Enterprise Architecture Strategies

8 July 2010

I recommend you read Chris Curran’s excellent blog entry on 16 Enterprise Architecture Strategies Learned The Hard Way


I’ve included his list below with my views and comments following that.

1. An exhaustive enterprise level blueprint is virtually impossible to build – it’s too big and no one will buy-in

2. The best strategy blends a direction-setting enterprise blueprint and business unit and domain blueprints

3. Centralized accountability for the EA function is a predictor of success

4. A centralized team of architects is critical in driving EA standards and approaches

5. Architects must be assigned to projects as core team members (60%+ of total EA FTEs) rather than “advisors”

6. EA should be measured in 2 ways: business capabilities delivered and costs of core services

7. Measure EA as an asset – what does it cost to provide the service and what return does the business get from the business capabilities delivered?

8. Architecture leadership requires strong management, business operations and technology skills, most likely in 3 different types of people; don’t expect your chief architect to run the EA function

9. Methods and governance must be integrated into existing work processes (eg, project approvals, SDLC) rather than a new overlay

10. Enterprise Architecture is not always the best name for communicating; maybe Strategy & Planning or Enterprise Transformation is better

11. The best large companies have “business architecture” teams reporting to the business (or dual reporting to business and IT)

12. Leading companies have reference architectures in place for 90% of the technical domains

13. Your senior enterprise architects must have the right cultural skills and awareness to integrate well with upstream business partners and downstream technical users

14. High performance groups maintain consistent, formalized EA involvement in the SDLC to translate blueprints into sufficiently detailed starting architectures for each project as well as accurate cost and resource estimates

15. Mature organizations target 40% EA resource time for strategic planning and 60% on SDLC tasks, and typically err on spending more time on SDLC tasks

16. Strong credibility and trust amongst Business and IT partners is a predictor of EA success. Credibility has typically been gained via joint strategic planning efforts, one project at a time.

My Views

These are my comments on Chris’s list.

1. The enterprise architecture blueprint (i.e. the enterprise architecture content) needs to be developed in iterations, and treated as a living document/model that will never be complete. Aim for each iteration to provide value in it’s own right, to both the business and the rest of the organisation.

2. I agree that there needs to be different aspects to the business and IS strategies that address different segments of the enterprise. They shouldn’t conflict with each other though. Enterprise Architecture is all about aligning the IS strategy to the Business strategy and target business [operating] model.

3. The EA function needs an executive sponsor such as the COO that is accountable for the success of EA. I’m increasingly of the opinion that the EA function should not report to a CIO that is only focused on IT. This sends out the wrong message to the organisation as a whole. The COO should be focused on the success of the business and how it operates as a whole and not just the success of IT. In some cases success for the business may mean less IT as business capabilities in the cloud are used instead of local IT capabilities.

I’ve seen some suggestions that a new C-level post is needed to manage Strategic Change and Enterprise Architecture , that of a Chief Strategic Officer (CSO). This new role makes sense if the COO is only responsible for service delivery operations & support activities.

4. I agree – A centralized team of enterprise architects is critical in driving EA standards and approaches. There is also room for federated EA teams in large global organisations where centralised control is not feasible or even possible with local regional and country based regulatory environments.

5. Its the Solution Architects that should be assigned to projects as core team members. Enterprise Architects will be involved from a governance, compliance and design assurance perspective in quality gates/steering group meetings, and as an advisor. There are usually not that many enterprise architects and too many projects for them to be core members of every project.

Being a ‘Core’ member of a project team implies that they are managed by the project manager, whereas the relationship should be the other way around – the project manager needs to heed the advise and direction coming from the enterprise architects who have a governance sign off at the end of each project phase in project steering group meetings.

6. I agree that EA should be measured in terms of business capabilities delivered, but also in terms of value delivered. Cost of services is just one of many ways of measuring value. The value of EA is indirect though and value is only realised by solutions that deliver the business capabilities in the future many months away. To measure EA properly though means that there need to be a good record of decisions that are made by EA and the eventual outcome of these decisions in the future. This doesn’t happen much in my experience at the moment.

7. EA is a core business function in the same way that Finance Management or Sales & Marketing are core business functions. We should treat the Enterprise Architecture content as a knowledge management asset. The value is the return on knowledge (ROK) that is used in supporting decision making.

8. The EA function does need strong leadership. Doesn’t always get it though. In all the EA teams I have encountered, the Chief Enterprise Architect does also run the EA function. Within a larger EA team, there are often specific managers for the Business Architecture, Information Architecture, Application Architecture, Infrastructure Architecture aspects.

9. I partially agree. Aspects of EA Governance, Compliance and Design Assurance processes should be integrated into existing Strategic Planning, Portfolio Management, Programme and Project Management, Software Development and Service Delivery processes, but the Enterprise Architecture Development process (i.e. TOGAF ADM) will be a new overlay.

10. The name ‘Enterprise Architecture’ is all too easily confused with ‘Solution Architecture’, ‘IT Architecture’ which is a source of confusion so there are often suggestions for new names for ‘real’ Enterprise Architecture. I’ve not yet found a new name I like though it is becoming common to include Enterprise Architecture within a Strategic Change Management team.

11. Business Architecture is just one of the domains of Enterprise Architecture. All of Enterprise Architecture should be reporting to the business (i.e. the COO) rather than to IT (i.e. the CIO).

12. A Reference Architecture is a key component of the target Enterprise Architecture as a whole. In some cases these are provided by industry reference architectures.

13. I agree in general although I’d say that Enterprise Architects probably need to be much more business focused than IT focused. IT is often seen as part of the ‘problem’ and EA needs to be in alignment with the business.

14. This is more the responsibility of the Solution Architects who need to liaise with the Enterprise Architects to translate the Enterprise Building blocks into Solution Building Blocks. The Solution Architects should ideally form part of a ‘virtual’ EA team.

15. The 40% EA resource time on strategic planning and 60% on SDLC tasks mainly reflects the current overemphasis on IT Architecture being done by Enterprise Architects. I think the ideal percentages should be the other way around i.e. 60% strategic planning and 40% project related work.

16. I agree that the credibility of the Enterprise Architects and their trust relationships is critical. Building that credibility and trust starts with working closely with the business on strategic change programmes


3 Responses to “Enterprise Architecture Strategies”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ben Shoemate, Mark Appleby. Mark Appleby said: reading onEnterpriseArchitecture blog http://bit.ly/bhmvbg some good discussion points on enterprise architecture strategies […]

  2. tavip Says:

    thanks, your article is very useful for me, if you still have another article? maybe we can exchange articles

  3. Tim Reading Says:

    Areas where Chief Enterprise Architects need to Improve:

    STRATEGIST: Shape the future
    • Challenge: “Where are we going?”
    • Outcome: Strategies are clear and enduring and furthermore, structures are aligned with both strategy and business model
    • Concern: Long-Term Strategic – Organizational Competencies
    • The CEA will answer the question “Where are we going?” and make sure those around them understand the direction as well. They envision and can create a future. They figure out where the organization needs to go to succeed, test ideas pragmatically against current resources — money, people, organizational capabilities — and work with others to figure out how to get from the present to the desired future. The objectives for CEA as strategists are about creating, defining and delivering principles of what can be.

    EXECUTOR: Make things happen
    • Challenge: “How will we make sure we get where we are going?”
    • Outcomes: Operating model is flexible, visible and enable work to get done across the organization.
    • Concern: Near-Term Operational – Organizational Competencies
    – The CEA will learn to focus on the question “How will we make sure we get where we are going?” CEA’s will understand how to assign accountability, how to know which key decisions to take charge of and which to delegate, and how to make sure teams work well together. They keep promises to multiple stakeholders. Executors make things happen and put the systems in place for others to do the same. CEA’s will learn to revolve around disciplines to get the right things done and the technical expertise to get them done right.

    TALENT MANAGER: Engage today’s talent
    • Challenge: “Who goes with us on our business journey?”
    • Outcome: Leaders are equipped with tools, training and technologies to help them be successful Concern: Near-Term Operational – Individual Competencies
    • CEA’s will learn to answer the question “Who goes with us on our journey?” CEA’s will learn how to identify, build and engage talent to get results now. They identify what skills are required, draw talent to their organization, engage them, communicate extensively and ensure employees turn in their best efforts. They generate intense personal, professional and organizational loyalty. CEA’s will learn to center around resolutions that help people develop themselves for the good of the organization.

    HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPER: Build the next generation
    • Challenge: “Who stays and sustains the organization for the next generation?”
    • Outcome: Leaders are equipped with tools, training and technologies to help them be successful
    • Concern: Long-Term Strategic – Individual Competencies
    • CEA’s as human capital developers will learn to answer the question “Who stays and sustains the organization for the next generation?” CEA’s ensure the organization has the longer-term competencies required for future strategic success. Just as good parents invest in helping their children succeed, human capital developers help future leaders be successful. Human capital developers build a workforce plan focused on future talent, understand how to develop that talent and help employees see their future careers within the company. CEA’s ensure their organization will outlive any single individual

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