All you need to know about an Enterprise Architecture Practice

The area of Enterprise Architecture is a broad field. It helps to manage and align IT, but also IT with business, becoming a foundation of every digital transformation. It provides governance that streamlines IT activities, facilitates collaboration, and ensures compliance. It does so by managing principles, guidelines, frameworks, tools, approaches, and processes that cover all architecture layers, such as business architecture, application architecture, data and information systems architecture, and technology architecture.

The purpose of Enterprise Architecture can vary a lot between different organizations and depends on the prioritized use cases. Sometimes, the goal is to develop a new IT demand management process, sometimes, the goal is to assess data that is required for a particular process.

In order to deal with such different expectations, it is only natural that Enterprise Architecture needs a broad spectrum of capabilities to be able to provide such different services. In the following, I provide a brief overview of strategic, operational, and supportive topics that are expected from an established and well-working enterprise architecture organization.

1. Strategic EA Capabilities

Enterprise Architecture needs to be closely aligned to the business and to various strategies. It does so by either translating the business requirements or breaking-down the strategies into plans, principles, and standards that IT can work with. This category of EA capabilities helps Enterprise Architecture to find its position in an enterprise and to establish the high-level strategy, frameworks, and alignments. The following eight capabilities are part of this category:

Business-IT alignment

Business-IT alignment covers the demand management process and the collaboration in the area of business innovation, digital strategy, and the impact of business strategies on IT strategies.

EA strategic planning

EA strategic planning is the capability of the Enterprise Architecture department to identify, develop, and manage EA use cases and their priorities within an organization. This does also include the development of new Enterprise Architecture capabilities and a strategic planning for them.

EA principles management

EA principles represent a core input for operational and domain architects during their daily work. The identification of good principles, the harmonization, communication, and the governance of them is a key Enterprise Architecture capability.

EA layers management

EA layers of an organization are determined by the framework applied. EA layers must fit to the business model and the industry of an organization. EA layers will have a strong impact on the architecture roles, committees, and processes and it must be ensured that the layers set the right focus and priorities on the IT landscape.

Integration architecture management

In today´s world, integration architecture becomes increasingly important. Integration layers and APIs need to be managed, as well as an overall strategy regarding integration interfaces and boundaries.

EA roadmap management

Enterprise Architecture needs to be constantly developed further and the strategic planning needs to be implemented. To ensure this is the EA roadmap management capability.

Business capabilities management

Business capabilities became very popular in the recent past and are used for a wide variety of use cases in the areas of alignment, harmonization, strategic planning, and demand and software management. Developing and managing the right business capability maps for the right use cases is covered in this capability.

Organisational data and information strategy

The amount of data and information within organizations is increasingly exponentially. At the same time, regulations introduce new constraints. The result is an increased importance of the management of data and information strategies, including use cases, business models, and strategic development of the topic.

2. Operative EA Capabilities

Operative EA capabilities cover the actual doing of Enterprise Architecture activities. This includes, but is not limited to the operational implementation, operationalization, and governance of EA in and across every business domain of the organization, such as its business processes, applications, technology, and data. Furthermore, effective operative EA capabilities deliver an operating model and develop independent microservices that the organization can reuse within different departments, entities, or countries. The following seven capabilities are part of this category:

EA governance

EA governance is closely tied to the capabilities “EA strategic planning” and “EA roadmap management” in the strategic capabilities area. However, it also includes the operational execution of governance activities such as the enterprise architects which manage the Enterprise Architecture activities throughout the organization and ensure that they are carried out as planned. Operational EA governance covers all the activities that are not part of standardized governance processes.

EA operating model

EA processes and workflows are managed via the EA operating model capability. This capability also enables the management of roles and responsibilities, which determines the level of agility of the operations.

Software assets management (incl. licenses)

Software assets and licenses of vendors and suppliers need to be managed and continuously optimized according to new demands, offers or adapted pricing. This is the covered in the Software assets management capability.

Applications management

Applications and application landscapes need to be assessed, managed, and harmonized. This especially covers an application lifecycle management, as well as application roadmaps.

Technology management

Technologies need to support the application requirements, technology decisions impact platforms and functionalities, and technology lock-ins need to be avoided. Also, cloud environments need to be managed and new technologies should be adapted.

Data management

The operationalization of the data strategy includes the data and master data management, roles and responsibilities such as data ownership and data stewardship, as well as the assessment and analysis of data architecture, compliance, quality, integrity etc.

Microservices Management

Microservices are increasingly used. Decisions must be taken whether the architecture type is adequate in the particular area (microservices architecture or if SOA / monolithic architecture), development teams must be managed and developed. Although this capability might be less important than the others in the list, I like to mention it because of its increase in importance and the threat that it is forgotten because of its novelty.

3. Supporting EA Capabilities

The last category is the one of supporting EA capabilities. This category enables EA to involve the right people across departments and hierarchy levels and to provide the right messages that convince the right stakeholders from the benefits of EA. Furthermore, they help to lever the architectural findings and outcomes through the right EA tool and sharing platform (e.g. EA Wiki). Lastly, they secure that the enterprise architecture function can be successful by enabling a proper EA risk and compliance management. The following four capabilities are part of this category:

EA communication and involvement

EA needs to constantly communicate its existence, role, and benefits and it must also be open for critique, input, and discussions. If not, EA will quickly become the famous ivory tower that has nothing to do with the operational architecture.

Knowledge sharing, training, and content leverage

Although there are enterprise architects in an organization, EA cannot work if only those know about EA. A key goal of EA must therefore be to teach, train, and share the content with other architects and also with the business to ensure that the organization as a whole establishes an EA mindset.

EA tooling

EA has a lot to do with repositories, assessing, and providing architecture information. As the amount of data is strongly increasing, the support of a modern and suited EA tool is inevitable.

Risk and compliance management

There are regularly new regulations that EA needs to take care of, such as data privacy, SOX, and industry-specific regulations, such as in the banking sector. In addition, risks need to be managed and mitigated. Contributing to risk and compliance in the best way possible is part of this EA capability.

Enterprise architecture only works, if the right balance across those capabilities is ensured. In one of my next posts, I will take a deeper look into the different categories.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *