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What Are the Biggest Challenges Facing Enterprise Architects Today?

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From a Forrester blog, A Multitude of Challenges for Business Architects, what are the biggest challenges facing Enterprise Architects today?

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  • The Biggest Challenges Facing Enterprise Architects Today are:

    1) Disconnection from the Enterprise Business and Business Architecture
    2) Needed authority over IT delivery management
    3) Technical Governance through the enterprise

    - Michael Poulin

  • Jeff Scott and Michael covered the challenges pretty well. As for numero uno, I think Jeff's #3 point, low visibility, is the biggest challenge of all. Many companies, and even CIOs, aren't even aware of what their enterprise architecture is (beyond Windows running on Intel servers or a mainframe), let alone professionals to design and oversee its formation!

  • I think Jeff's exercise has brought out most major items.

    There's another angle to this as well - relates to some of the points made in Jeff's post on resistance and gatekeeping but I'm not sure if it is through this angle.

    With the advent of IT until recent past, Business Architecture ended up becoming akin to Enterprise Architecture - and that is a problem considering that the term EA, all the debates notwithstanding, still is more IT driven then business driven. So, that's the traditional EA practice view that's persists today.

    The fact that business is the key driver for architecture has actually become more and more accepted and openly acknowledged now, which actually prompted me to ask this question on Linked In Forum - "Has Architecture become a management discipline more than technology one?" - http://linkd.in/c0Mtam

    While I concede that this should have been the de-facto scenario in the ideal Biz Arch definition, the amount of debate caused by the question points otherwise. So, another major challenge that also comes out is that there's a lot of insecurity among traditional EA practitioners to concede their assumed positions on IT alignment of architecture and work towards business driven architectural practices and discipline. The fear being that then it will no more remain a technology discipline but may get owned by management discipline practitioners. so, that results into preach v/s practice gap.

  • I've always believed the biggest issue is the term, "Enterprise Architecture". One would think that since Enterprise modifies Architecture that one would be designing the enterprise, which is not at all what Enterprise Architecture really is.

    Is it Enterprise IT Architecture, Enterprise Application Architecture, Enterprise Data Architecture, Data Center Architecture, etc.? Each person who is responsible for hiring these services often has a different idea in mind of what they believe the person performing this architecture will provide for them and what value will be received. Thus, the Enterprise Architect cannot succeed in the face of such confusion, nor can they properly prepare for the role.

  • 1. Lack of credibility with other (business and IT delivery) stakeholders caused by the interminable debate over the question "what is enterprise architecture?"
    2. An inadequate EA standard in TOGAF that doesn't integrate with the real world (program driven, agile, iterative, modernization focused, offshore, contract based)

  • Couldn't we sum all of this up with one statement?

    1. The need to make EA relevant to the business.

    (Which is really Michael's first point, and both of David S.'s points rolled into one.)

    You're not in IT. You're in financial services. Or energy. Or telco. How you approach EA will be determined by the business you're in, not the method you were taught.

    Many of the challenges listed in Jeff's post are really run of the mill execution challenges ("Do I have the right people?" and so on). This puts the cart before the horse; we need to understand the problem we're trying to solve before we consider how we're going to solve it.

    Jeff's comment at the end of the post is much more interesting.

    "First EAs need to understand what business executives care about".

    The majority of Enterprise Architecture teams I come across are incapable of explaining why the business should bother with EA at all. They talk about the need for governance and alignment, but can't explain what they're specifically doing which will help the company move toward it's long and short term goals.

    As David S. pointed out, all too often EA is treated as dogma. We need to stop treating EA as some sort of religion (which debates over how the holy trinity functions) and focus on using the interesting bag of tools we have to solve problems for the business.

    The business executives I meet who support EA seem to have invariably worked with an EA team who avoid the dogma, and focus on adding value to the particular business that they are there to support.



  • I was part of a conversation on Twitter yesterday regarding frameworks, and my point is that too many teams (not just EA), are too focused on making their own job easier (internal focus) rather than on making the job of others easier (external, service focus). If any team doesn't understand how they're going to help others, they're going to have a struggle. Going further, if their idea of helping others does not show any thought on how to complement existing techniques and processes, it will struggle. You can't just say, "If you model the enterprise and do a current state/future state gap analysis, blah blah blah, all will be good." Instead, you have to understand how the stakeholders are making decisions, where there are shortcomings, and how the practice of architecture can address those shortcomings. This all comes down to the point of making it relevant. To be relevant, it must fit the customer's context and not come out of the gate trying to change the customer's context.

  • The Biggest challenge that Enterprise Architects face in the Modern World are below
    1: With the growing huge traffic on the web and also the Mobile apps traffic volumes growing which in turn hit the existing app Servers for the Services capacity planning is the major thing which helps in lot infrastructure planning for future.

    2: The decision making on the technologies that needs to be used and the Design to leverage the Existing EIS ( Enterprise Information Systems) has to lie in the hands of the Architects.

    3: For Huge Enterprise apps design the EA's in determining leveraging the best features that are available on the Product that is being used needs to be aware and the same has to be considered in designing. Eg Implementation of the Hot deployment feature that is Offered by the Latest version of the APP Servers, Reduces the Dependency of the Server Engineers for Deployment.

    4: Have a Clear Road map on the growth of volumes of traffic is one of the Key factor that adds up to the cost reduction and investments on Future infrastructure Up lifts.

  • user-pic

    I thyink the biggest challenge that EA has is is majorly in two space:
    Value Creation
    - User Rejection of Common Solution
    - Lack of IT-Biz Collaboration
    - Low Adoption Rate
    - Guilty of Over Engineering
    - Vision without ground reality
    - Business Conflict with Dependency

    Value Delivery
    - Measurement outside Fiscal year
    - Deviation from Expectations
    - No Service Availability State
    - Handover Alignment Issues
    - Ever going EA Projects
    - Value dilution during PMO activities

    We need to work in changing the Business communities mindset on EA from
    "Need of IT" to "Need of Business"
    "Good to Have" to "Essential to have"
    "One time Event" to "Continuous Process"
    "Recurring Cost" to "Building Value Stack"

    It is very important that an Enterprise to choose a right partner for developing and managing its EA.

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