Enterprise Architecture – Part 2
This is second in the series where I would like to delve into Enterprise Architecture, the discipline. In the Enterprise Architecture – Part 1, I talked about the need to determine the “right change”. So there are many ways to determine that and it is evident that successful companies are currently managing to do the right things for their enterprise. But the key question is, how can enterprises develop the plans and subsequent implementation of those plans in a more structured, predictable and repeatable way.
Typically the business directives from the executive management (CEO, COO etc) may be at a high level and it the responsibility of the CIO organization to translate them into IT architecture roadmaps containing actionable initiatives. To recap a key point made in part1, the probability of the roadmaps gaining enterprise wide buy-in is high if the definition of the roadmap is rooted in the analysis of the architecture of the enterprise. This is where Enterprise Architecture as a discipline comes into picture to make this process of planning, analyzing and developing roadmaps in a more formal and efficient manner.
Enterprise Architecture is a key architecture discipline that focuses on analysis at the value chain level with a primary goal to manage an enterprise’s architecture complexity. It enables an holistic understanding of the enterprise’s architecture landscape and helps to align its overall architecture with its business vision/strategy. Enterprise Architecture is often developed by leveraging a Framework which offers methods and artifacts that explicitly define the relationship between business processes, information system and technology architectures. EA focuses on both the architectural and contextual elements of an enterprise. One of the primary outputs of developing enterprise architecture is the development of a roadmap specifically to achieve enterprise’s business strategy. This roadmap clearly identifies the initiatives that are needed and spells out the sequence of their implementation enabling enterprise transform from its current state to a desired future state in a highly planned and controllable way.
The key purposes of Enterprise Architecture as a discipline can be summarized as follows
Strategic Context – EA enables awareness of the contextual elements that are essential to the subsequent development of enterprise architecture. One of the first things EA focuses on is “why” the business needs a specific initiative and seeks to define business vision, goals and objectives clearly.
Process – EA typically follows a process to analyze and understand how an enterprise’s architecture landscape is organized currently and more importantly “what” elements of the architecture should be transformed to achieve the desired target state. To correctly define such transformation plans EA process requires development of business, application, data and technology architecture models that can help understand both current state of the enterprise and define what the target state needs to be. The typical output of such an EA process is a collection of coherent initiatives (programs and projects) that can realize the enterprise’s business vision and strategy.
Standards – EA drives the establishment of enterprise wide Principles, Standards and Guidelines that need to be followed by the individual programs and projects ensuring all change initiatives march in unison and achieve the same goals of the enterprise.
Governance – EA defines the required governance to guide the implementation of those initiatives. EA governance enables business and IT stakeholders to clearly understand “what” the transformation initiatives are, “how” to go about carrying out those initiatives, and finally “how” to successfully prove to the stakeholders that transformation has indeed been achieved. Also EA offers architectural guidance to the development of the solution architecture of the individual initiatives in the roadmap.
- 1. Set Direction – The practice of EA discipline can set the overall architecture direction for the enterprise based on a structured analysis of the current landscape and how it needs to be transformed.
- 2. Optimize Architecture at the Enterprise Level – EA optimizes application and data portfolio at the enterprise level by defining the strategic architecture and eliminates duplicate business functionality and enterprise information.
- 3. Introduce Order and Formality – Enterprise Architecture brings “order” and “formality” to how an enterprise defines, introduces and manages the changes needed to continue on its growth path.