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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

EA inhibitors, politics and remedies

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The EA is commended because of the state of high entropy of the Enterprise: high complexity, poor availability and understanding induced by years of patching, point solutions, silo operation, organic growth, mergers and a growing divide between business and IT.

Business needs to change and compete faster and faster while IT can no longer cope with mending the legacy of the past, unwiring the architecture "hair ball" and integrating technology generations from various eras, including the mainframes, the dinosaurs of IT.

Business got tired of the exotic IT talk like WS, SOAP, REST, UDDI, WSDL, mashups, AJAX, ESB, BPM, BPEL, XML, UML, TOGAF... some badged 2.0 now (and technology is changing at an exponential rate these days - Ray Kurtzweil's law-, so it is getting worse). Business has no need to understand this language.

IT is not talking either about Value Chain, business models, process improvement, Six Sigma, regulation, customer satisfaction, Balanced Scorecard, SWOT, KPIs, NPV, payback, the terms the business understands.

But, on the other hand, is business providing, in the first place, the process architecture, business information and vocabulary necessary for IT to comprehend and align the technology to the business operation? No.  

In brief, neither IT nor the business pay their due for the alignment of the enterprise and a proper collaboration. The net outcome is the great chasm between the business and IT and an increasingly high charged atmosphere progressing towards a blame culture.  And as such politics.

And the solution is the EA which ought to mend all the evils of the Enterprise, to cure the silo culture and patch the divide between IT and business.

In a nutshell, EA becomes the ground of the already existing political battle but, at the same time, the tool to mediate the political divide. While the EA encompasses alignment of business, strategy, technology and people, the IT takes the driving role without the business and top management support. How is this transformation supposed to happen then?

After all, more than half of the EA is not IT, i.e. business processes (how), strategy (why), information (what), organization (who)... In fact without a strong business leadership and participation, EA would lack political support and fail to deliver on its promise since IT alone cannot specify (SOA) business services, describe or improve processes, determine usefulness of data... 

Over-hype has already placed EA and SOA at the top of the curve where the credibility is not sustained yet by realisations. The result is that the business doubts it!

So IT proceeds with the EA under a cloud of hype with no business support.

In this phase, the best you can do, is try to remedy the relationship with the business. That needs trust.

As such put forward a business case for EA expressed in financial terms that may gain business approval. 

Sell the EA benefits specific to each key business stakeholder.Spend energy to rally critical stakeholders' support in business and top management. Involve them by planning adequate EA artifacts, in response to their requests, explaining what is in it for them.  

Without critical business input, the resulting IT only EA would provide mainly the Applications, Infrastructure and may be the Data architecture, which is not sufficient to deliver to business expectations ( such as process improvement, agility, strategic planning etc). The business people will have little reason to consult it, the word spreads, and, progressively, the EA losses its momentum everywhere. The loop is closed now. The business was right to doubt it, after all.  

 Thinking in many Enterprises is tactical, at best. Firefighting would  be a better expression. The EA is strategic, a long term transformation accepted because of its strategy promise but its acceptance may become a lip service only, with its execution ever postponed to cope with tactical crisis. In truth, EA will compete for resources with many other activities which have not been included in the EA scope, in the 1st place.

Supposing the EA development moves slow and is delayed, it will be generating a lot  tactical-strategic conflicts: business people need solutions yesterday, the market cannot wait and the EA will provide the feature who knows when! Tactical projects are approved then and have to co-exist and compete for resources with the EA program. The chance to accomplish the implementation of EA slips away. There is no easy solution to this except delivery on time and fit for purpose. To reassure everybody have a clear, simple plan in place that you are confident you can deliver to. You probably have one single try. And plan tactics and strategy at the same time to alleviate resources conflicts.

Then deliver often, iteratively, emphasize value returned. Prioritise business needs, deal with the EA trigger cause first and deliver what the stakeholders requested. With a delivery plan in front, people can wait, if they trust you. Otherwise, tactical projects win.

There are EA execution mistakes: ignoring important stakeholders, not communicating properly or enough in simple clear definitions and messages, not consulting relevant people, not referencing and recognizing contributions, to name a few, provoking the syndrome of "not invented here" i.e. you have not consulted us, where did this come from"?

Poor definition of scope and deliveries not fit for purpose, i.e. (typically large documents with weak focus) can increasingly deteriorate credibility as the development process is stalled by unusable outputs and by disputes about if and how the artifacts are to be used.

Always have a plan to prove the current status and deliveries to come.

Define, Terms of Reference and an EA vocabulary, for both business and IT to use, and Frequent Asked Questions to avoid confusion and display the progress dashboard on the Web for transparency. 

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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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