Real Enterprise Architecture or IT Architecture?

28 August 2010

Organisations always have an implicit architecture, but not always an explicit architecture.

If they do have an explicit architecture, the chances are that it is an IT Architecture that has evolved over the course of hundreds of little decisions made by developers and project managers over the years.

Perhaps these decisions have been made by the CIO in consultation with the IT department and the business who ultimately have to pay for them.

The question is this IT Architecture the right architecture for the organisation?

Many of the business leaders certainly don’t think that they have the architecture they need or deserve.

Increasingly I hear business leaders talk of IT as part of the problem and not part of the solution.

The move to outsourcing and cloud computing is a knee jerk reaction by the business to bypass that slow, constraining old IT department they don’t like and think is too expensive.

The IT Architecture then represents what has happened in the past.

In many cases it’s not quite the fault of the IT department.

They’ve tried their hardest over the years and have done away with business and systems analysis in favour of Agile (the new quick and dirty) approaches in blinkered projects.

This has meant that many IT systems and processes have ended up as string and sealing wax solutions, each in their own silo, as one bank told me last year.

It’s easier for the business to hack together an end user computing (EUC) solution (i.e. Access or a Spreadsheet) or buy a cloud based solution outside the control of IT.

These are unstructured and dangerous, but within limits have given the business the control and responsiveness they wanted.

However ultimately these non-IT solutions hinder an organisations ability to execute its latest business strategy.

So the concept of Architecture is brought back to sort out the mess. But the IT Architecture has not had the impact at the right levels to have the right effect and be the right architecture, so we need something else.

To get the right architecture, organisations should focus on ‘real’ enterprise architecture, not IT architecture, and certainly not IT Architecture just renamed as Enterprise IT Architecture.

Top performing organisations use Enterprise Architecture, with it’s business and strategy driven approach, to help them mould their business strategies, identify the goals and objectives, guide the development of their Business Models and Business Operating Models, establishing the new set of Business Capabilities they require, provide advice and help shape the strategic initiatives that are plotted on an enterprise architecture roadmap in order to drive the execution of their strategies.

The outcome of Enterprise Architecture doesn’t necessarily involve IS or IT changes, it all about the business needs.

Smart organisations have found that using ‘real’ Enterprise Architecture, instead of just a focus on IT Architecture, has helped the business plan and manage mergers & acquisitions, major e-Business transformations & consolidations, grab hold of new business opportunities and introduce new offerings faster better and cheaper. can help your organisation use ‘real’ enterprise architecture to achieve greatness.

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One Response to “Real Enterprise Architecture or IT Architecture?”

  1. rob w Says:

    – What happens when my strategies are not clear and enduring?
    – Where are we going and how do I make sure we get there in an operational and fiscally responsible way?
    – What happens when my operating model is not flexible enough to enable work to get done across the organization?
    – What happens when my leaders are not equipped with the necessary tools, training, and technologies to help them be successful?
    – What happens when my operating structure is not aligned with both strategy and business model?

    Leverage enterprise architecture as a strategic differentiator and enabler of stable transformation

    Long -Term: Where are we going?
    The Enterprise Architect (as a strategist) provides long term stability to ensure strategies are clear:
    – Creating the operating model and transformation plans
    – Developing strategic technology plan

    Near-Term: How will we make sure we stay on track?
    The Enterprise Architect (as a tactician) facilitates near-term efficiency by ensuring the operating model is flexible:
    – Increasing executive awareness of technical and operational issues
    – Managing technical risk associated with new and updated technology
    – Determining measures for performance and responsiveness

    Continuum: How do we get there in the most efficient and effective manner – without damage?
    The Enterprise Architect, (fully empowered) manages the architecture and governance through operational excellence and risk mitigation
    – Structuring governance, at the enterprise level
    – Ensuring that technical solutions align with fiduciary responsibilities

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