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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

The Enterprise transformation blueprint, the EA

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A house blueprint is designed by the architect and used by the plumber, electrician, owner, potential buyer... It comes with guidance documentation, sometimes.

"If you have ever watched a house being built, or if you have ever had an addition put onto an existing house, you know that the standard method of communication is a big piece of paper called a blueprint. Blueprinting is the standard method used to copy large architectural and construction drawings. A blueprint used to consist of white lines on a blue background. A more recent process uses blue lines on a white background." (see blog).

A house transformation plan is executed first on the blueprint. Then, as a portfolio of projects changing the blueprint components (rooms, loft, garden...). The transformation plan implements your intent (I want a new floor, a study...), according to your strategy (do it on your own).

Quite similarly, the Enterprise Architecture blueprint is not static. It should be constantly updated to reflect the change in Enterprise structure, result of all on-going projects in an Enterprise. That may not always happen but this is the task of the EA architect. The blueprint should reflect the Enterprise changes and its evolving goals. For instance, your Enterprise adopts an online business model i.e. e-commerce, besides the traditional town shops. That demands automation of processes and introduction of new systems.

The relationship between structure and its purpose is shaped by the architectural style, take for instance SOA. For your house, a very simple analogy to SOA would be a house where all rooms open into a hall.

The EA blueprint should be the base of all conversations on maintenance, renovation and transformation of the Enterprise. Otherwise we wouldn't be sure that we talk about same things. It should be the basis of change in the Enterprise, be it operational, tactical or strategical. Without a blueprint, the transformation cannot be properly managed; the Enterprise would grow organically until a point where nothing works any longer and its decay starts.

Each and every stakeholder should also have an own blueprint of the small part of concern, which like a car part would fit into a whole that works.

Today, can you design or repair a car without a blueprint? We do that for our Enterprise. We succeed, more or less, because we all have in mind a picture of how our part works, but not the big picture. And then we interact, discuss, meet... to put it together, i.e the end picture for each and every transformation. The cost of this approach may become prohibitively expensive. Too much re-iteration, interaction, too many misunderstandings, too much trial and error.

Then, should the EA blueprint be the cornerstone of the Enterprise transformation?


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Adrian Grigoriu blogs about everything relating to enterprise and business architecture, SOA, frameworks, design, planning, execution, organization and related issues.

Adrian Grigoriu

Adrian is an executive consultant in enterprise architecture, former head of enterprise architecture at Ofcom, the spectrum and broadcasting U.K. regulatory agency and chief architect at TM Forum, an organization providing a reference integrated business architecture framework, best practices and standards for the telecommunications and digital media industries. He also was a high technology, enterprise architecture and strategy senior manager at Accenture and Vodafone, and a principal consultant and lead architect at Qantas, Logica, Lucent Bell Labs and Nokia. He is the author of two books on enterprise architecture development available on Kindle and published articles with BPTrends, the Microsoft Architecture Journal and the EI magazine. Shortlisted by Computer Weekly for the IT Industry blogger of the year 2011.

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