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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Enterprise Architecture politics and their roots

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Thinking in many Enterprises is tactical at best. Firefighting would better express the fact. This is a main source of politics in the enterprise, since stakeholders would often  question the resources allocation to the EA effort.

The EA thinking is strategic in nature, a long term transformation accepted because of its strategy promise. But it may become a lip service alone, with its execution ever postponed so that the enterprise could cope with the never ending tactical crises. In truth, EA will compete for resources  in the enterprise  with many other tactical  and operational activities which have not been included in the enterprise transformation program in the 1st place. 

Supposing the EA development moves slow and is delayed, it will be generating a lot more 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 implement EA slips away while the EA goalposts are forever moving away.

There is no easy solution to this except plan integrally. To reassure everybody have a clear, holistic plan in place that you are confident you can deliver to. You probably have one single try at the EA. If you don't achieve it, EA would be incriminated. Most of all, EA may end up as a policing function without a reference code law, the EA itself,  to guide its operation.

To mitigate these risk, try to deliver often, iteratively, on time and fit for purpose.

Emphasize, communicate the value returned. 

Prioritise business needs, deal with the EA trigger cause first and deliver what the stakeholders requested. Otherwise they would not support the EA. Success is in the eye of your stakeholders. 

With a delivery plan in front, people can agree and wait, if they trust your delivery. Otherwise, tactical projects win and the role of EA diminishes. 

There are a few political EA execution mistakes: 

* ignoring important stakeholders, 

* not communicating properly or enough in simple clear definitions and messages,

* not consulting the relevant people may provoke the political syndrome of "not invented here" i.e. you have not consulted us, where did this come from?

* not recognizing or referring to valuable inputs (in truth assuming their work)

And, in addition

* the lack of EA development experience

* poor definition of scope

* deliveries not fit for purpose, i.e. (typically large documents with poor 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. The debate about whether the EA delivered value or not becomes political.

As such, define an EA vocabulary, for both business and IT to use, and publish answers to Frequent Asked Questions to avoid confusion that may raise questions about the EA credibility.

Display the progress dashboard on the Web for transparency so that no one can say they were not informed or aware. 

Publish EA realisations so that people can use asap all EA results.


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You make good observations on the challenge of Enterprise Architecture practice in many organizations.

This article also highlights the value of engaging professional enterprise architects from an established services provider, to leverage the lessons they have learned from dozens of other clients. They can also bring in a "neutral" point of view so stakeholders can feel more confident that it is not someone pushing "IT's agenda" versus the business' needs.

Imran Anwar


I think is an excellent item and identifies the challenge I see all the time - which I summarise as "we are too busy to have time to think or plan". The greatest irony in this is that most people recognise that EA requires cultural and process change. Further that these changes, which will involve many small changes to many people and processes, will take place in large organization over time. But if you ask them what their 3 year plan is for EA - or ever what their goals are for this year, next year and following - they struggle to suggest anything meaningful. They revert to some focus on a fashionable framework and some complex abstractions that have caught their attention.

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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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