The Value of EA

What can Enterprise Architecture do for you

Most businesses struggle with strategy execution to some level. Defining where you want to be is the easy part, getting there is the hard part. By the corporate watercooler, Enterprise Architecture is usually mentioned as the vehicle to take you there, but what is Enterprise Architecture and how can you use it to your advantage?

Enterprise Architecture is a well-defined practice for conducting enterprise analysis, design, planning and implementation using a holistic approach at all times, for a successful development and execution of strategy. The word Enterprise in this context refers to an organizational unit, organization or a collection of those who share common goals and collaborate to provide products and services to customers.

An Enterprise Architecture consists of cohesive models that describe the structure and function of an enterprise. Similar to a roadmap or a project plan to reach the target state from the current state. As such, Enterprise Architecture is a powerful and important strategy realization or implementation tool, if done correctly.

For all businesses, change is constant. Today, change happens faster than ever. Market forces shift, new technologies threaten to disrupt existing markets and change the market dynamics, slowing growth for existing businesses and even render some business models obsolete. We’ve seen the rise of Airbnb, Über and the sharing economy. Tesla has positioned itself as a leading electric car maker, redefining the car market, leaping ahead of its competitors.

For most businesses, implementing and executing on strategic initiatives is a challenge. Synchronizing the Project pipeline with strategic initiatives is hard enough, not to mention when those initiatives cross departmental boundaries and multiple stakeholders with different missions and visions.

An EA practice delivers business value by producing several results, including but not limited to: * Articulation of the Enterprise’s strategies. * Models of the current state, that can be used to clarify current challenges and identify ways forward. * Models of the future state which illustrate how the Enterprise should look to support the business strategy. * A road map, or a prioritized project charter including the projects required to change.

The projects listed on the road map can help deliver value such as

  • Reduced cost of ownership (TCO) and cost savings (TCS) through identification of redundant activities, removal of legacy systems and leveraging common or simple solutions to otherwise complex and expensive problems.
  • Process improvements such as reduced transaction or cycle times, improved efficiency or reduced cycle or transaction costs.
  • Innovation in organization structure, improving collaboration and communication.
  • Improved enterprise agility through improved strategy execution capabilities.
  • Clarification and documentation of business rules resulting in reduced time to market, lower operational risk and easier request fulfillment processes.
  • Spending alignment, making sure your spending helps you deliver the strategic intent.

There is a myriad of enterprise architecture frameworks and methods. Most of them are so big that they only suit government departments or organizations, and all of them need to be tailored to fit your organization. The most popular frameworks today are

  • TOGAF, although called a framework could be better described as a process.
  • Zachman, self-described as a framework but could be better described as a taxonomy.
  • Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA), can be viewed as a methodology for creating an Enterprise Architecture.
  • Gartner, can be described as an enterprise architecture practice, or a library of loosely connected resources for enterprise architects.

To successfully implement an Enterprise Architecture and reap its benefits, the enterprise Architecture Practice needs to go through it’s four stages of delivering value, but different frameworks have different approaches to deliver that value.

High level EA process and its major value delivery stages

High level EA process and its major value delivery stages

Should you decide to start an EA practice to improve your strategic execution, increase the Enterprise Agility as well as reduce costs and increase alignment, these are some of the steps we recommend

  1. Establish an Enterprise Architecture team and identify stakeholders.
  2. Review and understand your enterprises’ business priorities and strategies.
  3. Model your business architecture.
  4. Model the current state of your enterprise.
  5. Determine where you need to be in the future and craft a roadmap there.

Presto, you are done! Now all you need to do is iterate and re-iterate, reaping the benefits of Enterprise Architecture as you go.

Not sure where to start, or what models to use, we might be able to help.

Jón Grétar Guðjónsson