Enterprise Architecture: A Different Perspective

I had the pleasure to host a session by Dr Tim O’Neill at the BCS Enterprise Architecture Specialist Group a few weeks ago.

Dr O’Neill is the faculty of Engineering and IT at the University of Technology, Sydney, though currently he is based at Oxford, UK. Dr O’Neill offered some fresh perspectives on the practice of Enterprise Architecture which in turn triggered some thoughts and impressions in my mind. Summarising those thoughts in this post for the Enterprise Architecture community referencing purposes

Wooden Dollars of Business & IT Engagement - Enterprise Architecture is often seen as an enabler or framework for business and IT alignment. But should we really stick with this view going forward? The very notion sends wrong message that business and IT are not aligned. May be this also creates an ‘us and them’ culture unintentionally as IT attempts to bridge the so called gap with ‘them - the business’. Business does not need Enterprise Architecture, it needs value and outcomes from the EA function. I have been writing about this flawed concept for some time now. Additional references - The flawed concept of business and IT alignment.

Enterprise Architect vs. Enterprise Modeller - Can we look at Enterprise Architect as an Enterprise Modeller? Does the ‘Architect’ word association drag Enterprise Architecture function towards IT orientation? Enterprise consideration should span beyond IT to include business, operations, finance and other vital organisation functions. Enterprise Architecture modelling versus actual Enterprise Architecture should be a consideration in this engagement. If CIO walks in your office and asks for recommendation on Hardware Strategy by end of the week, you will likely be doing brief modelling activity than an elaborate architecture effort.

Overcoming barriers for the Enterprise Architecture Program - The barriers to succeed for Enterprise Architecture often are lack of value perception, lack of dedicated or enough funding, insufficient or inappropriate resources and lack of understanding by stakeholders. In order to make a case for Enterprise Architecture an organisation needs to setup Enterprise Architecture Practice comprising of Process, Roles, Steps, Governance, Waivers / Design Process. Such a practice will need to automate process using frameworks, build repository. More importantly it will need to measure the benefits of Enterprise Architecture delivery. Finally communicating the value effectively (charts, dashboards etc) is vital to secure visibility in positive light for the EA effort. Additional reference - Repairing the broken Enterprise Architecture Program

Purpose and Mission of Enterprise Architecture - Boosting cost efficiency or lowering costs of an Enterprise still appear to be one of the biggest Enterprise Architecture drivers. However, Enterprise Architecture is more of a risk mitigation strategy and approach rather than a cost savings tool. Enterprise Architecture enhances predictability. It leads to more reliable planning. A solid proof of this found in popular case study published by Tony Brown where he compared the State of Ohio compensation system development with another state system of similar kind. Ohio State used an approach of Enterprise Architecture while the other state did not. The Brown study established that the architected system of Ohio was built four times faster and the total cost was fraction of the other system. To read more about the Brown study click on http://www.modaf.com/Documents/ and search for Tony Brown. Additional reference - Zachman at BCS, Complexity and Change.

Roles and Partnerships - Enterprise Architect needs to wear different hats in different situations. For instance he or she may play various architecture roles such as Business Architect, Solution Architect, Service or Application Architect while acting as Enterprise Architect. Project Management or Program Management function is a strong partner and ally to make Enterprise Architecture successful. Another influence which Enterprise Architects should use is our friends in Business Intelligence or Management Information department who have mastered the art of presenting right information in right format to right stakeholders.

About the author
Amitabh 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. Currently he is the Chief Technology Officer in Fujitsu Services Private Sector Division.

See all posts by Amitabh Apte
September 2017
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