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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

The essential value of EA

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Here is the question 

How do you perform a cost benefit analysis for an Enterprise Architecture?

The discussions about case studies on the value of EA or its benefits seem to never never die. Same as the debates on what EA or its purpose are. The reason is simple. There are no or few case studies in the domain.

At least, I haven't seen many case studies showing EA value, till now. Probably because there are no studies showing how EA looks like in the first place. But I have seen way too many studies talking about lessons learnt... 

Most of the time the answer to "what is the value of EA" question invokes confidentiality of the EA. That's true for many efforts but it does not explain why no case study is out there.

But how can one consistently evaluate the value of EA when even professionals have different definitions of EA and the  outcomes differ as widely as the definitions?! If for some EA means strategy, for others operating models or business models and so on?  

Nowadays, there are so many EA efforts, teams, architects but so few EAs. At least those published. That is, perhaps, because most efforts treat EA as an activity alone (reviewing, policing...) rather than as a deliverable such as the blueprint of the enterprise.

The EA activity itself is a must but without the EA deliverable though, the team EA will be trying to solve each and every problem in an enterprise - which is not what an EA architect is supposed or is able to do. Once the stakeholders have an EA blueprint though, they would be able to solve their own problems, in cooperation with the architect at times.

As the blueprint of the enterprise, the value of EA would be calculated at stakeholders, the users of EA. In fact, the value of any product stems from its usage. 
Hence, there is no value in EA if there is no proper EA or no stakeholder to employ it. A such beware that the cost of EA could be much greater than the value returned.
But there is plenty of value if all stakeholders in the enterprise use the EA to enhance their own work. 

Each stakeholder should calculate then the value returned by EA in  own work once the architect establishes guidelines. For instance, top management extracts value from making better and faster decisions, the IT by minimising duplication in platforms, similar technologies..., the business by making more rewarding investments... 
One may calculate a profit in each case and then make the overall evaluation calculation for the enterprise.

At the enterprise wide level, the benefits come from more superior understanding of the operation of the enterprise, better communications, streamlined processes, enhanced products, aligned technology to business processes, more satisfied customers etc.

Also, the value of EA is delivered  in iterations rather than in one go.

Here is a simple presentation about EA and its generic business case and a paper on how to approach the calculation of the value.

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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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