This brief article intends to throw some light into a highly misunderstood discipline that CEO's could otherwise use to their advantage. The discipline goes by Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM), or simply Enterprise Architecture (EA). Too many people, including some enterprise architects, regard EA as an IT concern. That is backward thinking! As its name implies, Enterprise Architecture is anenterprise concern.
A Definition of Enterprise Architecture
Enterprise Architecture is a management and governance discipline that translates business strategy into effective enterprise change by designing the required business capabilities, and planning and guiding the implementation of the changes to those capabilities using a holistic approach.
Why You Need an Enterprise Architecture Function
As a CEO you own a strategy to take your organization to the next level of success. But all too often you have been disappointed by the inadequate execution of your strategy. There is a good reason for that: you have entrusted the execution of your strategy to the wrong parties. Forgive my bluntness, but you are among the many CEOs who have not heard about or quite grasped the concept (and value) of Enterprise Architecture.
EA will take your strategy, analyze your existing business capabilities against it, and identify what changes are needed in order to match your business capabilities to your strategy. Then, it will go on to plan the implementation of those changes. While designing and planning, it will juggle several factors: your organization’s values, stakeholders’ concerns, drivers, constraints, and risks. Next, it will ensure that the parties in charge of implementing the changes are compliant with the design. Finally, it will continually ensure that the deployed capabilities do indeed deliver the expected business value.
Note that I have not used, nor do I need to, Information Technology (IT) in my above discussion. This is because EA is a holistic discipline; it designs, plans, and governs considering all verticals across the organization and all domains from strategy to operations. No-one else in your organization has this vantage point – neither Strategic Planning, nor Governance, nor Project Portfolio Management, nor any other function. That’s why you need EA.
I have succinctly described what EA is, how it operates, and what their purpose is. I have also made a distinction between Enterprise Architecture and IT architecture. Finally, if you really want your EA function to succeed, you need to be bold enough to take it under your wing. Don’t put it under any other CxO, they will not know what to do with it.