A3 System overview
The A3 method is an excellent tool for capturing relevant architectural aspects for a specific goal, such as an architectural refactoring or handover of responsibilities.
A few years ago, the A3 method was developed by the University of Twente together with ESI and Philips. Since then, it has been successfully applied within many other companies.
Most high-tech systems are specified using a large number of documents that vary widely in content and form. This is an approach that involves many risks: documentation becomes out of date, incomplete and inconsistent and is increasingly difficult to access. As a result, product developers may operate and make design decisions based on inadequate or outdated system representations.
In the A3 approach, architectural overviews are presented in an A3 format as graphical and textual representations. The complete system is documented in terms of a limited set of system concepts. Furthermore, each concept is represented by multiple connected system views that demonstrate the interdependencies between the different views.
The method is structured according to the following steps:
Select key architectural concept and target audience
Capture the following information on a single A3 sheet:
Design decisions and key system parameters
Evaluate and, if needed, adapt and repeat all steps
More information about this method:
A3 Architecture Overviews
PhD thesis of P. Daniel Borches
Recent publications that showcase applications of the A3 method:
Marius Johanssen, Yangyang Zhao, An A3AOs Method of Software Tools Integration in the Complex System Development, INCOSE 2019 in Orlando, FL, USA;
Tore Boge. Kristin Falk, A3 Architecture Views - A Project Management Tool? INCOSE 2019 in Orlando, FL, USA;
Wilco Pesselse, Theo Hofman, Martin Simons, Gerrit Muller, Applying and analyzing A3 Architecture Overviews in a complex and dynamic engineering environment, INCOSE 2019 in Orlando, FL, USA
Sindre Løndal. Kristin Falk, Implementation of A3 architectural overviews in Lean Product Development Teams; A case study in the Subsea Industry, INCOSE 2018 in Washington, DC, USA
Anders Viken, Gerrit Muller, Creating and Applying A3 Architecture Overviews: A Case Study in Software Development, INCOSE 2018 in Washington, DC, USA
Kristian Frøvold, Gerrit Muller, Applying A3 reports for early validation and optimization of stakeholder communication in development projects, INCOSE 2017 in Adelaide, Australia