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Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF): Application Reference Model (ARM)

Business and technology resources are lined up by employing Enterprise Architecture (EA) so as to realize strategic results, augment organizational performance, and direct departments to meet their key missions more effectually and achieve Operational Excellence.

Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF) achieves these objectives for any U.S. federal agency and aids systems exceed interagency boundaries.

The FEAF comprises of 6 interconnected Reference Models, each relating to a sub-architectural domain of the framework.

Here, we deliberate on 1 of the 6 reference models of the Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework—the Application Reference Model (ARM).  ARM sets the foundation for categorizing software applications and their components.

Through the implementation of ARM, we can achieve a number of positive outcomes throughout the enterprise.  Mapping of existing and future information systems to ARM categorizations assists in detecting gaps and redundancies.  Gap detection helps identify occasions for sharing, reuse, and merging or renegotiation of licenses.  Gap information is used in conjunction with other models to identify opportunities. 

ARM has been based on guiding principles that emanate from Common Approach to Federal EA with further refinement based on the purpose and desired outcomes of the Application Reference Model.  The principles are:

  • ARM should be based on the Separation of Concerns principle i.e., founded on an adaptive structure that permits addition of new methods of providing IT capabilities.
  • Definition of ARM should be with reference to applications supplied within the Service Oriented Architecture enabling facilitation of shared services and interoperability.
  • Definition of ARM should be in terms of a hierarchy of broadly paired IT application components.
  • ARM ought to be standards based along several levels of abstraction to circumvent vendor lock-in, under permitting circumstances.
  • Ascertained touch points should enable ARM to back the Business Reference Model (BRM) and the Data Reference Model (DRM). 

ARM contains 3 levels in its structure: Systems, Application Components, and Interfaces.  ARM is also strongly connected with the rest of the 5 reference models of the Consolidated Reference Model Framework.  More on that in the FEAF: Application Reference Model presentation. 

ARM uses 3 potential methodologies in combination with one another to assist in taking advantage of information and strategizing of applications and investments:

  1. Capability Modeling and Analysis
  2. Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
  3. Portfolio Management

These 3 methods help take advantage of the information in the ARM structure as well as the agency mapping of applications and investments to it, in addition to the other Reference Models.

Let us dive a little deeper into these methods.

Capability Modeling and Analysis

Capability Modeling and Analysis is a requirements analysis technique that converts business or mission as well as technical requirements into distinct competencies that assist in sharing and reuse analysis.

Instead of employing standard requirement or business process analysis techniques, breaking down requirements into detailed capabilities, and modeling the capability dependencies, leads to a clearer picture regarding commonality of requirements.

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)

For assembly of IT solutions, a collection of interacting services enables an architectural style—SOA—a layered diagram that depicts the services and their dependencies.  SOA offers extra application flexibility due to ease of modification and replacement of services. 

Portfolio Management

Portfolio management techniques are employed to gauge assets for feasibility of use in future and to mature a service lifecycle plan for each asset thus promoting reuse and sharing of services.

Interested in learning more about the Application Reference Model (ARM)?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on FEAF: Application Reference Model (ARM) here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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