, supplies and equipment.
Reusable Component
Model elements that can be assembled to build more important Models. There are 2 types of Components:
  • Product Components which are part of the Product Model
  • Solution Components which are part of the Operation Model
Reuse and Sharing
Definition of the Shared Resources or Reusable Models grouped together in the "Foundation".
Rights and duties of an Actor. Not to be confused with an Actor's Competence.
Coherent grouping of Action Models and Information Models. A Solution is both
  • software for the IT-Actors, called "Application"
  • documentation for the Human-Actors describing Processes and Functions
Solutions have different levels of granularity: for example, a CRM Solution gathers together Processes, whereas a Pricing Solution gathers together Functions.
Solution Component
Model element which is reusable by different Solutions: Class, Function, information model, type, pattern…
Distinguish the Black Component (public interface, hidden implementation like a "black box") from the White Component (inheritance, types, patterns).
Creation/Modification of an Enterprise Model and adaption of the Operational Resources to this Model.
Transformation Tools
Tools to support the execution of the Transformation Functions.
E.g., Tools for simulation, mapping, requirements management, Process modeling, analysis/design, Development, programming, quality control, collaborative work, tests, configuration management, documentation, integration...
What the Customer seeks: satisfy the basic needs, security, knowledge, image, simplicity, comfort, power, pleasure,...
The basic Value includes the essential functionalities of a Product or Service: a vehicle enables us to get about with a certain degree of comfort, safety and performance.

product value
Presentation of a part of a Model adapted to an Actor. The same Model has to offer different views: one for the Business expert, one for the IT developer, one of the operational actor, one for the architect...
The Vision describes the Transformation Goal (why are we Transforming?) and the new Enterprise Model, which enables this Goal to be satisfied (the new Offer Model, Operation Model, the new Image or the new Culture).