Six Steps for Enterprise Architecture as Strategy

Note: This article is updated at 6 Steps to Build a Strong Foundation for Execution.

One of my new favorite books is, Enterprise Architecture as Strategy, by Jeanee W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson.  My colleague, Danny Cohen recommended it as one of the best books on enterprise strategy and I agree.

A big focus of the book is on execution and how to build a strong foundation for execution.  The key is an effective enterprise architecture.  With an effective enterprise architecture, you can improve business agility, achieve higher profitability, reduce time to market, lower IT costs, improve access to shared customer data, lower the risk of mission-critical systems failures.  Enterprise architecture as strategy means your enterprise architecture is addressing two key challenges: 1) integration and 2) standardization across the company.

Six Steps to Build a Foundation for Execution
Here are six steps Ross, Weill, and Robertson identify for re-thinking a foundation for execution and creating and effective enterprise architecture:

  • Step 1 –Analyze your existing foundation for execution.
  • Step 2 – Define your operating model.
  • Step 3 – Design your enterprise architecture.
  • Step 4 – Set priorities.
  • Step 5 – Design and implement an IT engagement model.
  • Step 6 – Exploit your foundation for execution for growth.

Summary Table and Notes
In this table, I  summarized key notes along with each step:

Step Notes
Step 1 - Analyze your existing foundation for execution
  • Identify digitized processes.
  • Figure out which processes are mission critical transactions.
  • Identify elements of IT that are world-class.
  • Evaluate the reach, security, data access, and flexibility you need.
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses in your foundation.
Step 2 - Define your operating model
  • Identify the processes that differentiate you competitively
  • Envision your ideal customer experience.
  • Determine how you want to grow (acquire or grow related businesses, expand globally, acquire competitors, offer more products and services.)
Step 3 - Design your enterprise architecture.
  • Map out the essence of your business – your foundation for execution (companywide business processes, shared data, key technologies, and critical customer interfaces.)
Step 4 - Set priorities.
  • Highlight priorities on the core architecture diagram (the base that the future capabilities depend on)
  • Align the project portfolio to match the enterprise architecture
Step 5 - Design and implement an IT engagement model.
  • Create a formal IT engagement model (1) IT governance at senior levels, 2) disciplined project management across all major projects, 3) linkages that ensure IT governance and project management reinforce each other.
Step 6- Exploit your foundation for execution for growth.
  • Plan to cash in on the benefits.
  • Allocate generous funding for training and development.
  • Align incentives so people are motivated to exploit the foundation.
  • Encourage and reward creativity.