What is this “Enterprise Architecture” anyway?
Currently there’s quite heavy discussion on The EA Network about the single largest challenge of EA. Based on all those posts one can easily realize how different perceptions and understandings of EA there are. Well, so far nothing new actually. What I would like to share though is a bit different approach to positioning EA in a company.
Just recently, we started building up an official EA function in our company. In fact, it was largely there already, just not called that way and thus mostly understood by others as some “IT thing” only. With this change we had to shape our responsibilities, offer “services” and evangelize our existence and scope of our activities. In the course of our work we went through many stages of realization what the … this EA thing really is (you know that feeling, right?).
This is what we ended up with. Very wide, very inclusive and collaborative view on EA. EA in its real sense of the whole enterprise and its architecture. We created a poster accompanied with this short story:
1) There’s always an architecture in the company if you like it or not, if you manage it or not, if you are aware of it or not. In many cases unintentional and in many cases limiting. There is an architecture of business, its capabilities, information, processes, organization, people’s roles and responsibilities, there is architecture in IT, infrastructure, our business locations, branches etc.
2.) The company does not live in a bubble, there’s outer world which influences us heavily, let it be our customers, competition, suppliers, society and its perception and much more. This all we mean be Enterprise.
3.) For us the Enterprise Architecture is a holistic discipline involving many roles, leveraging information, processes and tools to decide where the company intends to go, what needs to be done to get there, how and when it should be done and then governing and managing the change in daily business towards the goals and company vision.
4.) We are all somehow related to EA, either directly on decision-making level, or indirectly via responsible persons. There’s nobody who would not be influenced on one hand and who could not influence it on the other.
5.) Purpose of the EA function in the company is to support and facilitate intentional enterprise architecture. To be more concrete: e.g. to identify current and future gaps, mis-alignment, risks, opportunities among different verticals, domains, units, people, between business and IT and so forth. Moderating discussions, bringing out transparency, clarity and commitment to carry out the change while manoeuvring through varying personal interests, viewpoints, beliefs, politics, culture… Assisting in creation of sound strategy and communicating this across the company, understanding and being able to talk different lingo.
The bottom line is: EA as a role/function is not the one doing EA, it is the one helping EA to be done by others in an efficient and effective way.
P.S. This is not the RIGHT way. It’s just A way. One of many currently out there.
Note: Credits for this work go also to Gerold ‘Cactus’ Kathan and Nenad Antic.