It is becoming an accepted fact that the development of enterprise architecture capability within the organisation is fundamental to improving the alignment of business and IT, and thus overall business effectiveness.
Globally, companies which invested in enterprise architecture several years back are seeing a return on their strategic transformation initiatives. Adopting enterprise architecture thinking has enabled them to determine and meet their strategies, allocate and manage infrastructure, digitise core business processes and realise greater value from their investment in IT.
As a result, they are outstripping their competitors. Harvard Business Review, for instance, reports that organisations which have digitised their core business processes and which have applied enterprise architecture principles to drive their strategy have, in every instance, become the world leaders in their space.
The reasons are simple: in addition to becoming more profitable, these companies are better able to get value from their IT investments, and because they are also more agile and more flexible, they are able to get to market quicker and adapt to change easily.
Enterprise architecture translates the strategic objectives and vision of an organisation into an actionable blueprint for business and IT change. However, to establish a business-appropriate and sustainable enterprise architecture practice within the organisation, you have to create internal capacity and capability.
These are two important terms to bear in mind. 'Sustainable' points to the requirement to keep enterprise architecture front of mind and to ensure it delivers ongoing value to the organisation. Enterprise architecture is not a one-off project and, in fact, the real business value of enterprise architecture becomes comprehensible over time when it is actively and consistently applied across all business and IT change projects.
'Business-appropriate' talks to a need to ensure that that the enterprise architecture is aligned with the specifics of an organisation's enterprise architecture readiness, strategy market and broader ecosystem.
Fundamental to the success of the enterprise architecture practice is that it must be run like a business, with a clearly defined customer focus, product portfolio, communication and marketing. The communication and marketing need to be conducted with a near-evangelical fervour, exciting and uniting the organisation around the goals and objectives and long-term benefits to be had. The team needs to sell the vision with sufficient passion to get key stakeholders fully enthused, and the message needs to be conveyed consistently: this is a new way of business; it is a process, not a project; and it is not a silver bullet: it requires ongoing hard work if it is to succeed.
The practice needs to be set up with short-, medium- and long-term objectives, with business value being delivered early, regularly, constantly - and visibly. Only through such acknowledged value will the organisation buy into the enterprise architecture long enough for it to deliver its full value. Also note that internal support for the enterprise architecture can wane, so it is important to keep reinvigorating it so as not to lose relevance in the eyes of the business.
Change management will help overcome corporate inertia and lack of will, which are the biggest internal inhibitors. In the early phases, this change management will embrace education, evangelising, leadership, dynamism and the selling of a vision. Over time, as the organisation matures, the need for such intense intervention will be reduced, and the style of change management needs to move with that.
Internal capacity is best complemented by the support and advice of a top consultancy which can, on the one hand, provide skills transfer, and on the other, ensure the job is done at the highest level with best practices applied and a wide range of experience brought to bear.
The enterprise architecture practice resides in the middle of a range of projects and initiatives where models are being produced. It pulls this work into an integrated set of models that support re-use and mass customisation, in line with the principle of model once and re-use many times.
A sustainable and business-appropriate enterprise architecture capability has several outcomes which impact on the business. For example, the creation of quality models, which leads to the ability to provide enterprise architecture services specific to business needs. It also heightens the perceived usefulness of these models, and leads to their re-use.
It is at this point that the models then begin to feed back into the enterprise architecture capability, resulting in positive word of mouth, stimulation of enterprise architecture customer demand, a willingness to invest in enterprise architecture capability, and a commitment to the ongoing maintenance of existing models.
There are three distinct phases in the development of an enterprise architecture:
1. Plan - Plan the enterprise architecture capability to ensure it is business-appropriate.
Activities in this phase include:
* Agree on a definition of enterprise architecture in the context of your organisation to ensure a common understanding.
* Develop a clear vision and strategy to steer all the enterprise architecture initiatives in the organisation.
* Establish rules of engagement to guide the enterprise architecture effort and assist in decision making.
* Determine what is the requirement for enterprise architecture and what products and services should be delivered.
2. Build - develop a framework to enable the enterprise architecture capability according to the business requirement specified in the planning phase.
Activities in this phase include:
* Define the enterprise architecture processes to sustain the enterprise architecture initiative.
* Agree and allocate enterprise architecture roles and responsibilities .
* Establish performance metrics for enterprise architecture.
* Select appropriate enterprise architecture tools.
* Develop the meta-models that will define and govern the population of the enterprise architecture domains in the selected enterprise architecture tools.
* Provide initial training.
* Extend the functionality of the toolset to meet all the reporting requirements.
3. Run - execute the enterprise architecture practice in such a manner that the quality and use are optimised in compliance with the established framework.
Activities in this phase include:
* Administer the enterprise architecture tools and environment.
* Extend the enterprise architecture framework based on agreed requirements.
* Manage the content of the enterprise architecture repository to ensure quality and integrity of models.
* Publish enterprise architecture repository content in different views aligned to the audience.
* Monitor the enterprise architecture effort and take corrective action when required.
The Anglo Platinum case
Anglo Platinum's enterprise architecture project enabled the organisation to:
* Drive accurate, timely and consistent information.
* Implement meaningful performance measurement metrics.
* Improve business focus on critical processes, including safety, health and environment, mining and planning.
* Merge IT silos to enable a clearer, simpler and more effective technology environment.
In partnership with Real IRM, Anglo Platinum used the 'good enough' architecture approach, a philosophy for creating just-in-time architecture that is flexible and promotes business agility. This approach ensured the delivery of essential short-term business value, as well as the flexibility to change with business requirements.
By focusing on business processes, policies, people and information sources, flows and destinations, Anglo Platinum's enterprise architecture teams developed easily understandable standards, guidelines and principles, as well as a strong conceptual framework.
In designing its enterprise architecture, Anglo Platinum incorporated three frameworks, which offer different methods of organising architectural documents to divide them into manageable parts and define cross-links between them:
* Business, information, data and technology (BIDAT), which defines the boundaries of the architecture domain.
* The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), which provides the company with a comprehensive reference to enterprise architecture methods and guidelines to develop roles and skills matrices.
* The Zachman framework, which forms the basis for the development of the conceptual framework and meta-models.
The company used ARIS modelling software to create a detailed map of all its business processes, including those related to labour management and safety. Staff members have easy access to these maps and other necessary information via a Web portal.
Among the most important lessons to be learnt from this project are:
* Use the appropriate implementation rather than attempting to be perfect as this allows architecture to evolve with changing business needs.
* Start at the top by involving leaders early and often.
* Focus on short- to medium-term business benefits to make the organisation more responsive to change.
* Demonstrate a few, early benefits and allow the business to create demand for more.
* Expect demand to outstrip initial resources.
* Prioritise work based on business imperatives.
* Use an experienced consulting resource for manpower and to fast-track deliverables.
* Implement enterprise architecture modelling and documentation standards across multiple areas to reduce costs and ensure effective re-use of models.
* Develop an in-house architectural support capability by transferring skills from external consultants to employees.
* Create strong architectural governance that supports corporate governance.
* Create a sustainable centre of excellence - dedicate and maintain sufficient internal resources while developing business capability.
Ultimately, enterprise architecture goes way beyond technology alone. It effectively architects the business for growth. As the organisation develops and expands, its processes simply fit into the established enterprise architecture as all components of the business have been predicted, planned for and strategised. Able to absorb ever-changing business needs, enterprise architecture is a dynamic and agile process that helps define the future state required to meet those business needs.
Stuart Macgregor, MD, Real IRM
For more information contact Carla Bell, Real IRM, +27 (0)11 805 3734, email@example.com