September 19, 2008

Three Branches of Government and Enterprise Architecture

The constitution, as we all know, sets up a wonderful form of government with three branches--the legislative, executive, and judicial--which function holistically and with checks and balances.

Architecture and Governance Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 2, has an article called “IT Architecture in Action” by Richard Reese that compares the major steps of architecture to the branches of our government, as follows:

  • The legislative branch—“sets the policy [and] establishes technical direction” To me, the legislative aspect of architecture is carried out by the EA program. The program develops the methodology, framework, policies, and processes, and develops the architecture blueprints for our organizations. Of course, EA does this based on the requirements of the organization, just as congress sets direction based on the needs and wishes of their constituents (i.e. this is the way it is supposed to work).
  • The judicial branch—“creates and runs the ‘governing body,’ which manages compliance and recommends changes to policy and standards.” This is clearly the EA board (EAB) and Investment Review Board (IRB). The EAB reviews new and major changes to IT projects, products, and standards and provides findings and recommendations to the Investment Review Board, which issues decisions on authorizing, prioritizing, and funding the IT projects.

While the article does not address the executive branch, I would add it in to the analogy like this:

  • The executive branch—implements the EA through day-to-day management of business and technology. This is done by the line of business program/project managers and IT professionals! They ensure the business requirements and technical solutions align to and comply with architecture. They implement the letter and spirit of the target architecture and transition plan by implementing segment and solutions architectures for the operation of the business and it technology support

Just as the three branches of government cannot function without each other, so to the functions of an enterprise architecture program cannot be successful without the others. The EA program sets the overall architectural policy and direction; the EAB and IRB vets and adjudicates the IT investments in accordance with the architecture; the business and technical professional executes or carries out the architecture with programs and projects to meet the business strategic, tactical, and operational needs.

Similar to the three branches of government, the EA program, boards, and business/technical professionals are each separate, but work together and counter balance each other to establish architecture direction, interpret it on a project by project basis, and execute those projects to modernize and transform the organization.


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1 comment:

Mike Walker said...

I wrote a similar post last year on this very same topic.

I guess great minds think a like...

http://blogs.msdn.com/mikewalker/archive/2007/09/13/enterprise-architecture-analogy.aspx

Regards,
Mike Walker