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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Enterprise Architecture, what do we do about it?

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Candid questions like " what is EA" or "how do I become an EA architect?" still asked nowadays prove that something is wrong with the EA profession.  

The classical answer given today is stating EA purpose (strategy, reduce complexity...). There always is the self serving response "do our training course and you'll get an EA architect certificate as well". But is it right to define a concept solely by its purpose? And how many types of certifications are out there? Too many, too different. 

A series of posts will try to discover how Enterprise Architecture fairs today.

The EA definition or is there a definition?

Enterprise Architecture has no agreed definition, that is no single definition or worse, too many of them. What is EA in fact? Is it a practice, a blueprint, a process, strategic planning...?  

Often definitions narrow to much the EA scope. For instance, EA is limited to strategic planning or target architecture alone. That not only is misleading because proper strategic planning is one of many benefits EA can return, but it ignores the fact that EA describes first and foremost the current blueprint of the Enterprise. The architecture of your home is a blueprint rather than the plan to extend it in the future; isn't that so?

Interestingly, most of us are tempted to define EA in our own terms ignoring all other existing definitions. That is because either we haven't found the existing definitions satisfactory or those definitions do not match our job reality. We also feel we can add bits to them and sometimes, we need to competitively differentiate our view. But is it helpful? How many definitions can be out there for the same concept? Web 2.0 communications possibilities and the anonymity of the Internet seems to reduce the barriers of communication. Is that good? yes but one has to sift tones of soil to get to the gold. 

 With different definitions, are we talking then about the same thing?

The fuzziness of the situation also enables unqualified but self important entrants join in as experts, speculating on various loosely defined issues. They talk particularly about strategy and business issues because it sounds good and fuzzy.

What is the EA scope?

Is it IT alone? It mostly is today. Does it include business architecture? Mostly not. Does it include organization or people? No. Does it cover culture? Nope. How does it relate to Six/Lean Sigma or TQM, BPM...? No way. Can then EA reflect the reality of the Enterprise?

What is the EA purpose?

Is it strategy, change. alignment, complexity...? Is it about improving communications? There were more than 1500 answers for this question in a Linkedin discussion. No matter what it is, the purpose itself is just a small part of the definition. After all there are various ways to reach the same destination. But the purpose of EA varies with stakeholders' use. It may be operational improvements, automation, reduction in duplication... or/and strategic planning. There is no single purpose.



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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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