Establishing an Enterprise Architecture function

3 January 2011

When establishing (or indeed re-establishing) a brand new Enterprise Architecture function within an organisation there are perhaps two main approaches:

  • A big bang approach
  • A gradual iterative incremental approach

I favour the big bang approach. This is for several reasons:

1) a big bang send a clear and confident message to everyone in the organisation that things WILL be done differently

2) a big bang provides a clear mandate, mission, vision and positioning for the Enterprise Architects, sidetracking threats and challenges from others who feel threatened by the emergence of EA

3) a big bang ensures that the Enterprise Architecture function is given a solid budget and is established through a strategic change programme, complete with programme manager

4) a big bang has clear reporting to the CEO or appropriate C-level executive (since responsibilities vary from company to company) and clearly defined outcomes

5) a big bang needs clearly visible and continuous [sic] executive support

6) a big bang must have clear goals, objectives, measures, performance targets etc. Enterprise Architecture must be part of the business strategy to improve the organisation’s effectiveness and profitability.

7) a big bang ensures that proper effort is made choosing an appropriate EA framework, Meta Model, Process and EA tool

8) a big bang is JFDI on a large scale – get the whips and carrots out and get it done right first time ! Make it So !

Don’t get me wrong, iterative approaches do work well with established processes such as software development, but not for the introduction of new functions and processes that haven’t previously existed.

Establishing an EA function in small iterations is giving ammunition to challengers and doubters. There tends to be no mandate, no or limited budget, a quick and dirty mindset, limited access to experienced consultants, no EA tools, overall limited maturity.

It sends a message to the staff that the executive management is not sure, is not confident, and won’t invest in the success of Enterprise Architecture.

It’s a bit like changing governments, you don’t do that iteratively do you?

As Niccolo Machiavelli once said ‘Tardiness often robs us (of) opportunity, and the dispatch of our forces’.

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5 Responses to “Establishing an Enterprise Architecture function”

  1. Ian Glossop Says:

    Playing Devil’s Advocate…

    “Big-bang” is also synonymous with “one-shot” and “high-risk”.

    A big-bang approach to establishing an EA practice would seem to be a risky investment. If the senior management team is not totally convinced and confident of the benefits – the return on the investment – of establishing the EA practice they will want to put only a small amount of money at risk. A toe-in-the-water approach as a learning or trial exercise to establish whether EA merits greater or more significant investment.

    How do you square that with your preference for a ‘big-bang’?


  2. Incremental or big bang – depends on the culture, amount of executive support. Organizations that adverse to failure should consider an incremental approach – IMO. On the other hand, I Adrian’s point is that if you don’t have the support to “big bang it”, then questions wether you should be attempting EA at all.

  3. Venkatesh Says:

    I like this point “It’s a bit like changing governments, you don’t do that iteratively do you?”

    Would like to add some of my honest opinions.

    A Government changes in a big-bang, but the initiatives taken by the new government can be iterative since the country wont be able to manage big-bang changes in policies like spend-cutting, job-cuts etc (Looking at the huge amount of people who were in rally last weekend in London, this in my understanding is after an possible iterative process of job-cut).

    Whether it is a big-bang or iterative, there will definitely be resistance to change in any organisation. This is the main issue that need to be addressed starting from the CEO to an intern hired in an organisation.

    I would say, the EA programme could be big-bang but making people to accept the change must be iterative and must start even before the EA program is announced. Human mind does not have the capability to take big-bang changes, that is why many do not favour big-bang approach.


  4. Dear person in charge of this web site,

    Why is Avancier (which surely contains more and wider resources for enterprise and solution architects than TOGAF) listed under ArchiMate?


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