16 Enterprise Architecture Strategies Learned The Hard Way
We’ve been spending time thinking through the differences in implementing new or improving existing EA capabilities for smaller, say a few billion in revenue and larger firms in the Fortune 100 or thereabouts. Because the larger firms tend to have many complex, often unrelated business units, the role of centralized IT functions can also be quite complex, even unclear. Furthermore, centralized enterprise functions have many challenges in driving standards throughout diverse, geographically scattered units.
Here is our hard-earned list of strategies, observations, insights and lessons learned over a collective 55+ years of EA and IT strategy work with over 100 companies. See what you think and what you would add (or disagree with).
- An exhaustive enterprise level blueprint is virtually impossible to build – it’s too big and no one will buy-in
- The best strategy blends a direction-setting enterprise blueprint and business unit and domain blueprints
- Centralized accountability for the EA function is a predictor of success
- A centralized team of architects is critical in driving EA standards and approaches
- Architects must be assigned to projects as core team members (60%+ of total EA FTEs) rather than “advisors”
- EA should be measured in 2 ways: business capabilities delivered and costs of core services
- Measure EA as an asset – what does it cost to provide the service and what return does the business get from the business capabilities delivered?
- Architecture leadership requires strong management, business operations and technology skills, most likely in 3 different types of people; don’t expect your chief architect to run the EA function
- Methods and governance must be integrated into existing work processes (eg, project approvals, SDLC) rather than a new overlay
- Enterprise Architecture is not always the best name for communicating; maybe Strategy & Planning or Enterprise Transformation is better
- The best large companies have “business architecture” teams reporting to the business (or dual reporting to business and IT)
- Leading companies have reference architectures in place for 90% of the technical domains
- Your senior enterprise architects must have the right cultural skills and awareness to integrate well with upstream business partners and downstream technical users
- High performance groups maintain consistent, formalized EA involvement in the SDLC to translate blueprints into sufficiently detailed starting architectures for each project as well as accurate cost and resource estimates
- Mature organizations target 40% EA resource time for strategic planning and 60% on SDLC tasks, and typically err on spending more time on SDLC tasks
- Strong credibility and trust amongst Business and IT partners is a predictor of EA success. Credibility has typically been gained via joint strategic planning efforts, one project at a time.