Enterprise Architecture – State of affairs

There is a lot of confusion around the role of Enterprise Architect and how to be successful in such a role. Having this role buried within Information Technology Group (IT) makes the challenge even more interesting.

Challenge #1: What is an Enterprise Architect and should this role be within IT?

Recommendation: Information Technology can be a key differentiator and enabler for businesses. Walmart used technology as an enabler for supply chain efficiency. FedEx used technology as a competitive advantage for package tracking. The role of Enterprise Architect is to enable business goals such as agility, cost, mergers, divestures, competitive advantage, supply chain efficiency etc with effective use of technology. Therefore an Enterprise Architect needs to be able to have a good grasp of business processes as well as information technology.

Start by thinking of an Enterprise Architect as an architect you may hire to build your dream home. The architect needs to

  1. Understand your requirements (business requirements)
  2. Design the house within constraints of cost, people, and time (architecture)
  3. Review during the construction phase to make sure that the work of plumber, carpenter, etc meets your requirements, quality/regulatory standards, and will work with each other (governance)

Now increase the complexity due to the fact that

  1. The playing field of Enterprise Architects is not a piece of land but an already existing business
  2. The documentation on current architecture/design of business may not exist or may not be current
  3. Business owners may be able to fund projects and bypass Enterprise Architect

Since every business functions such as Finance, HR, Supply Chain etc uses IT, the Enterprise Architect role has recently been within IT. What is more important is to understand that the role of Enterprise Architect is about business enablement and the org structure needs to support their governance role.

Challenge #2: How to be successful as an Enterprise Architect?

Recommendation: The main function of Enterprise Architect is to enable and improve business. Consider following suggestions –

  1. Where are we right now?
    Learn as much as you can about current business processes, goals, and challenges. For example, one of the businesses I worked at had decided to sell off manufacturing and distribution and focus on research, design, and marketing.
  2. Where do we need to be?
    Based on the business requirement in above example, the enterprise architecture team developed “landing zone” and “reusable patterns” to determine what the business processes and IT systems needed to look like to enable faster divestures. If it takes 30 days instead of 90 days to execute a divesture, that is 60 days advantage to the business bottom line.
  3. How do we get there?
    Enforcement of Enterprise Architecture is much more challenging than defining the architecture itself.
    * Engage early on with the business and execution teams to explain your expectations.
    * Stay involved throughout the execution process so changes can be done sooner than later.
    * If you face resistance to your recommendation, identify the benefits of Enterprise Architecture in business terms such as cost and be as quantitative as possible.

Challenge #3: How to measure the value of Enterprise Architecture?

Recommendation: The benefit of enterprise architecture should be measure in the same terms as the enabled business benefits. Examples include $300M in additional revenues, $600M cost savings, $5M cost avoidance etc, defects reduced by 3% etc. In addition benefits should be measured for –

  1. Repeat Execution
    Example – For a merger, an organization took 9 months and $10 million to execute cross-manufacturing for the first set of products. The second time it took 6 months and $7 million. After a few iterations it was down to 2 weeks and $50,000.
  2. Cost Avoidance
    Compare and contrast the benefits of Enterprise Architecture with “as-is” in terms of cost and effort avoidance. Example – In the absence of Enterprise Architecture the implementation cost will be 3 times higher, Enterprise Architecture avoided $3 million cost by using a single tool, 20,000 man hours effort saved by Enterprise Architecture etc.

Following are some Key Performance Indicators that may be used to measure effectiveness of Enterprise Architecture. These are especially useful if measured routinely and shown as a trend over a period of time –

* % projects that use Enterprise Architecture

* % projects that score high on Enterprise Architecture reviews

* # of defects caught before going live

* # of defects caught after going live

* $ saved in cost avoidance


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