The lowdown on software programs

What are they? The software programs in this guide help managers collect, model and interact with information about their business processes and IT infrastructure. They also show how the two can go together. Broadly, they include everything from high-end business process and application modeling tools to desktop productivity software. Enterprise systems management tools and other IT management tools can act as a source of data.

Who uses them? Budget planners can validate IT spending levels and other budget plans. Business analysts and managers can plan budgets and search for ways to improve organizational efficiency. Managers and project leaders can map out projects.

What should I look for? First, look for support for Extensible Markup Language schemas and other aspects of the World Wide Web Consortium's XML standards.

XML will let government users connect relatively easily to the required reporting formats of the Office of Management and Budget, and it will improve interoperability with other planning and modeling tools.

Next, look for workflow capability. Enterprise architecture isn't a one-person show. It involves a complex series of interactions and validations.

You'll want efficient ways to capture information from people involved in business processes, so look for software with an easy interface.

Government agencies should check the Information Technology Investment Portfolio System (I-TIPS), at

How much do they cost? Commercial products range from about $100 per user seat into the thousands of dollars, depending on the product and configuration.

A full-scale implementation of an enterprise architecture and IT infrastructure planning tool can run well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What's next? As more enterprise architecture specifications are published in XML schema form, and the connections between organizations become more interactive, EA tools will give agencies a way to plan integrated IT operations. They could also create Web services connections between processes across organizations.

EA tools will provide better connections to business process automation systems, which can then be used to build new applications rapidly while reducing implementation costs.

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