The importance of enterprise architecture (EA) was self-evident even before the rapid digital transformation enforced by the pandemic. The failure of as many as 66% of current EA projects suggests that, particularly since shifts towards remote working, successful EA has begun to feel like less of a realistic goal.
This doesn’t mean that EA is any less critical. If anything, the levels of disruption we are currently seeing across the economy make it more important than ever. Primarily because of these digital complications, 76% of Gartner respondents are now in the process of starting, restarting, or renewing their EA practices.
Effective enterprise architecture management (EAM) increases the chances that they’ll succeed, but what exactly does EAM done right look like in 2022 and beyond?
Suggested reading: If you want even more detail than provided in this document, check out our new eBook — The Definitive Enterprise Architecture Blueprint.
Step 1: Set goals
If you do not have clear goals for your enterprise architecture project, you will be unable to focus on the right things. Fundamentally, these outcomes need to be aligned with strategic and tactical business objectives. However, long-term planning can be complicated in an ever-changing economy.
Strategies to help
Your overarching goals should be big-picture to avoid constantly changing your business strategy. Fundamentally, you need to sit down and think about what you want to achieve. Examples could be:
Save money: Whether this is on costs and outgoings or by simply streamlining what you are currently spending to focus and prioritize where your money is going, setting a clear objective on how you wish to save money will achieve more beneficial results. An example of this could be looking at which applications are not necessary to your goal or service multiple purposes.
Improve efficiency: Setting a specific goal on where you want to be more efficient can help you and the targets see positive results sooner. Again, this can be focused on applications and tools, where one can provide more than one service or be used for better cross-business communication.
Increase your speed to market: Goal and objective setting keeps you and the business focused on where you want to head and can be a constant reminder to keep you all on track to the next checkpoint. This can be detailed with a solid strategic plan shared among those needed on reaching this goal, looking at where the focus needs to be placed, and even breaking the goal into monthly/weekly targets to aim for regularly.
Enterprise architecture tools that make it easier to align EA seamlessly with long-term goals and granular focuses through data ingest, visualization, modeling, and more can simplify this business process. Which will provide a clearer idea of the information you should be focusing on, the plans you need to put in place, and your future trajectory. Clear governance structures like architecture review boards allow you to review, oversee, and ultimately manage the ongoing setting of goals that drive change in the right direction.
Step 2: Map your existing architecture
Once you have your goals in place, it’s time to map your existing architecture. This will enable you to identify weaknesses and strengths, such as software solutions that work or inter-department visualizations that need attention. It is undoubtedly imperative for helping EA perform better as it stands and inform in-the-moment, adaptable solutions that enable ongoing, effective management.
The big-picture thinking of complete EA mapping can help you steer clear of distracting subcomponents that can otherwise knock your efforts off-course. This will help you keep goals at the forefront and ensure that you focus only on elements of EA that best help you work towards them.
Strategies to help
Holistic oversight is the only way to ensure a clear enough EA picture for the development of strategic planning and should include:
Business: Looking at your business as a whole and the outlined goal or ‘reason for existing’ is clear and consistent. This would be an opportunity to look at your current goals or whether any areas have lost sight of the objectives initially put in place.
Data: This can be linked with the information you have and what you want or should be tracking/referring to when outlining objectives and goals.
Application: Focusing from a broad perspective on how your business applies its current tools and information, ensuring that this is the correct approach or way of working in line with goals and objectives.
Technology: When considering the targets you want to achieve, do you have the appropriate equipment, technology, software to complete this objective efficiently, or are there any areas in which you can develop further?
The complexity of this goal is perhaps the most significant reason for the unraveling of EA in the first place, especially given the fact that holistic strategies need to develop quickly enough that components haven’t changed in the interim. The more you can automate the collection of enterprise data, the better. EA software provides a single repository for that information which can directly merge with your existing strategic databases.
Fundamentally, the toolset that you deploy has a massive impact on the strategies you're able to take, which brings us to step 3...
Step 3: Procure the right toolset
Enterprise Architecture can be handled in tools like Microsoft Excel, but they need to utilize multiple tools for one purpose, and the risk of getting stuck on manual processes in this manner means that this is rarely right for modern solutions. Instead, procuring the right toolset requires considering ways to simplify already overloaded tech stacks instead of adding to them, enabling streamlined processes that help you towards overall EA goals rather than adding yet more considerations to manage in the grand scheme of things.
Strategies to help
What you need is holistic EA software built for purpose. This is what we set out to do at Orbus with iServer365 — which was recently named an industry leader in the 2021 Forrester Wave Report. Although far from the only solution on the market, there are some critical features that you should look out for in any EA tool you deploy. These include:
Native integration and data unification
Core discipline support for every enterprise
Visualizations and dynamic reports
Standardized and automated EA outputs
Taken together, these can help you towards responsive EAM that adapts to what you need, rather than requiring you to shape your enterprise around tools that don’t serve your purpose.
Step 4: Get buy-in
Without support at both leadership and operational level, enterprise architecture is unlikely to be effective, significantly as inter-department issues like shadow IT further complicate your efforts. It’s only by prioritizing buy-ins that get everyone on board with EA outlines and applications that you know to be effective that you can genuinely enjoy benefits such as:
Higher adoption rates
Generally improved efficiency
Nobody likes being told what to do, which means making all of this possible depends on your ability to offer viable solutions to real challenges and communicate them in ways that everyone can get behind.
Strategies to help
Successful enterprise architecture needs to both communicate your intentions/reasoning and understand the challenges that EA needs to address in the first place. Regular meetings with stakeholders and department workers can help get that ball rolling.
Fundamentally, enterprise architecture tools make it easier to understand problem areas and communicate resulting changes that will prove most effective. The visualizations, models, and projections offered by tools like iServer365 can enable the sharing of plans, potential outcomes, and overall value to include professionals in every stage of this process. Which will also ensure two-way flexibility to make room for what they need the moment they need it without once having to say ‘no’.
Step 5: Research EA frameworks without being limited by them
EA frameworks have been a long-term staple of enterprise architecture. However, leading EA architects have started to take a more flexible approach. EA frameworks that focus on planning, conceptualization, and rationalization might seem like they provide all of the answers, but they more often end up limiting your capabilities with their rigidity. That’s not to say that sparingly applied frameworks aren’t still valid, but focusing on ‘ultimate solutions’ treated as end-goals rather than journeys can also be constraining and ineffective. Fluidity and flexibility are essential in an ever-adapting approach to EA.
EA should use frameworks to inform more agile, customized approaches to be successful. Understanding your options is the best way to ensure this, allowing you to take the best from each framework and make it work for, rather than against you as part of a much broader EAM focus.
Strategies to help
Understanding frameworks is your best bet at applying them in a way that works, especially regarding the three most commonly used options — the Zachman Framework, TOGAF (The Open Group Architecture Framework), and FEAF (Federal Enterprise Architecture). These frameworks, along with others, are theoretical, which means that they focus on planning and rationalization. While these are essential parts of EA, the overall point is to improve your business’s capabilities, efficiency, and communication.
So, if not frameworks, then what? The key answer and focus should be flexibility. This means that you need to be selfish in your approach to this. What are you trying to achieve? It is crucial to identify what you want as goals, what information you may need, and what industry-specific requirements you have.
This means that an action-oriented software like iServer365 built by us takes the best of these frameworks and combines that with other crucial elements of successful EA to overcome challenges is your best shot at success.
Suggested reading: If you want to learn more about our action-oriented software and if frameworks really matter, check out our blog — Do Enterprise Architecture Frameworks Matter?
Step 6: Execute in small, incremental steps
EA frameworks that aim towards end goals can prevent the agility and flexibility that EA solutions ultimately need. Shifting your mindset towards taking steps that make meaningful differences in the now with EA execution is the action that is far more efficient for the delicate handling required in modern business.
This is the difference between treating EA as a single project rather than an ongoing management focus in many ways. The former delays the short-term, large-scale planning that it misses the details that matter, while the latter addresses more minor, granular issues at the moment, solving them, thus helping you move towards ever-evolving business goals that can more easily shift without losing the work you’ve already put in.
Strategies to help
Understanding everything from EA objectives to the scope of a project and even the information you need to collect can help you break EA into smaller steps more accurately. The software enabling you to plan and execute those specified focuses with the benefits of flexibility, speed, and accessibility can help towards control and transparency without losing all-important oversight.
The ability to communicate small focuses in real-time enables a more responsive approach to EA that addresses specific challenges with feedback from the people most affected. This ensures that you’re always focusing on priorities that provide value, and therefore gain the all-important support for overall control and long-term buy-in at last.
Fundamentally, effective Enterprise Architecture Management relies on your outlook and your software. Get both in check by booking your iServer365 demo today.