In my previous post, I discussed the basics behind the importance of enterprise architecture (EA). The open group describes the need for architecture as:
“The purpose of enterprise architecture is to optimize across the enterprise the often fragmented legacy of processes (both manual and automated) into an integrated environment that is responsive to change and supportive of the delivery of the business strategy.
Today’s CEOs know that the effective management and exploitation of information through IT is a key factor to business success, and an indispensable means to achieving competitive advantage. An enterprise architecture addresses this need, by providing a strategic context for the evolution of the IT system in response to the constantly changing needs of the business environment.
Furthermore, a good enterprise architecture enables you to achieve the right balance between IT efficiency and business innovation. It allows individual business units to innovate safely in their pursuit of competitive advantage. At the same time, it ensures the needs of the organization for an integrated IT strategy are met, permitting the closest possible synergy across the extended enterprise.”1
It’s important to note that if there is no existing architecture presence in the organization, you don’t have to embark on a massive initiative to create all artifacts and architecture layers/dimensions at once. In fact, even the definition of the enterprise can be scoped to ensure an optimal and achievable goal. The architecture layers tackled can also be scoped to ensure highest value artifacts are developed as a priority.
One of the most important factors in a successful EA initiative is having c-level sponsorship and business stakeholders to ensure the organization is aware of the initiative and its importance. It also ensures that the EA team is not working in isolation to crate artifacts that are hard for the rest of the organization to understand and gain value from. Defining EA principles upfront that are aligned with business principles and strategy also helps in setting and managing expectations throughout the initiative and gives simple to understand guidance and constraints to the EA team. It is also imperative to assess the current maturity of EA in the organization and determine a roadmap that ensues a balance of maintaining and revising the as-is architecture with activities that will enable early realization of business benefits and value.