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Re-Imagining Enterprise Architecture


For too long, Enterprise Architecture has been driven by the domain of IT.  This must change going forward and it must be driven by business strategy and focused on delivering business results.  A key trend is moving EA closer to the business and having EA be a driver for delivering business value, more directly.

Notes from the session Re-Imaginging Enterprise Architecture: EA is Strategic.

The majority of organizations are focusing their IT Enterprise Architecture efforts on aligning with the business and driving business growth. If you are not linking enterprise architecture to business value, you have no ability to show value to the business - even if you are doing good things!

According to a Gartner Group worldwide survey:

  • 23% of EA efforts are truly collaborative with the business.
  • 34% EA efforts are 'beginning to engage' with the business.

Gartner believes these numbers will increase significantly by 2013, signifying a key change in the approach to EA.

So, how do we get there? "Act like you are already engaged with the business." In other words, get involved with the business as a partner - be concerned about business concerns.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

* Change the way you think: Frame everything in terms of business outcomes, value and business performance.

* Show value for money: Provide the right services at the right level of quality and the right price. It's no longer about five-9s.

* Position EA in  investment terms: Including near- and long-term business performance.

The language must be focused on business outcomes. Think in terms of "Transform, Grow and Run" - meaning you must be doing all three: transforming the business, pursuing growth, and running current processes. Too many are too focused on simply running the business.

EA is part of strategy - it is not the strategy. It's tool for strategic planning.

EA is successful when the business comes to the EA team when desiring to make a change. EA is at the service of business and IT - it doesn't tell them what to do. EA should be like the glue holding IT and the business together - making it all work.

To make this happen roles must cross disciplines - must have representation across business, EA and IT strategy working together.

If you do one thing, the most critical is to define enterprise context - identify the internal and external environmental trends; articulate the business strategy; identify requirements; create core principles; develop anchor models of the business. It's defining a solution architecture that works for the enterprise context.

Best practices:

  • Be able to articulate your organization's business strategy (this is not the same thing as knowing your "goal"). BTW, a majority of people cannot do this. It's understanding how your organization will obtain growth - by doing "what".
  • Draft a paper on the business strategy (as simple as possible) and take it to your stakeholders and ask them if it's right. They will engage and correct your paper. That's how you get the dialog going. Don't worry about being wrong (don't try to be wrong but don't worry about being right/wrong) - it's about getting engaged in the discussion. The last thing you want to do is "stakeholder" interviews (this doesn't work because there are too many opinions).
  • Know your CEO and senior business executive's top priorities. This is critical because without knowing these, you cannot link EA strategy to business priorities. EA must be expressed within the context of business priorities.
  • Know your customer. Your customer is the people or companies that are buying your products and services - your business is not your customer. The business is your partner.
  • Align you aspiration for EA with real competencies and engagement. 60-70% of what it takes is "family counseling" skill. Focus on delivering value without regard to your reporting relationship.
  • Define clear measures for EA. Two separate types of metrics: am I doing EA well? Am I driving business value? Don't measure activities - measure outcomes/results. Create a clear line-of-sight between EA and key business outcomes.
  • Don't make the business or IT come to you.
  • Stop talking about business and IT alignment and talk about business performance.There are no IT projects, there are only business projects. If you can't link it back to business strategy, why are you doing it?
By 2014, enterprises will make no distinction between IT governance and corporate governance. 
Frame everything you're doing in the language of business outcomes.
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