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Enterprise Architecture Matters

posted Apr 14, 2014, 5:35 AM by Luiz Barboza

Enterprise Architecture Matters
Adrian Grigoriu
The business architect role and the enterprise architecture of tommorrow

By Adrian Grigoriu on April 13, 2014 12:32 AM 0 Vote 0 Votes
To start with, we all agree that, ideally, there should be only one enterprise architecture that describes the overall business operation, technology and organization of the enterprise, in integration.
To be able to properly operate cross-enterprise, the EA function should report into the top enterprise management. 

In practice though, EA is, more often than not working, reporting and more importantly, delivering into IT today.

It is the "old" story of the two EAs. The current IT EA we have today and the target EA, to speak in our own EA terms, we want and need to have.

Thinking like EA architects then, how do we move from the IT EA of today to the full business EA practice?
The minimal effort is to employ a business architect who reports into IT. The probability of success is poor because IT has its own priorities, skill profiles and accordingly career prospects. The business architect, even if somehow successful, simply does not belong in IT.

I've recently seen a few positions of business architects that, in reality, were disguising business analysts roles dealing mostly with requirements and process modeling. The BAs were required to be TOGAF and ITIL certified and reported into IT.

Then, an alternative perhaps, is to employ a business architect that does report into the top management and coordinates the whole EA effort. It would be a cross functional effort.
That might work, had there been an overarching methodology that integrates other enterprise level developments with the IT EA in a single view and coordinated effort and had there been,  in practice, recognition of EA value.

In the absence of that, occasionally, a brilliant EA architect, working and innovating hard and coordinating the many design activities in the enterprise may succeed to develop an overall enterprise architecture.
But the outcome would be hardly reproduceable for lack of an acknowledged theoretical framework that would offer repeatability, predictability and consistency to all such developments. In fact the outcome would be seldom made public.

On the other hand, the business architecture (BA) know-how today may not be ready for prime time. We don't even agree on definition. BA often consists of a collection of activities such as: do strategy, model processes/value streams, document business capabilities etc. But that, we already have in most enterprises.

What we need is a single EA method and governance that considers not only IT but relates all enterprise level activities together, that is, corelates work in such functions like IT EA, BPM, Quality, architecture for technologies other than IT, strategy...

The issue is not new. In fact, this kind of debates had lead to the creation of the business architect role of today.

To sum up, the enterprise architect should operate higher up in the enterprise hierarchy to cover the whole enterprise and really contribute to its fate. But, to convince the enterprise, the architects must produce results first rather than debates and promises. And they must adopt a framework rather than each proposing to solve the issue in an own excellent way but different from all others.

This EA architect will ensure that it is the full blueprint of the enterprise created rather than the IT blueprint and will make sure that the audience is the whole enterprise and not IT alone.

To guide all developments toward the same goal and outcomes. one must have an overall method and framework rather than rely on the excellence of a single individual.
See this generic business architecture.

While the executives do a good job in managing the enterprise today, everybody misses is the synoptical  blueprint that enables them to talk about the same thing, in the same language, in same terms with same definitions.This blueprint would enable them model own parts with same conventions and constraints in the enterprise wide context.
That would render the enterprise united in one coherent operation and development effort while the EA would be the collective cross enterprise design where everybody contributes to the same plan and goals, in synchronization.
This architecture would enable people in the enterprise to do enterprise planning as a portfolio, would turn change reliable and ultimately, would make possible the implementation of strategy.

Yet, long live the EA IT architect of today because he is, today, the EA flame bearer!

It is ironic though for the IT architect, that, with the advent of the IT cloud computing though, the role of higher up enterprise architect outside the IT, becomes increasingly compelling, since off-the-shelf business services, hiding the implementation technology, become the norm.

As an uplifting thought, the business architect and designer of today's enterprise is the entrepreneur, because before puting together the enterprise and  funding, the entrepreneur comes with the plan that describes the products, the markets, the business and operating models, the resources and forecasts of costs and profits to make sure that the enterprise will be viable. The overall business architecture, while not put on paper, still exists somehow in the mind of the entrepreneur. That is lost in time though when the enterprise grows.