What’s Wrong With My Enterprise Architecture? – a response

Recently, a fellow Enterprise Architect reached out and asked my opinion on his article.  Below is my response:

• Enterprise Architecture has many definitions. Here is one that I tried to create in 160 characters. “EA bridges business and IT via enterprise integration/standardization resulting in people becoming more efficient and effective in achieving their objectives.”

• While there are many reasons behind failures of EA within organizations but as I see it, they essentially boil down to only one thing (i.e., lack of communication in understanding the true value of what EA brings to the organization). It takes effort from everyone (EA, Business and IT) in the organization to use EA for business transformation. Before anything else organizations need to decide:

  • Why they need/want EA? Here is a good video that alludes to this.
  • What quantitative and qualitative values does EA bring to the table?

• Unfortunately, EA has turned into merely an information collection activity and moved away from why this information is being collected in the first place. What is the strategic intent? In my observation, most EA is not strategic (e.g., the Federal Government’s use of EA)

• My biggest issue with EA these days is where it resides within the organization. These days EA reports to or is a part of IT and suffers the same fate as IT (e.g., reduced budgets, no executive representation, etc.). Ideally, EA should report into Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) or Chief Executive Officer (CEO) but not to the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

• EA is a conceptual mindset. In my view, it is not about frameworks, modeling or programming languages. EA is about a business transformation that may or may not require IT to accomplish the transformation. Blasphemy! I know ☺

• True EA is difficult to do and it takes a long-term commitment from the organization to pursue it.

In today’s business world quickness and agility are often used as a pretext/excuse for a lot of things mostly because the people using these terms just want additional lines added to their resume before they move on. To put in an analogy, what kind of car would you like to drive? One that goes really fast but has bare minimum safety or one that has optimum safety but you might get it a month late? The short answer is, it depends. Mainly it depends on what is the end goal the organization or person is trying to achieve. The same is true for EA. Without measurable end-goals, EA just becomes a complacent black hole.