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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

How EA doesn't do the work of strategy and planning functions

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Most, if not all, organizations already have strategy and planning functions. So why do enterprise architecture pundits and reputable firms stress that EA architects do strategy? What is the relationship between these functions--that is, strategy, planning and EA? I would like to invite you to debate here on this so that we can shelve the issue once for all.

You may have heard about the book "Enterprise Architecture as Strategy." It emphasizes that the "strategy" needed to succeed in the continuous transformation of today's enterprise is building and exploiting an EA to guide the transformation. that's something that Zachman has said for a long time. But that does not mean that EA architects do strategy themselves. 

At its narrowest definition, EA means the enterprise blueprint. It may be used for managing complexity and enabling change--be it operational, tactical or strategical--since it describes the functions, systems, technology and oganizational units that the change applies to.
As such, EA may assist strategy formulation and mapping by describing the enterprise parts to which the strategy applies.

The strategy function specifies the overall business strategy. Nevertheless every key department specifies its own strategy in alignment (?) to business strategy. IT has its own strategy, for example. Enterprise Architecture enables the alignment of these strategies under one single enterprise strategy--but still it does not formulate the business strategy. 

EA, in its wider definition, is the process of enterprise transformation from a current to a future state (like TOGAF ADM suggests), enabling strategy planning from the EA gap analysis and roadmaps. Thus, EA assists strategy planning by providing gaps analysis and roadmaps but EA itself, does not do it, at least because the planning function did this work long before and independent of EA. 

The enterprise transformation according to strategy is achieved by programs coordinated by the PM office and executed by development people. EA assists the strategy execution process by enabling an enterprise program portfolio approach, but it does not execute the Enterprise transformation itself.

Therefore, the EA function does not formulate, plan or execute strategies; thus, it does not have a conflict of interest with strategists, planners or development teams, as may often appear to be the case in contemporary debates and various opinions on EA. 

The strategy, EA, program office and development organizational functions should work in harmony, though, to achieve strategy formulation, mapping, alignment, planning and execution. 

But if the EA scope is IT alone, as it currently happens, EA will have a diminutive role in the strategic transformation process, if any role at all.

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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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