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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

"Enterprise Architecture as Strategy" book review (1)

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I browsed the book "Enterprise Architecture as Strategy" by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill and David C. Robertson quite a few times, never quite making my mind about it. It is widely recommended though. But since it landed on the next desk, I decided to take the bull by the horns.

The book has an attractive title consisting of catchy buzz words like Enterprise Architecture and Strategy. The name conveys to me the idea that developing EA should be an enterprise strategy in itself.  Which I agree with since the EA is the only way an Enterprise can consistently execute the strategy.
 
Quoting from the book, "EA is the organizing logic for core business processes and IT infrastructure reflecting the standardisation and integration of a company's operating model.  ...EA boils down to these two concepts: business process integration and business process standardisation", page VIII. 

So far, so good. Really?

The book appears to assume that the purpose of EA is the development of a company's Operating Model (OM). Well, this is a rather narrow view, in my opinion, since the Operating Model is just one aim of many of the EA transformation.

The purpose of EA is much greater than the achievement of an Enterprise Operating Model. EA makes possible the implementation of new Products and Markets and in general of the Business Strategy.  

EA is about providing a framework for strategy execution, decision making and investment...   

 

EA is also a method of systematic description of the Enterprise and its organization logic. But there is little mention of that in the book. Without the Enterprise description, one can hardly think about standardisation and integration through which the desired Operating Model is realised. 

Also architecture alone, as an organization logic, is not only reflecting integration and standardisation, but also grouping, encapsulation, service orientation,... aspects not really mentioned in the book.

Besides, Standardisation and Integration alone barely render the EA business case positive. 

 

In the  Quadrant, the Operating Model is expressed, in terms of Business Process Integration and Business Process Standardisation but not in terms of technology and data, even though technology and data Integration and Standardisation are discussed later on - as they should be.

 

EA though is not only about the organizing logic of Business Processes and IT (the book does not seem to refer to any other technology except IT) but also about people organization and its alignment, at least in my view. This is little mentioned.  

 

The book abounds in examples of business transformations that realise various Operating Models. That is good. But have these transformations been executed by EA efforts?  

EA should support all enterprise transformations, not only OM, and also the goals of every stakeholder in the enterprise.  For instance, the Operations to fix defects, the Development team to create new products, the Programmes to manage consistently projects in a portfolio, the business teams to improve processes... Well, the book does not cover these EA aspects. We noticed many of you got to this page looking for list of top online poker books. Have a look at this website to get the list of top 10 poker books as this article is about Enterprise Architecture as Strategy.

 

There is not much advice on how to achieve the target Operating Model except the process band in the Operating Model core diagrams, that is sketchy to say the least.  Ultimately, various (EA) methods could be employed to achieve the result. There is not much mention though of any other EA framework; how can one use Zachman for instance, TOGAF or any others, to implement the Operating Model of choice?

 

The book does not talk about Value Streams or Enterprise Capabilities either, both quite common in process improvement and EA developments today.

 

Moreover, it does not relate much or at all to Porter's Value Chain, a well known business analysis concept. As for example, how  would an enterprise Value Chain look for different Operating Models?

 

Equally critical for the company, if not more so, are the current and target business models since they show how the enterprise delivers value to customers and returns profit to stakeholders.  Well, business models are not discussed.

But Business Models are very different in nature from The Operating Model concept.

 

Opinions are welcome!

to be continued.

 

Disclaimer: these views do not necessarily reflect the view of my employer.

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3 Comments

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Hi Adrian,

The reason I like this book is that it doesn't chose to dive into the details that you've called out as missing.

My opinion is that the review above is taken from the perspective of a practitioner, but that's not who this book is for; it's for senior business executives.

Therefore I don't think it would be adding value to start talking about TOGAF, Zachman, etc, Value Streams, Capability Modelling and other frameworks and techniques, etc.

In terms of operating model vs other things; at one level you might say that everything a business does is ultimately driven by its operating model - software development, programme management, business operations, etc.

Obviously there's many levels of detail missing from this book - but in my opinion that's what makes this book so useful, popular and timeless.

Regards
Mike

To be fare you should mention that this book was originally published in August 1, 2006. I am sure the author would have a different perspective on his book if it was published today!

Adrian,
While I agree with your analysis that the book is not comprehensive enough, the aspects authors highlight - like Core Diagrams and analysis of Operating Models – have withstood critique for a good part of last decade.
Your post made me reflect on whether one seminal book on EA? Surely not a one. But I would certainly add Enterprise Architecture as Strategy to a collection.

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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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