A3 Architecture overviews: A tool for effective communication in product evolution

P.D. Borches Juzgado

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

1007 Downloads (Pure)


Creating products from scratch is time consuming and costly. Evolving an existing product is a strategt often chosen by companies to meet customer demands in a timely manner. Evolving a product however poses great challenges, especially if the product is a complex system.

The ability of a system to be easily evolved is termed evolvability. Evolvability refers to how a system design changes frome one generation to the next, such as specifying which aspects of the design are passed down and which are new to the previous generation. Over the years, technologies, designs and implementations of systems may have changed completely. It may be only the architecture that remains from the original system. Architectures, once consolidated in an architecture description, provide a framework in which evolution can be performed, enable early analysis, facilitate communication among stakeholders, etc.

The process of creating architectures is called architecting. This responsibility lies with the architect. A major need of architects is to share architecture knowledge. This is however not common practice in most companies. In addition, even if a knowledge sharing mechanism successes in delivering architecture knowledge, if this knowledge cannot be effectively communicated to the variety of stakeholders, it can render a great architecting work ineffective.

The A3 Architecture Overview is a tool meant for effective communication of architecture knowledge. An A3 Architecture Overview uses two sides of an A3 sheet. One side displays a structured model (A3 Model), composed of several interconnected views, while the other side displays structured textual information (A3 Summary). The A3 Architecture Overview has been used in real industrial projects at Philips Healthcare as a communication tool to share architecture knowledge. Experiences and feedback in its use and creation have shown that it is a powerful tool for effective communication in product evolution and an improvement in the way companies share architecture knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • van Houten, F.J.A.M., Supervisor
  • Bonnema, Gerrit Maarten, Advisor
Award date21 Dec 2010
Place of PublicationEnschede, The Netherlands
Print ISBNs978-90-365-3105-4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2010


  • IR-75284
  • METIS-273809


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