February 7, 2008

Adding Value and Enterprise Architecture

What is the value-add of enterprise architecture?

In Architecture and Governance Magazine, Volume 4 Issue 1, an article entitled, “Architecture Planning” addresses this issue.

The author proposes that EA must find a balance between the necessity to “build and populate an EA framework with the effort to provide effective project support.”

With the wrong balance of these, the author, states: “you end up with an ivory tower [initiative] that delivers no value, or with a project support service that makes project-level architecture decisions rather than taking into account the enterprise perspective.”

The article sums up: “to reiterate, the architecture plan needs to meet two objectives. One, deliver an EA; two, deliver value to projects.”

From my perspective, the two objectives presented are not accurate. It is not a choice or balance between building EA or adding project value—never! Rather, it is always about adding value.

EA is never done for EA’s sake. That is not an objective.

Everything that EA does is to add value—either by fulfilling insight or oversight needs of the organization.

  1. Insight—EA provides valuable information products to end-users in terms of business and technical information. EA captures, analyzes, catalogues, and provides findings and recommendation, which is used to aid IT planning and governance, and decision-making.
  2. Oversight—EA provides valuable governance services by conducting architectural reviews of IT projects, products, and standards, thereby enabling sound IT investment decisions and more successful project delivery.

The article proposes that the organization should “initiate two streams of work. One identifies the framework within which enterprise-level information will be captured and shared, and the second focuses on identifying the key areas of need for projects…[i.e.] the need to provide real value to projects”

However, I would suggest that the two streams of work are not developing the EA framework and the need to provide “real value” to projects, but rather that the EA program develop both information products and governance services--simultaneously, both of which benefit the end-users and add value to the enterprise.

Further, the information products and governance services are mutually reinforcing. Technical reviews, conducted as part of the governance services, feed valuable information to the EA information products. And information products are used to conduct the architectural reviews by providing the basis for aligning to and complying with the EA baseline, target, and transition plan.

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