The term Enterprise Architecture (EA) sometimes conjures negative connotations to ivory tower syndrome, ineffective processes, lack of participation, and low stakeholder commitment.
This has resulted in a polarisation of IT communities. Some IT organisations embrace EA and others totally reject its value. But all EA programmes, even effective ones, can be improved. It is a matter of avoiding the common traps and becoming focused on getting things done.
One of the more dangerous and disabling traps of an EA programme comes from the word "enterprise." It inspires an immediate association with the entirety of an organisation and limits the benefits of applying the examination of dependencies, implications, and constraints to cross-domain technology issues, projects, business functions, and other useful perspectives. The most successful EA programmes are action-orientated and help get things done. People understand how the EA program works. People understand the purpose behind EA-specific processes (eg., creation, architecture review, refresh), their roles in those processes, and the results achieved through their participation. These processes are not onerous or bureaucratic. They also understand the contribution that EA team members make as participants in other IT processes like:
- Planning: provide ways to better understand business strategies and dependencies and their impact on the IT portfolio.
- Investment Management: spending priorities benefit from dependency analysis and from the ability to link potential investments to business strategies, impact on business functions, and the application portfolio.
- Design and Development: collaborations that result in the reuse of existing services, solution patterns, and infrastructure; frameworks and a developer infrastructure that are relevant and usable by developers; and the willingness to change the architecture when projects identify new required capabilities.
- Service Management and Operations: dependency artifacts yield valuable inputs to capacity plans and other activities driving service level attainment.
Although many EA programmes struggle to show value, the EA discipline is still an important set of skills and processes that improve IT decision-making and CIO effectiveness. Aligning with your organisation's operating model, avoiding framework-centric approaches, and, most of all, focusing on getting things done offer good prescriptions for change. Doing so allows your organisation to benefit from architecture, collaboration, and EA's ability to influence better decisions.