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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

"Enterprise Architecture as Strategy" book review (2)

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The OM is  rather implicitly created  at the creation of the company or at its extension, rather than deliberately by an EA effort. It is also rather hard to believe that an EA architect, working in IT, would impose or even propose an operating model since this is essentially a business issue and decision.

The Operating Model (OM) strategy does not really apply to each and every company but to those which are geographically distributed and consist of a few similar business units. For most companies though Integration and Standardisation are architectural dictates, no matter the Operating Model.

Unification may not be the ideal or the target state for many enterprises; it depends on the type of business the enterprise is in. For McDonalds, for instance, where the same/similar products are delivered in many outlets around the world, the ideal OM state could be Replication. The truth is that for many other companies a mixture of these Operating Models would apply.

Anyway, currently, the enterprise support services are typically shared these days by the divisions of an enterprise often called as such Shared Services. In effect, Unification applies to most enterprise support services.   But even in this case - take for instance IT - services (or part of them) may still be replicated for greater response and accountability.

Most companies achieve the Operating Model that is natural to their type of operation early in their lifecycle, without engaging in an EA effort.

The Operating Models core diagrams in the book are not really intuitive for an architect, at least because an architect would expect differently from an EA diagram.

About the EA maturity model phases. 

1. "Business Silos architecture" is the typical, current and initial state of an Enterprise  transformation.

2. "Standardised Technology architecture" is not mentioned in the Operating Model quadrant. But should technology standardisation be happening before process standardisation? One first needs to discover and standardise the current processes then design and standardise the technology.  Also, many processes can be standardised or executed by people, independent of technology. In the book it is stated that "EA is not an IT issue- it's a business issue" (page VIII).  Still technology is the first transformation stage.

3. "Optimized Core architecture";   it looks to me though that "optimization" means more than process "standardisation".

4. "Business Modularity architecture"; modularity is not mentioned in the Operating Model at all; in fact, it may add another dimension to the OM quadrant - which may become a cube. Does this final state guarantees that the target Operating Model has been achieved? In fact, is there a connection between the Operating Model and the EA maturity stages model?

 To summarise:

The book conveys little information on EA. It is limited to a discussion on the Operating Model which may be implemented by an EA or otherwise. The book should have been more properly called "The Operating Model as Strategy". 

It is not a book for IT or EA for that matter. It is describing the Operating Model but as we are already used to, in isolation from all the other business concepts such as Value Chains, Value Streams, Business Models... The book rides on the popularity of the EA concept to introduce the Operating Model concept and the EA maturity cycle that are little related. The simplicity of its view greatly appeals to business readers though.     

Were I to express the book in one picture I would choose the Operating Model Quadrant as I would chose the Matrix for Zachman and the ADM circle for TOGAF.

To paraphrase:

"EA is the organizing logic for core business processes and IT infrastructure reflecting"  a lot more than  "the standardisation and integration of a company's operating model..."   "EA boils down to" much more than   "two concepts: business process integration and business process standardisation".  EA also "boils down to" managing complexity (simplification, reduction in duplication, streamlining processes...), alignment of technology to business operation and service orientation that enables agility and as such rapid business change.

In the end, like most other readers, I would recommend the book for the Operating Model concept but not for Enterprise Architecture.



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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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