Enterprise Architecture News Issue 1, March 2013

posted Mar 13, 2013, 8:43 PM by Krish Ayyar
Enterprise Architecture (EA) as an alternative approach to solving the age old problems of IT, keeps coming back on the agenda for many medium to large enterprises. Many times, the Board and Corporate Leadership have heard of the term but do not know exactly what to expect, IT implements it in a limited way and the whole thing falls apart because of failure to meet expectations only to come back to the table at a later time. In this series, I will discuss how EA can be used effectively so that everybody gets on the same page.
 
How many times have you heard of large ERP projects being abandoned or re-birthed multiple times? Often these are blamed on mavericks who don’t last long. The result is millions of dollars wasted.  The question now is, what agreed rules and guidelines can be used as a basis for decision making to avoid such wastage? Using EA techniques to define a set of IT Principles incorporating Architecture Principles governed by an IT and Business Leadership provides the answer.  Zachman Framework’s “Why?” interrogative from the Planner’s perspective covers this Building Block of EA and Open Group’s TOGAF has an excellent technique for defining Principles in such a way that they don’t end up as motherhood statements or as  “Shelf Ware”.
 
The custodian of these Principles should be the Architecture Review Board (ARB) made of IT and Business Leaders. TOGAF provides ample guidance on how to set up an ARB, define the processes, conduct compliance reviews etc. This will ensure that only those projects which are traceable to Business Goals and Objectives are ever approved. In many cases, it may be too late to roll back existing projects which can not be linked to Business Strategy but at least the non-compliance can be highlighted to the entire leadership of the enterprise and a conscious effort can be made to align them at a more appropriate time. Those Projects which are at their early stages can be acted upon immediately.
 
Do I have your attention now? Now you can start to see the benefits of EA apart from being just a “Design”.

I hear you say, "Yes, but we already have a set of Principles". How many of you can honestly say that your current principles are being used as part of Architecture / IT Governance? Are they there just for reference, to be "Cut and Past"ed in documents and then forgotten? When was the last time they were reviewed in light of new business strategies or drivers or technology? If you do not have a good answer to these questions, it is time for a review.
 
Of Course, defining and institutionalizing Principles is not a trivial task. You need to consider Business Goals and Objectives, Specific Stakeholder concerns, your Business Operating Model, Business and Technology Drivers etc.,You also need to socialize the principles  with the Leadership team and get  consensus etc.,. Getting professional help is strongly recommended. 
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