The Enterprise Architect’s Journey

From technology gatekeeper to transformation driver – the enterprise architect’s journey has been a long, yet compelling, one.

Paula Ziehr Paula Ziehr

Gone are the days when the enterprise architecture (EA) team’s remit was to document the lay of the land in corporate IT. That’s when modeling software was still an adequate tool for an EA practice.

But organizations came to realize that, while it may be important to understand how the pieces of the IT puzzle fit together (for example, for dependency analysis), it’s way more useful to understand how and when the puzzle pieces will change over time in response to business  needs. And now, with digitalization, it’s not only in response but in a proactive engagement with the business to say what those pieces should be to drive the digital business strategy forward.

The recent Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Architecture Management Suites, Q1 2019*, highlights strategic management (as well as technology asset management and organization design) as an important tool capability to support modern EA practices.

The report states: “As previous EA use cases become commoditized, improved technology asset management, strategic management, and organization design capabilities dictate which providers will lead the pack.”

Forrester also noted that “vendors that can provide strong strategic performance management, technology asset performance, and people architecture modeling position themselves to successfully enable their customers’ digital and customer-led transformations.

It’s fascinating to observe how EA’s responsibility has evolved. It has gone from a pure “ivory tower” IT view of the enterprise to one that is tasked with strategic and business issues. Today’s EA identifies business challenges, defines and manages strategic measures and metrics, drafts the strategic roadmap (with service, product and architecture perspectives), aligns the IT portfolio (and its planned transformation) to that roadmap – as well as divines the architectural options for strategy achievement.

Architects now use PESTLE analysis, Osterwalder and business motivation models to gather, expose and prioritize strategic challenges. They use strategy operationalization models to break down the strategy into programs and initiatives to make it executable. Strategic objective attainment is measured using business-outcome KPIs such as revenue increase or customer satisfaction and by tracking IT investment (for example, projects) as it ties into strategy.

Roadmaps are used for all aspects of strategic fulfillment, for example roadmaps for fulfillment targets, architectural deliverables (capabilities, processes, organizations, service products, applications, products, etc.), resources and implementing programs – and when possible juxtaposed with highlighted dependencies to understand conflicts and synergies.

Strategic performance management is measured in real-time and tracks business-outcome KPIs according to defined tolerance levels and to alert stakeholders if business strategy goals are endangered. Strategic performance dashboards combine reports on lagging and leading indicators, include status of strategic actions and budget burn-down.

The amount of business savoir-faire that has to be in an EA tool that is metal enough to support modern EA’s needs is met by only a few. Check them out in the Forrester report below.

*“The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Architecture Management Suites, Q1 2019, The 12 Providers That Matter Most And How They Stack Up”, Gordon Barnett, March 5, 2019