Enterprise architecture (EA) refers to the activity of designing IT strategy, systems, processes, and organizations to directly align to business unit strategy and goals in response to disruptive forces. EA delivers value by allowing business and IT leaders to have a recipe for adjusting policies and projects to achieve business outcomes in response to disruptions.
As a CIO how can you use Enterprise Architecture to transform the way that your business runs? You need to examine your approach to EA. Here are six questions you should ask to help you do that:
- Does your EA team focus on standards and the enforcement of standards? If so, loosen the standards and create frameworks instead. The framework components should be coupled to elements of the business strategic plan and roadmap. Key questions that the EA team should be asking about the EA components:
- Does it support the potential for new markets?
- Does it support the displacement or elimination of competition?
- Will it move customer’s business into new markets?
- Will it reduce the cost of on-going operations (keeping the lights on)?
- Does it support the growth within existing markets?
- Is your EA team comprised of mostly IT people? It’s essential to get out of the “ivory tower” and make sure there are at least equal number of business representatives on the EA team as there are IT representatives.
- Does your EA governance and decision making focus on standards and the adoption of standards? If so, enable governance in a way that promotes innovation and driving the business instead of critiquing the solution against the standards.
- Do you measure success and the performance of the EA team by how they manage standards and adherence to standards? If so, change the way you measure success. Measure performance in terms of how closely EA supports the strategic business outcomes (such as improved customer support, better product quality, less defects, growth in market share, etc.) and how well EA delivers on improving business technology (i.e. cheaper, better, faster).
- Is your EA team focused on tools that don’t add value and support the points above? If so, be willing to give up the tools in place today and either get new tools or start over. Be sure to understand the business requirements before focusing on a tool or set of tools.
- Do your teams believe that implementation equates to done? If so, change the belief that implementation means completion. It’s a journey not a destination.
Whatever you do and how you approach EA it is important to ensure EA reflects the ambitions of the business and accepts being driven by the stakeholders. Without buy in and active participation from the business, EA may as well stay locked up in the “ivory tower” with its tools and adherence to standards. If you choose to ignore Enterprise Architecture and its power to transform you will miss the opportunity to make a positive mark on the company’s performance.