Architecture Contracts

Role | Contents | Relationship to Architecture Governance

This chapter provides guidelines for defining and using Architecture Contracts.


Architecture Contracts are the joint agreements between development partners and sponsors on the deliverables, quality, and fitness-for-purpose of an architecture. Successful implementation of these agreements will be delivered through effective architecture governance (see Architecture Governance). By implementing a governed approach to the management of contracts, the following will be ensured:

The traditional Architecture Contract is an agreement between the sponsor and the architecture function or IS department. However, increasingly more services are being provided by systems integrators, applications providers, and service providers, co-ordinated through the architecture function or IS department. There is therefore a need for an Architecture Contract to establish joint agreements between all parties involved in the architecture development and delivery.

Architecture Contracts may occur at various stages of the Architecture Development Method (ADM); for example:

It is important to bear in mind in all these cases that the ultimate goal is not just an enterprise architecture, but a dynamic enterprise architecture; i.e., one that allows for flexible evolution in response to changing technology and business drivers, without unnecessary constraints. The Architecture Contract is crucial to enabling a dynamic enterprise architecture.

Typical contents of these three kinds of Architecture Contract are explained below.


Statement of Architecture Work

The Statement of Architecture Work is created as a deliverable of Phase A, and is effectively an Architecture Contract between the architecting organization and the sponsor of the enterprise architecture (or the IT governance function, on behalf of the enterprise).

Typical contents of a Statement of Architecture Work are:

Contract between Architecture Design and Development Partners

This is a signed statement of intent on designing and developing the enterprise architecture, or significant parts of it, from partner organizations, including systems integrators, applications providers, and service providers.

Increasingly the development of one or more architecture domains (Business, Data, Applications, Technology) may be contracted out, with the enterprise's architecture function providing oversight of the overall enterprise architecture, and co-ordination and control of the overall effort. In some cases even this oversight role may be contracted out, although most enterprises prefer to retain that core responsibility in-house.

Whatever the specifics of the contracting-out arrangements, the arrangements themselves will normally be governed by an Architecture Contract that defines the deliverables, quality, and fitness-for-purpose of the developed architecture, and the processes by which the partners in the architecture development will work together.

Typical contents of an Architecture Design and Development Contract are:

The template for this contract will normally be defined as part of the Preliminary Phase of the ADM, if not existing already, and the specific contract will be defined at the appropriate stage of the ADM, depending on the particular work that is being contracted out.

Contract between Architecting Function and Business Users

This is a signed statement of intent to conform with the enterprise architecture, issued by enterprise business users. When the enterprise architecture has been implemented (at the end of Phase G), an Architecture Contract will normally be drawn up between the architecting function (or the IT governance function, subsuming the architecting function) and the business users who will subsequently be building and deploying application systems in the architected environment.

Typical contents of a Business Users' Architecture Contract are:

This contract is also used to manage changes to the enterprise architecture in Phase H.

Relationship to Architecture Governance

The Architecture Contract document produced in Phase G of the ADM figures prominently in the area of architecture governance, as explained in Part IV: Resource Base, Architecture Governance .

In the context of architecture governance, the Architecture Contract is often used as a means of driving architecture change.

In order to ensure that the Architecture Contract is effective and efficient, the following aspects of the governance framework may need to be introduced into Phase G:

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