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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Enterprise Architecture, how does it relate to strategy

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The Enterprise Architecture relationship to strategy, ontology, design (thinking)... is debated yet again in the EA communities of LinkedIn. Perhaps, that will still happen till we get that EA definition hammered down and agreed, somehow. Still, EA looks like a honey pot around which other rather equally well defined disciplines rotate or attempt to land and feed from it.

It certainly looks like these debates never steer to a conclusion; a reason could be that any valuable input could be easily appropriated. As long as peers' contribution is not somehow acknowledged that may change little.
It is also interesting to note that many participants listen or talk to their own echo alone. And uttering nonsense comes at no cost since anonymity in a larger crowd helps.
Debates are not really focused, they branch a lot, lacking the direction they need to stay on track. The person initiating the discussion should be in charge of steering the debate to a conclusion and emphasise the good bits, but seldom is. That's a suggestion. That would be good schooling for many of us to get to the point, precisely what I am not doing here.

In this post, I'll discuss the EA relationship to strategy. Please chip in.  
Strategy has four phases: formulation, mapping, planning and execution. 
My book describes these aspects in a few concise diagrams and then in some detail.

EA has little impact on Strategy formulation except that it makes clear, for the first time and to some's surprise, that the Enterprise strategy is a composite of many business, technology and people strategies. 
The business or I would call it management strategy (aiming at more profit, more markets...), is only apart of the whole Enterprise strategy, mind you. As an example, the Business Intelligence strategy has to be integrated in the business and then in the Enterprise strategy. That may not happen, since that management "more profit" strategy is the only Strategy that counts and as such, the BI strategy is sometimes implemented by stealth, if at all. 
No wonder people are complaining the strategy is seldom implemented. But it's not because of poor execution but because strategies are not integrated in the overall Enterprise strategy, in the first place and as such left out in the execution phase.

Technology has its own strategies that have to be aligned with the business ones. For example, you need to plan the upgrade to a new product, servers, platforms or networks because the current are not supported any longer. And technology is more than IT.

Higher level strategies, such as management's, should be cascaded and blended at lower EA layers in a strategy alignment process aided by an EA framework.
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to be continued...
I am cramming in a few posts since I'll be on holiday in September.

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- 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

Dear Adrian (and others),

Interesting topic (I'm running a blog called "strategic architecture")! I'm looking forward to what you have to say. When I finally have some time, I'll pick up a copy of your book. Should be a good read.

For now I'd like to add two brief comments to the disussion.

Firstly, you mentioned that the debate on the definition of architecture is still on. Agreed. We still talk about it, despite the fact that there seems to be some convergence towards TOGAF/ArchiMate in industry. Luckily, many practitioners and academics have lost interest in the debate and are looking to add value in practice instead. See e.g. the discussion at the blog of Erik Proper a while ago:

http://erikproper.blogspot.com/2007/12/three-perspectives-on-enterprise.html

Secondly, I'm not too happy with your remark that strategy has four phases. Indeed, many strategic issues can be identified, pertaining to strategic processes, content, and context (see e.g. this book: http://www.strategy3rd.com).

The way you've stated it above suggests that all companies at any time adhere to a strict strategic planning approach which, in my view, isn't really the case. Many organizations follow an emergent/ incremental approach...

Last but not least a shameless plug: perhaps you'll find my article "Strategy and Architecture - Reconciling Worldviews" (2009) of interest.

Looking forward to reading more here!

Bas

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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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