November 14, 2007

Polarization of User Demands and Enterprise Architecture

What happens when users want conflicting things from their EA programs?

Recently, as part of a discussion following an EA briefing, I received a number of interesting comments from some users.

While multiple users talked about the EA capturing some terrific EA information that is being used for IT governance and planning, the users wanted the focus of future EA to go in different directions:

  • IT Governance—on one side of the table, one user wanted to see more IT governance and standards and less IT planning (target architecture), “since target architecture should be set by the technical subject matter experts and EA was more of a policy and management function
  • IT planning—across the table, another user wanted to see more IT planning (target architecture) and less IT governance, since “target architecture is the ‘real’ architecture, and the rest was just management.”

This sparked a lot of discussion throughout the room. Someone else asked, “Well, if you could only do one of these things well, which would you choose?” And another asked, “What is your vision for the ultimate direction of the EA program?”

To me, I believe firmly that ultimate answer to these questions is that you really need both IT planning and governance to have a viable EA program.

  • IT planning without governance—is developing and maintaining the baseline, target, and transition plan without using these to influence and drive actual decision-making. The IT plans are shelfware!
  • IT governance without planning—is trying to leverage EA information to support capital planning and investment control (CPIC) and to enhance overall organization-wide decision-making without having the necessary information to support sound decisions.

So at the end of the day, with limited resources, “which would I do?” and “what is my vision?”

You have got to do both IT planning and governance. IT planning is the process and IT governance is the implementation. One without the other would be utterly meaningless.

So with limited resources, we manage expectations and progress in a phased implementation in both areas—continually building and refining the EA information base so it is increasingly relevant (IT planning), and simultaneously, creating effective governance processes to manage IT investments in new projects, products and standards (IT governance). In this way, EA practitioners make the information useful and usable.


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