Still not getting the right results, stakeholder engagement and ROI promised by EA business case? Don't worry! You are not alone.

So you went through this cycle recently in your organisation? You identified the need for a formal EA function? Then defined the EA function, brought some Enterprise Architects in your organisation, or rebranded some? And then spent significant time, money, efforts, and resources to launch and run the program for months or a year? And you're still not seeing results?

A number of EA functions face similar issues and majority end up being folded and produced EA collateral ends up on shelf somewhere. A few however, learn and grow from this to genuinely make a difference for the organisation. I have personally been involved in both these versions of EA programs. And based on my personal experience, the difference seems to be success (or lack of it) in securing executive sponsorship, visible early results, wider engagement, right balance of project and strategy. Most remarkable EA programs are driven not as IT or IS programs but as Business and Corporate Strategy Programs.

Gene Leganza of Forrester Research has written a very good article in which he analyses the failure scenarios and proposes four best practices to get EA program back on track. They are as follows;

  1. Focus intensely on clearly defined goals
  2. Base EA goals on what matters to the business now
  3. Create an EA practice effective for your needs and culture
  4. Align the application portfolio with business strategy

As Gene Leganza states, an effective enterprise architecture (EA) practice can eliminate business-IT-alignment problems, bring order and purpose to an organisation's use of technology, and lead an enterprise on the road to greater collaboration and innovation. However it's all too common to see EA programs crash and burn because architects fail to convince key stakeholders of their value.

May be this is the key message of 2011 for Enterprise Architecture community then - Clear EA Value Proposition Definition and Effective ongoing Stakeholder Management. Good luck, my fellow EA practitioners, have a successful 2011!

About the author

Amitabh Apte is a senior enterprise architecture practitioner who specialises in business and technology strategy definition, governance, architecture as well as methods and tools. He is an active industry networker, blogger, speaker and contributor to the advancement of enterprise architecture discipline.