ArchiMate Elements

The main reason that AIM can generate valuable content without a lot of prompting is because of the ArchiMate palette.

This provides a wide depth and breadth of semantics that cover most of the types of content you might want to generate.

If it doesn’t have an exact match for the item that you want to generate, then it will have something that is likely close enough.

It is worth familiarising yourself with the ArchiMate palette set so that it is easier for you to create valuable combinations of elements in AIM when generating content.

ArchiMate Layers

The ArchiMate palette is organised into layers. They are:

Strategy – includes elements like capability, course of action, and value stream. Used to provide the context against which strategic planning occurs and develop the high-level roadmap for the organisation.

Motivation – includes elements like stakeholders, goals, drivers, and value. It is used to establish “what’s the problem?”, “what does good look like?”

Business – used to define how the business works in a logical sense. Includes elements like business actors, functions, information, and events

Application – used to define how the application layer works. Includes elements like application components, interfaces, e.g. REST, UI, web services, etc., application data, and integration.

Technology – used to define the underlying network and computing infrastructure used by the application layer.

Implementation – used to define how the business and IT are modified from the current state to some future state. Includes elements like work packages, deliverables, and roadmaps (plateaus)

Physical – used to define the physical plant, machinery and resources the business uses.

Other – provides the Location and Grouping elements that are often helpful when constructing views.

All ArchiMate elements fall into one of the above categories.

ArchiMate Layer Usage

When creating content, some core conventions are helpful. Still, ArchiMate is a language for creating Architecture sentences, so if you find a combination of elements helpful for planning, then it is probably ok to use.

Some common conventions and thought processes for creating content are explained here: ArchiMate Design Concepts and ArchiMate Design Fragments.

The core relationships between layers are:

  • The technology layer provides the infrastructure the Application layer runs on, so traceability should be through these layers.
  • The application layer provides the services and interfaces that the Business layer runs on, so there should be traceability through these layers.
  • You shouldn’t create models until you are clear on “What’s the problem?” and “What does good look like?”. Most of the elements to model this are in the Motivation and, to some extent, the Strategy layer.
  • You should strive to develop the Implementation layer just as much as the Business, Application, and Technology layers because a design is useless without explaining how to get from the current state to the target state and having socialized and agreed with the people who will do the work.

ArchiMate Elements

Motivation layer

ElementDescriptionExample
StakeholderThe role of an individual, team, or organization (or classes thereof) that represents their interests in the outcome of the architecture.CEO, Customer, Regulator
DriverSomething that creates, motivates, and fuels the change in an organization.Market Competition, Regulatory Compliance, Technological Innovation
AssessmentThe outcome of an analysis of the state of affairs of the enterprise concerning some drivers.SWOT Analysis, Risk Assessment, Gap Analysis
GoalAn end state that a stakeholder intends to achieve.Increase Market Share, Improve Customer Satisfaction, Enhance Brand Reputation
RequirementA restriction on how the architecture can be realized.Scalability Requirement, Security Requirement, Performance Requirement
ConstraintA result that has been achieved.Budget Constraint, Legal Constraint, Time Constraint
PrincipleA statement of need that the architecture must meet.Interoperability Principle, Privacy Principle, Modularity Principle
OutcomeAn end result that has been achieved.Increased Revenue, Reduced Operating Costs, Improved Employee Morale
MeaningThe knowledge or expertise present in an information object.Business Rule, Compliance Directive
ValueThe relative worth, utility, or importance of a motivational, internal active structure, or passive structure element.ROI, Market Share Value, Customer Satisfaction Value
Motivation layer elements

Strategy layer

These elements support strategy modelling and relate the enterprise’s strategy with the other architecture domains. They can be used to model what the organization needs to do to execute its strategy.

ElementDescriptionExample
ResourceAn asset owned or controlled by an individual or organization.Budget, Human Resources, Physical Infrastructure
CapabilityAn ability that an active structure element, such as an organization, person, or system, possesses.Analytical Capability, Innovation Capability, Operational Efficiency
Course of ActionAn approach or plan for configuring some capabilities and resources of the enterprise, undertaken to achieve a goal.Expand to New Markets, Improve Customer Service, Reduce Operating Costs
Value StreamA sequence of activities that create an overall result for a customer, stakeholder, or end user.Order to Cash, Idea to Product, Hire to Retire
Strategy layer elements

Business Layer

CategoryElementDescriptionExample
Active Structure ElementsBusiness ActorAn organizational entity that is capable of performing the behaviour.CEO, Marketing Department, Customer
Business RoleAn organizational entity that is capable of performing behaviour.Database Administrator, Sales Representative, Customer Service Agent
Business CollaborationAn aggregate of two or more business roles that perform collective behaviour.Project Team, Committee
Business InterfaceA point of access where business services are made available to the environment.Service Desk, Webshop
An aggregate of two or more business roles that work together to perform collective behaviour.Business ProcessBehaviour ElementsOrder Processing, Complaint Handling
Business FunctionA sequence of business behaviours that achieves a specific outcome.Customer Relations, HR Management
Business InteractionA collection of business behaviour based on a chosen set of criteria.Meeting, Negotiation
Business EventAn explicitly defined exposed business behaviour.Sale Event, Contract Signed
Business ServiceA unit of collective business behaviour performed by roles or collaborations.Customer Information, Order Handling
Passive Structure ElementsBusiness ObjectA concept used within a particular business domain.Purchase Order, Invoice
ProductA coherent collection of services and/or passive structure elements.Insurance Policy, Mobile Banking Service
ContractA formal or informal specification of an agreement between a provider and a consumer.Lease Agreement, Service Level Agreement
RepresentationA perceptible form of information.Report, Data File
Business layer elements

Application layer

CategoryElementDescriptionExample
Active Structure ElementsApplication ComponentAn aggregate of two or more application components that perform collective behavior.CRM System, Billing Module, Mobile Banking App
Application CollaborationBehaviour ElementseCommerce Suite, Document Management System
Application InterfaceA point of access where application services are made available to a user, another application component, or a node.RESTful API, Graphical User Interface
A unit of application behaviour that is part of an application process.Application FunctionA sequence of application behaviours that achieves a specific outcome.Calculate Risk, Generate Report
Application ProcessA sequence of application behaviors that achieves a specific outcome.Payment Processing, Order Fulfillment
Application InteractionA modular and deployable part of a software system that encapsulates its behaviour and data.Transaction Processing, Data Synchronization
Application EventA unit of collective application behaviour performed by collaborations.New Order Submitted, Payment Received
Application ServiceSomething that happens and influences application behaviour.Customer Information Service, Payment Processing Service
Passive Structure ElementsData ObjectAn explicitly defined exposed application behaviour.Customer Database, Sales Records, Product Catalog
Application layer elements

Technology layer

CategoryElementDescriptionExample
Active Structure ElementsNodeA computational or physical resource that hosts, manipulates, or interacts with other computational or physical resources.Web Server, Database Server, Router
DeviceA physical IT resource upon which system software and artifacts may be stored or that can execute them.Laptop, Smartphone, Printer
System SoftwareA software environment for specific types of components and objects that it controls.Operating System, Database Management System, Hypervisor
Technology CollaborationA point of access where a node can access technology services.Cluster, Load Balancer Set
Technology InterfaceBehaviour ElementsNetwork API, Device Driver
An aggregate of two or more nodes that perform collective technology behaviour.Technology FunctionA collection of technology behaviour that a node can perform.Data Transmission, Data Processing
Technology ProcessAn aggregate of two or more nodes that perform collective technology behavior.Network Routing, Load Balancing
Technology InteractionA sequence of technology behaviours that achieves a specific outcome.Database Replication, Data Backup
Technology EventSomething that happens (internally or externally) and influences technology behavior.System Failure, Network Intrusion
Technology ServiceA unit of collective technology behaviour performed by (a collaboration of) two or more nodes.Storage Service, Processing Service
Passive Structure ElementsArtifactA piece of data produced or used by a software program or the physical representation of a piece of data.Script File, Database Table, Compiled Code
PathA link between two or more nodes, through which these nodes can exchange data or material.Network Connection, Bus
Communication NetworkA set of structures that connects computer systems or other electronic devices for transmission, routing and reception of data or data-based communications such as voice and video.Local Area Network, Wide Area Network, Internet
Technology layer elements

Implementation and Migration Layer

Note that these concepts are often mapped to specific elements in the Business, Application, and Technology layers for implementation and migration. For example, a Work Package might involve specific Business Processes or Technology Services.

ElementDescriptionExample
Work PackageA series of actions are identified and designed to achieve specific results within specified time and cost parameters.System Upgrade Project, New Office Setup, Data Migration
DeliverableA precisely defined outcome of a work package.Project Plan, System Documentation, Training Material
PlateauA series of actions is identified and designed to achieve specific results within specified time and cost parameters.Current State Architecture, Future State Architecture
GapA statement of difference between two plateaus.Gap in System Capabilities, Gap in Business Process Performance
Implementation EventAn event that triggers or is triggered by the execution of a work package or a deliverable.Project Kick-off, Milestone Achievement, Project Closure
Implementation and migration layer elements

Physical layer

These elements are used to model the physical aspects of IT infrastructure and the physical equipment, facilities, and distribution networks an organisation uses to support its business processes.

ElementDescriptionExample
EquipmentOne or more physical machines, tools, or instruments that can create, use, store, move, or transform materials.Manufacturing Equipment, Laboratory Instruments
FacilityA physical structure or environment.Data Center, Office Building, Factory
Distribution NetworkA physical network used to transport materials or energy.Electricity Grid, Water Supply Network, Highway
MaterialTangible physical matter or physical elements.Product Inventory, Natural Gas, Data Storage Medium
Physical layer elements

Other layer

The ArchiMate specification includes a few additional elements that don’t fit neatly into the other layers or aspects. These are often used to show how the elements of an architecture relate to each other or external entities. Here are these elements, along with descriptions and examples:

ElementDescriptionExample
GroupingA collection of elements to be treated as a whole. Can group elements of any type, including other Grouping elements.A grouping of related Business Processes, a grouping of Services offered to a particular market segment
LocationA point or extent in space by an organization. It can show where behaviour is performed or where objects are stored, used, or produced.Office locations, Server locations, Retail outlet