What is New in ArchiMate 3.1 (released in 11/2019)?

The ArchiMate Specification, an Open Group Standard, is an open and independent modeling language for Enterprise Architecture modeling. This article provides a highlight on what is new in the ArchiMate 3.1 Specification which is a minor update to the ArchiMate 3.01 published in June August 2017.

Purpose of ArchiMate

  • The ArchiMate language enables Enterprise Architects to describe, analyze, and visualize the relationships among architecture domains in an unambiguous way.
  • Just like an architectural drawing in classical building architecture describes the various aspects of the construction and use of a building.
  • The ArchiMate language offers a common language for describing the construction and operation of business processes, organizational structures, information flows, IT systems, and technical and physical infrastructure.
  • ArchiMate models enable stakeholders to design, assess, and communicate the consequences of decisions and changes within and between these architecture domains.

The 3 Minor Update

Despite being ‘just’ a minor version update, it holds a number of useful additions and improvements for Enterprise Architecture practitioners.

The three most important improvements to the standard are:

  1. The addition of a value stream element
  2. The introduction of a directed notation for association
  3. Further formalization and refinement of the rules for deriving relationships

What is Value Stream Element?

Value streams are typically realized by business processes and possibly other core behavior elements. The stages in a value stream provide a framework for organizing and defining business processes, but different parts of the organization may have their own implementations of business processes that realize the same value stream stage. Conversely, one business process may realize multiple stages in a value stream.

Value Steam Element Notation

Value Stream represents a sequence of activities that create an overall result for a customer, stakeholder, or end-user.

ArchiMate symbol value stream

Value streams may be defined at different levels of the organization; e.g., at the enterprise level, business unit level, or department level. Value streams can be a composition or aggregation of value-adding activities. These are also modeled with the value stream element and are known as value (stream) stages, each of which creates and adds incremental value from one stage to the next. These stages are typically related using flow relationships to model the flow of value between them. Resources can be assigned to value streams and capabilities can serve (i.e., enable) a value stream.

1.      Value Stream Example of Capability-Mapping in ArchiMate 3.1

The example below shows a model of a high-level value stream for an insurance company, where each stage in the value stream is served by a number of capabilities. Between these stages, we see the value flows with associated value items, and at the end the business outcome that this value stream realizes for a particular stakeholder.

Between the stages of the value stream, we see the value flows with associated value added by each stage, and at the end the business outcome of ‘well-founded decision-making’ that this value stream realizes for a particular stakeholder. Each stage in the value stream requires a number of capabilities, shown below the stages and also exhibiting how you can use the improved grouping concept to model this cross-mapping efficiently.

Resources can be assigned to value streams and capabilities can serve (i.e., enable) a value stream. This supports the common technique of capability–value stream cross-mapping, where you identify which capabilities the enterprise needs or uses to support the stages in a value stream.

ArchiMate value stream example

2. Directed Association

The addition of a directed association relationship is a small improvement with great potential. One common use-case is to express navigability. An association relationship is always allowed between two elements, or between a relationship and an element. The association relationship can be used when drawing a first high-level model where relationships are initially denoted in a generic way, and later refined to show more specific relationship types.

  • An association is undirected by default but may be directed.
    ArchiMate directed and undirected association

For example that an insurance policy refers to the insured asset but not the other way around.

ArchiMate directed association

Directed Association Example – Insurance Policy

The Example below illustrates two directed association relationships between a contract and two business objects to which this contract refers. It also shows an association between a flow relationship and this contract, to indicate the kind of information that is communicated between the two functions.

ArchiMate directed association example

3. Derivation of Relationships

In the ArchiMate language, you can derive indirect relationships between elements in a model, based on the modeled relationships. This makes it possible to abstract from intermediary elements that are not relevant to show in a certain model or view of the architecture and supports impact analysis. This is a more specialized subject that for most of you will be hidden inside your ArchiMate tools. These additions in ArchiMate 3.1 specification also introduces refined rules for the derivation of relationships.

For example, if A contains B and B contains C, A by definition contains C (using the composition relationship). This derivation is always valid.

ArchiMate derivation of relationships

Derivation of relationships is intended as a way to create summaries of detailed models. It is a way to remove (to abstract from) details in a model, while still making valid “statements”. Hence, derivation is always meant to go from more detail to less detail. This mechanism is one of the unique properties of the ArchiMate language compared to other modeling languages.

Derivation of Relationship Example

In Example below, assume that the goal is to abstract from the application functions, sub-functions, and services in the model. In this case, an indirect serving relationship (thick red arrow on the right) can be derived from “Financial Application” to the “Invoicing and Collections” business process (from the chain assignment – composition – realization – serving).

ArchiMate derivation of relationships example

Derivation of relationships is intended as a way to create summaries of detailed models. It is a way to remove (to abstract from) details in a model, while still making valid “statements”. Hence, derivation is always meant to go from more detail to less detail. This mechanism is one of the unique properties of the ArchiMate language compared to other modeling languages.

Summary of ArchiMate Relationships        

ArchiMate language defines four categories of relationships, each of which can connect a predefined set of source and target concepts. The relationships are classified as follows:

  • Structuralrelationships, which model the static construction or composition of concepts of the same or different types
  • Dependencyrelationships, which model how elements are used to support other elements
  • Dynamicrelationships, which are used to model behavioral dependencies between elements
  • Other relationships, which do not fall into one of the above categories

The Table below gives an overview of the ArchiMate relationships with their definitions.

Structural Relationships Notation Role Names
Composition Represents that an element consists of one or more other concepts. ArchiMate composition ← composed of
→ composed in
Aggregation Represents that an element combines one or more other concepts. ArchiMate aggregation ← aggregates
→ aggregated in
Assignment Represents the allocation of responsibility, the performance of the behavior, storage, or execution. ArchiMate assignment ← assigned to
→ has assigned
Realization Represents that an entity plays a critical role in the creation, achievement, sustenance, or operation of a more abstract entity. ArchiMate realization ← realizes
→ realized by
Dependency Relationships Notation Role Names
Serving Represents that an element provides its functionality to another element. ArchiMate serving ← serves
→ served by
Access Represents the ability of behavior and active structure elements to observe or act upon passive structure elements. ArchiMate access ← accesses
→ accessed by
Influence Represents that an element affects the implementation or achievement of some motivation elements. ArchiMate influence ← influences
→ influenced by
Association Represents an unspecified relationship, or one that is not represented by another ArchiMate relationship. ArchiMate directed and undirected association associated with
← associated to
→ associated from
Dynamic Relationships Notation Role Names
Triggering Represents a temporal or causal relationship between elements. ArchiMate triggering ← triggers
→ triggered by
Flow Represents transfer from one element to another. ArchiMate flow ← flows to
→ flows from
Other Relationships Notation Role Names
Specialization Represents that an element is a particular kind of another element. ArchiMate specialization ← specializes
→ specialized by
Relationship Connectors Notation Role Names
Junction Used to connect relationships of the same type. ArchiMate junction


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