By Henry Franken, Sven van Dijk and Bas van Gils, BiZZdesign
The discipline of enterprise architecture (EA) was developed in the 1980s with a strong focus on the information systems landscape of organizations. Since those days, the scope of the discipline has slowly widened to include more and more aspects of the enterprise as a whole. This holistic perspective takes into account the concerns of a wide variety of stakeholders. Architects, especially at the strategic level, attempt to answer the question: “How should we organize ourselves in order to be successful?”
An architecture framework is a foundational structure or set of structures for developing a broad range of architectures and consists of a process and a modeling component. The TOGAF framework and the ArchiMate modeling language – both maintained by The Open Group – are two leading and widely adopted standards in this field.
While both the TOGAF framework and the ArchiMate modeling language have a broad (enterprise-wide) scope and provide a practical starting point for an effective EA capability, a key factor is the successful embedding of EA standards and tools in the organization. From this perspective, the implementation of EA means that an organization adopts processes for the development and governance of EA artifacts and deliverables. Standards need to be tailored, and tools need to be configured in the right way in order to create the right fit. Or more popularly stated, “For an effective EA, it has to walk the walk, and talk the talk of the organization.”
EA touches on many aspects such as business, IT (and especially the alignment of these two), strategic portfolio management, project management, and risk management. EA is by definition about cooperation and therefore it is impossible to operate in isolation. Successful embedding of an EA capability in the organization is typically approached as a change project with clearly defined goals, metrics, stakeholders, appropriate governance and accountability, and with assigned responsibilities in place.
With this in mind, we share three best practices for the successful implementation of EA:
Think big, start small
The potential footprint of a mature EA capability is as big as the entire organization, but one of the key success factors for being successful with EA is to deliver value early on. Experience from our consultancy practice proves that a “think big, start small” approach has the most potential for success. This means that the process of implementing an EA capability is a process with iterative and incremental steps, based on a long term vision. Each step in the process must add measurable value to the EA practice, and priorities should be based on the needs and the change capacity of the organization.
Combine process and modeling
The TOGAF framework and the ArchiMate modeling language are a powerful combination. Deliverables in the architecture process are more effective when based on an approach that combines formal models with powerful visualization capabilities.
The TOGAF standard describes the architecture process in detail. The Architecture Development Method (ADM) is the core of the TOGAF standard. The ADM is a customer-focused and value-driven process for the sustainable development of a business capability. The ADM specifies deliverables throughout the architecture life-cycle with a focus on the effective communication to a variety of stakeholders.
ArchiMate is fully complementary to the content as specified in the TOGAF standard. The ArchiMate standard can be used to describe all aspects of the EA in a coherent way, while tailoring the content for a specific audience. Even more, an architecture repository is a valuable asset that can be reused throughout the enterprise. This greatly benefits communication and cooperation of enterprise architects and their stakeholders.
Use a tool
It is true, “a fool with a tool is still a fool.” In our teaching and consulting practice we have found, however, that adoption of a flexible and easy to use tool can be a strong driver in pushing the EA initiative forward.
EA brings together valuable information that greatly enhances decision making, whether on a strategic or more operational level. This knowledge not only needs to be efficiently managed and maintained, it also needs to be communicated to the right stakeholder at the right time, and even more importantly, in the right format.
EA has a diverse audience that has business and technical backgrounds, and each of the stakeholders needs to be addressed in a language that is understood by all. Therefore, essential qualifications for EA tools are: rigidity when it comes to the management and maintenance of knowledge and flexibility when it comes to the analysis (ad-hoc, what-if, etc.), presentation, and communication of the information to diverse audiences.
So what you are looking for is a tool with solid repository capabilities, flexible modeling and analysis functionality.
EA brings value to the organization because it answers more accurately the question: “How should we organize ourselves?” Standards for EA help monetize on investments in EA more quickly. The TOGAF framework and the ArchiMate modeling language are popular, widespread, open and complete standards for EA, both from a process and a language perspective.
EA becomes even more effective if these standards are used in the right way. The EA capability needs to be carefully embedded in the organization. This is usually a process based on a long term vision and has the most potential for success if approached as “think big, start small.” Enterprise Architects can benefit from tool support, provided that it supports flexible presentation of content, so that it can be tailored for the communication to specific audiences.
More information on this subject can be found on our website: www.bizzdesign.com. Whitepapers are available for download, and our blog section features a number of very interesting posts regarding the subjects covered in this paper.
If you would like to know more or comment on this blog, or please do not hesitate to contact us directly.
Henry Franken is the managing director of BiZZdesign and is chair of The Open Group ArchiMate Forum. As chair of The Open Group ArchiMate Forum, Henry led the development of the ArchiMate Version 2.o standard. Henry is a speaker at many conferences and has co-authored several international publications and Open Group White Papers. Henry is co-founder of the BPM-Forum. At BiZZdesign, Henry is responsible for research and innovation.
Sven van Dijk Msc. is a consultant and trainer at BiZZdesign North America. He worked as an application consultant on large scale ERP implementations and as a business consultant in projects on information management and IT strategy in various industries such as finance and construction. He gained nearly eight years of experience in applying structured methods and tools for Business Process Management and Enterprise Architecture.
Bas van Gils is a consultant, trainer and researcher for BiZZdesign. His primary focus is on strategic use of enterprise architecture. Bas has worked in several countries, across a wide range of organizations in industry, retail, and (semi)governmental settings. Bas is passionate about his work, has published in various professional and academic journals and writes for several blogs.
Copyright The Open Group, 2013. All rights reserved
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