The future of enterprise architecture is here, where the enterprise architect is an excellent coach and communicator, and the architectural groundwork k is done by the organization.
Having worked with several enterprise architects in different organizations, too often have I found a team of architects not being involved in the core problem-solving action but instead sitting on the side, desperately trying to figure out how technologies are interconnected and how they relate to different business aspects. This academic-like focus actually makes sense when the purpose of Enterprise Architecture is seen as “understanding the relations between processes, data and technology” – which is often the case. However, stopping short at understanding will only lead to endless theorizing and model making. The value-add comes first when the understanding is put into practice when making decisions.
How to build a modern enterprise architecture capability
The value of enterprise architecture should therefore be seen as how well knowledge about the “relations between processes, data and technoglogy” is integrated with general tactical and strategic decision making. This includes decisions not only related to changing/building solutions but also on reducing costs, minimizing risks, balancing project portfolios, or planning competency development programs. Luckily, this has actually never been easier.
To build a modern enterprise architecture capability that is an integral part of strategic and tactical decision making, here are four concrete tips:
Invest in a collaborative architecture tool that is fun to work with and has ample out-of-the-box features. Such tools, like LeanIX, generally make the enterprise architecture domain less scary to approach and naturally involve different roles and perspectives (e.g. Platform Owners, Portfolio Managers, Software Asset Managers, IT financial controllers).
Staff your enterprise architecture team with business analysts with leadership potential rather than technicians wanting to take another step in their career. Not knowing too much about details drives collaboration as the architects need to involve others to seek up the answers – which in turn drives quality assurance and diffusion of knowledge.
Make the architecture team small on purpose. This forces the team to involve both IT and business professionals in the groundwork, such as classifying the business criticality of applications. You will be surprised how far you can get with two good enterprise architects and a modern tool.
Involve enterprise architects in projects and business dialogues early. Pragmatism is always needed, and the architects need to be involved in finding those pragmatic compromises to not turn them into an uninformed bureaucratic blob.
At Dyve, we take pride in being the CIO's best friend, advising on any topic at the intersection of business and technology – where enterprise architecture naturally plays a key part. If you want to talk more about how to leverage effective Enterprise Architecture or anything else that will help you reach your strategic objectives, let’s meet up for a coffee or a beer!