Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The "Enterprise" attribute of Enterprise Architecture

Here is an excerpt from an article by Ken Karacsony in Computerworld. Again, I do not want to enter into the debate of Enterprise Architect vs. Enterprise IT Architect but I do mean to express that the “Enterprise” condition does require a holistic view. Ken clearly shows by example how broadening his perspective led to a cost saving far beyond the benefits that were achieved by the initial focus on applications and technology.

CIO at NASA, who mentioned that implementing enterprise architecture, had really helped his agency develop a mature IT organization and control IT-related costs.

I had to agree, but the topic of EA is far more complex than that

A properly defined and implemented EA initiative can result in greater efficiency and lowered IT cost of ownership...but...too often with EA, IT organizations miss the mark.

The first thing to realize is that there are four main areas of EA, covering business processes, data, applications and technology. All four need to be adequately represented if your EA is going to be robust.

The application and technology architectures are well worked out, but those are secondary architectures ...It's the business process and data architectures that are foundational. Failing to adequately develop them will leave your EA effort flat.

Let me give you an example:

Context: Working for a client who wanted to streamline the billing process. (defining requirements and developing a vendor RFP).

As part of the RFP process, the architecture group submitted various technology requirements and standards. This technology architecture provided value in governing the technologies that would be considered. But that alone doesn't constitute an EA.

Digging into business processes, I poked around the company and learned that a billing system was already being used in another part of the organization. I found that the application covered about 85% of the business requirements and that we could expand its use with no new licenses or hardware required.

Through business process architecture, we discovered duplication of work, and the application architecture function determined that new software and hardware were not needed.

The savings for this company were impressive and resulted from EA in action.

The data piece

Savings through the elimination of redundant data, databases and ETL processes. In addition to saving money, companies benefited from improved data quality simply by removing redundant data stores.

Having an EA program is a necessity. It allows an organization to effectively manage current technology while planning for intelligent growth of future technology investments. It also allows a company to identify and eliminate unnecessary waste, thereby reducing costs.

You may...need some outside help to jump-start the program or gain insight into the reasons why your EA effort is not producing the value it should.

Most importantly, however, is to remember that enterprise architecture is much more than just applications and technology. The primary disciplines of your program are business and data architectures


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