Reasons that business may come asking for “Enterprise Architecture”

This article could also be entitled “Reasons business may come asking for help, where enterprise architecture thinking and techniques can be applied (without mentioning EA)”

At the start of 2010 I was working on developing the “Enterprise Architecture” service offering for a consulting firm in Australia. As I thought through the development of this capability I started by considering the demand and who the demand would come from.

The consulting firm revenue model is based on providing professional services and frankly virtually no one in Australian business has the first clue what EA is and nor should they. So selling enterprise architecture in my view would be poor strategy (unless a client asks for it directly) If I’m out there trying to sell “EA” to executives I have almost certainly failed on a number of levels.

Defining enterprise architecture, understanding enterprise architecture frameworks and other forms of trivia are useful for practitioners leaning what EA is and how to do it. This is in the same way as knowing what a car is and how the accelerator works is useful for learner drivers.

Enterprise architecture is not the driving but the destination and the journey, including the human meaning (emotion) of the experience and the people that help or hinder you in arriving at the end point of each trip or at each way point in your ongoing travels. EA is also much like all of the things that go into designing a formula one car and winning a formula one race with all of its pitfalls and hard learned lessons. If you can only afford one EA, hire one that can tell the tales of their battle scars; those guys are far more likely to understand the human dimension for enterprise architecture that is missing from just about all of the literature on EA.

So selling enterprise architecture is like offering driving lessons to someone that just want’s to go on holidays to a wonderful (valuable) place. In order to get an idea of what service offerings we should develop, I thought through the types of business problems that the staff in the consulting firm might be hearing from business people in their dealings.

Some examples of problems that I have heard from business people (clients) this year include:

  • (CEO) “My project portfolio has too many failures”
  • (CEO) “Magazine subscriptions are in decline I need to find a new revenue model”
  • (Chief Strategy Officer) “We don’t have a good handle on our information, we can provide better service if only we could combine our data more easily”
  • (Chief Marketing Officer) “How can I get more revenue out of my existing customers and reduce churn?” & “I want a 360 degree view of my customers.”
  • (Government CEO) “A new regulation has been passed how can I understand the impact?”
  • (Banking Executive) “How can we differentiate from our competitors”

Below is a list of a few areas where I have applied enterprise architecture to respond to business concerns. I have listed a few areas that I can think of where EA can be applied to address business concerns. From this it would be easy to identify some ‘services’ that EAs can provide and some of these can be readily packaged as solutions for consultancy firms to take to market.

Strategic Planning

  • Business strategic planning (Define the corporate Vision, Goals, Strategy & Objectives)
  • Define the business technology (the artist formerly known as “IT”) component of corporate strategic planning
  • Demonstrate alignment (or otherwise) between any two or all of the following:
    •   business strategy
    •   business capabilities
    •   business process
    •   information assets
    •   application assets
    •   technology assets
    •   any other useful viewpoint
  • Facilitate Innovation Strategy
  • Provide technology trend & hype curve analysis
  • Provide an evidence basis for asset portfolio management (lumps & gaps analysis + asset valuation)
  • Provide an evidence basis asset life cycle forecasting & management
  • Provide an evidence basis & structured approach to guide initiative (i.e. projects & programs)
  • portfolio management

Governance: Provide an evidence basis & structured approach for

  • Investment Governance (Decision frameworks)
  • Business Case development
  • Business case options development & review
  • Architectural Governance
  • Performance measurement
  • Integrated risk assessment & management

Strategy Execution

  • Connecting strategy, to execution (initiatives) and assurance (outcome measurement)
  • Program & Initiative management \ assurance \ recovery
  • Policy implementation planning \ impact assessment
  • Business process enhancement & automation
  • Information management maturity
  • Compliance & reporting

Managing complexity (businesses that have so many or such complex problems they don’t know where to start)

  • Major Initiatives
  • Provide a method for roadmap development
  • Facilitate change management:
  • Use EA to articulate the changes that need to be made to achieve planned outcomes so that all participants have a common understanding of the change and the outcome
  • Use EA to help understand the human aspects of change (ADKAR)
  • Major system design &  implementation (e.g. ERP/CRM)
  • Legacy systems upgrade. (How do I make a change to a complex system)
  • Capacity forecasting and management (The capacity of people & of things)
  • Solution architecture & design services (Some people still think this is EA. They’re right and wrong. If you can’t handle right & wrong coexisting you’re probably not going to be a good EA)
  • M & A or divestment planning & execution

Outright architecture definition

  • Define the Business architecture
  • Define the Information architecture
  • Define the Application architecture
  • Define the Technology architecture
  • SOA implementation
  • Define the Security architecture

Raw EA Capability Development

  • EA maturity assessment
  • EA skills profiling
  • EA coaching and mentoring
  • EA skills training
  • EA recruitment & selection

PS – This post was prompted by reading the ever-insightful @nickmalik ‘s blog post “How many business architects do you need?”  http://j.mp/aIvPa7 and I wondered if he had also developed a list of #entarch / #bizarch services.

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