IASA Chicago Chapter Inaugural Event April 7- George Paras Featured Speaker

April 4, 2011

Thursday evening, April 7, marks the inaugural event for the new IASA Chicago Chapter.  The meeting will be from 6:00pm-7:30pm at Illinois Technology Association (ITA), 200 S. Wacker, 15th Floor, Chicago.  The new chapter provides a networking and educational forum for IT and Enterprise Architects from across the Chicago area.  I will be leading a session on “Changing Architects’ Conversations”, sharing tips and techniques on how architects can create and take advantage of opportunities to engage enterprise leadership in strategic conversations.

In addition to speaking at the event, I am honored to have been asked to serve on the Advisory Board for this new chapter.  Please invite your architecture colleagues to come and join us!

Event and Registration Details


Top-Performing EA Teams – A Panel Discussion

March 30, 2011

I had the opportunity last week to moderate two panels at the Troux Worldwide Conference. The first panel included EAdirections’ Tim Westbrock along with Mike Walker from Microsoft, Aleks Buterman from SenseAgility and Paul Preiss from IASA. The theme of the panel was a general discussion on characteristics of top-performing EA Teams. To begin the conversation, I asked each panelist to describe what a top-performing EA team meant to them. What I had originally believed to be a softball question that would show the breadth of issues and perspectives on EA turned out to be more controversial than I had expected.

The panel became caught up in the role of EA and the role of IT architects. Unfortunately, the conversations became focused on the differences in the roles instead of how they work together, diving too far into a differentiation of the “primary” roles and skills of each. It revealed some of the confusion around EA and shone a light on many of the issues that practicing enterprise architects must deal with on a daily basis. What I had hoped would be a conversation addressing how the EA function must be multi-purposed, strategic and tactical, business and IT-oriented, and with an eye to both short and long-term value delivery became overly focused on narrower perspectives. We had a few rough spots as we worked our way through the session, but luckily we ended well. We landed at the recognition that while the roles are different they share some common skills and, after all, they should be collectively working to achieve positive results for their organizations. Individuals in both of these roles will inevitably be working closely with each other.

Personally, I believe that the biggest part of being a top-performing EA team is learning to strike the right balance across the perspectives listed above. It isn’t about doing just one thing or having a “primary” concern as much as it is about how well the EA leaders cover the bases, shifting emphasis from strategic, business-oriented concerns, to helping certain initiatives head down the right path, and then back again as dictated by the situation. It is about breadth, and reach, and longevity.

In future posts Tim or I will examine several of the questions asked by the audience, some answered by the panel and others that we didn’t have time to address.


EAdirections’ Views on Business Architecture at Troux Worldwide Conference

January 12, 2011

Tim Westbrock will be sharing his views on Business Architecture with attendees at the upcoming Troux Worldwide Conference in Austin on March 23rd and 24th.  For those able to attend, you will be intrigued by Tim’s perspectives on Enterprise Architecture as it is commonly practiced today and on his thoughts on how the discipline of EA is fundamentally altered by the addition of business architecture practices.

George Paras will also be in attendance, serving as Master of Ceremonies for the event in his role as Editor-in-Chief of Architecture and Governance Magazine, the event’s main media sponsor.

We both look forward to the opportunity to meet with our subscribers and blog readers while in Austin.  If you plan to attend,  please contact us ahead of time and we’ll be happy to arrange for a time to meet, or just be sure to come up and say hello at the event.  

Here are some more details:

The Troux Worldwide Conference is a must attend conference for companies involved in Strategic IT Planning and Enterprise Architecture (EA) programs. Set for March 23-24, 2011 in Austin, Texas and sponsored by Architecture and Governance Magazine, the conference will include some cutting edge case studies from some of the most innovative and successful companies in the industry.

This is your chance to hear the latest on how to make your EA programs sing with success and most importantly – deliver value!

The Troux Worldwide User Conference is also a great opportunity to network face-to-face with your peers and industry thought leaders. For more information and to request your invitation, please visit www.troux.com/conference


Reminder – Join us at IASA World Summit NY for “Variations on the Architecture Theme”

September 1, 2010

In a Keynote Presentation at the upcoming IASA World Summit 2010, September 22-24 in New York, Tim Westbrock and George Paras will be sharing ideas and leading a discussion on the dynamics that exist between the roles of Solutions, IT, and Enterprise Architects, what they mean to your enterprise, and what they mean to practitioners and IT leaders.  We hope you can join us.

Abstract: Most organizations that claim to be practicing “enterprise” architecture are really just doing “IT” architecture (ITA), and many of those are primarily focused on “solution” architecture.  If they are all “architecture”, do the distinctions matter?  Absolutely! And all these variations of “architecture” are important.  Our research and client observations reveal that most organizations do not have clarity on how to leverage these roles or even how to set expectations and measure their contributions.  For an organization to extract the highest value from architecture, and for the practitioners to get the most satisfaction and rewards for their work, it is critical that the stakeholders understand the differences.  It is also imperative that the organization learn that all these roles must exist and that they must work together to achieve the organization’s objectives.         

Topics will include:

  • The key characteristics of EA, ITA and Solutions Architect roles and practices
  • Leveraging your Solutions Architecture and ITA work to move up to holistic EA – preparing yourself for your next leap
  • Moving from the Traditional to the Transformational View of EA to lead true business transformation
  • Getting Started with Business Architecture and Strategic Capabilities Analysis as part of EA
  • Tips on what to do if your organization does not yet have an EA or ITA practice
  • The personal skills required for each role, and how to move from one to another

If you’d like to contact us and arrange a time to meet at the event, please us the form below:


Variations on the Architecture Theme: Solutions, IT and Enterprise Architectures – IASA World Summit 2010 New York

August 4, 2010

In a Keynote Presentation at the upcoming IASA World Summit 2010, September 22-24 in New York, Tim Westbrock and George Paras will be sharing ideas and leading a discussion on the dynamics that exist between the roles of Solutions, IT, and Enterprise Architects, what they mean to your enterprise, and what they mean to practitioners and IT leaders.  We hope you can join us.

Abstract: Most organizations that claim to be practicing “enterprise” architecture are really just doing “IT” architecture (ITA), and many of those are primarily focused on “solution” architecture.  If they are all “architecture”, do the distinctions matter?  Absolutely! And all these variations of “architecture” are important.  Our research and client observations reveal that most organizations do not have clarity on how to leverage these roles or even how to set expectations and measure their contributions.  For an organization to extract the highest value from architecture, and for the practitioners to get the most satisfaction and rewards for their work, it is critical that the stakeholders understand the differences.  It is also imperative that the organization learn that all these roles must exist and that they must work together to achieve the organization’s objectives.         

Topics will include:

  • The key characteristics of EA, ITA and Solutions Architect roles and practices
  • Leveraging your Solutions Architecture and ITA work to move up to holistic EA – preparing yourself for your next leap
  • Moving from the Traditional to the Transformational View of EA to lead true business transformation
  • Getting Started with Business Architecture and Strategic Capabilities Analysis as part of EA
  • Tips on what to do if your organization does not yet have an EA or ITA practice
  • The personal skills required for each role, and how to move from one to another

Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn

July 5, 2010

EAdirections is now online with Twitter, and we have launched a new group on LinkedIn, the “EAdirections Forum” .

(Click on the buttons below to follow or join!)

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My Take on the Q&A from the The Open Group Seattle Event …

February 28, 2010

I recently attended The Open Group Architecture Practitioner’s conference in Seattle.  During the event, I was given the opportunity to present a Keynote on the Language of Business Architecture, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  A couple of my peers, Mike Rollings of Burton and Henry Peyret of Forrester, were present and gave interesting presentations, as well as participated in a panel discussion, with Business Architecture themes.  There were several questions posed during the panel and Q&A sessions following their presentations upon which, surprisingly, I also had an opinion.  With apologies to Mike and Henry, I thought I would share some of them with our readers.   And George has an opinion or two, as well.

Q1:  If Enterprise Architecture as practiced by most is really IT Architecture and Enterprise Architecture is not a term that will be embraced outside the IT organization, what should we call it?

Tim’s Answer:  Although it is not as catchy, my first thought was Enterprise Planning & Optimization.  Until something sexier or more appealing comes along, this is my suggestion. 

George’s Answer: I can live with that and have never found anything better.  Several years ago, at successive Enterprise Architectures Conferences (EACs) I ran working group sessions to “rename” EA.  Each time, the group concluded that “even with all the undesirable connotations of the name ‘EA’, we can’t come up with a better name”. 

Q2:  Have you ever seen EA report outside of IT?

Tim’s Answer:  To this point, I have not worked with a company that has the EA function reporting outside of EA permanently; however, I have worked with companies where the head of EA has had occasional assignments working for a corporate executive (not line-of-business) on strategic initiatives. 

George’s Answer: I have seen a few forward-looking organizations exhibit EA-like behaviors with notions like future state, enterprise principles, enterprise operating models (a la “EA as Strategy” – Ross, Weill, Robertson) as context, etc., usually within the enterprise strategic planning function.  They never call it EA, though.

Q3:  Do you see many EA groups with defined qualitative metrics?  What are they?

Tim’s Answer:  Most EA groups need to have some kind of metrics or KPIs in place, and as most of the benefits of EA are indirectly realized through the efforts of others (project teams, operations, procurement, etc.), they tend to be qualitative.  I have seen clients measure reductions in complexity and asset portfolio mix that have both qualitative and quantitative elements to them.  Perhaps the most common qualitative metric I see is a periodic assessment of EA maturity/effectiveness.  Organizations compare the ratings in different categories from one year to the next to see where they are improving and where they are lagging.

George’s Answer: I agree with Tim and would add that, occasionally, I see many organizations implement specific quantitative measurements because their HR systems require them to have something designed to evaluate individual and/or group performance.   These tend to be behavioral measures, not value measures.  Examples include completion of specific EA deliverables, or reducing the number of EA exceptions requested by projects.  The latter is achieved by creating appropriate reuseable patterns that have high utility across the enterprise, solving specific implementation scenarios in a repeatable way, through education and project coaching, etc.  The leadership team must believe that these behaviors will eventually drive desired outcomes in the company if the architect is to have any chance of representing these as legitimate metrics.  

Q4: In large organizations, line-of-business (LOB) architectures abound.  Is this an inhibitor or opportunity?

Tim’s Answer:  I think that it can be both.  If you do not create a unified, but federated, EA practice across the organization, then you run the risk that the LOB architectures are inconsistent, increasing cost and complexity overall.  Also, the LOB EA groups will tend to be more customer-focused, giving the LOB what they want, which makes it more difficult for Enterprise-level architecture decisions that are optimal company-wide, to be embraced at the LOB level.  This federated approach is what we see at most large complex organizations, so it must be turned into an opportunity to be successful.  Without leveraging the extended architecture community, the EA will probably be largely unsuccessful in large organizations.

George’s Answer: It could be both, but being a cup half-full person, I usually see it as an opportunity.  If even a small part of a large organization can do EA successfully, that’s good for them.  With luck, it will spread and grow to others.  If there are multiple LOB EA’ish functions, perhaps they will be able to identify opportunities for commonality and leverage, but only if that really makes sense for that particular company.  If critical mass or commonality never materializes at the big-“E” enterprise level then at least part of the company has embraced EA concepts.

Q5:  How do you define a business capability?

Tim’s Answer:  To me, business capabilities are the next layer of abstraction below business strategies and objectives,   defined as the capabilities that the business operations must deliver to achieve those strategies and objectives.  Since capabilities are usually defined at a higher level than requirements, there is more opportunity to find capabilities that cross organizational and functional boundaries.  This approach helps identify the areas to which we can architect, rather than getting right to the solution. 

George’s Answer: This is a tough one because everyone has their own interpretation.  The simplest one I have seen defines a capability as “the ability for an organization to perform a particular piece of work”.   I like it BECAUSE of its simplicity.  Of course, then one must be able to define “work”.   One example capability might be, in a product company, packaging and communicating product features to potential customers.  That capability manifests in the marketing function.

Q6:  Do you think the long-term future of EA is to merge or disappear?

Tim’s answer:  I think for the vast majority, the answer is neither.  Ultimately, EA is all about leadership – providing it and being recognized by it.  It seems to me that the leadership of most organizations is interested in surviving, keeping the status quo, and being tremendously risk averse.  In those kinds of circumstances, I see EA following the enterprise leadership and basically staying the same.  Those organizations that truly embrace EA’s transformational capabilities and allow it to reach its potential may end up creating a hybrid version of EA – one part that continues the traditional IT architecture leadership under the CIO called EA, and one part that merges into the executive offices to provide leadership in planning and strategy, called something other that EA, perhaps Business Architecture (but I kind of doubt it).  In these cases, there will be a strong relationship and integration between EA and BA. 

George’s answer: I have long maintained and continue to be of the opinion that a well-run EA program “melds into” and becomes part of the management and decision-making fabric of the enterprise.  It isn’t EA itself that we ultimately care about – it is just the name we are stuck with to represent a future-oriented, holistic, business driven, enterprise-wide context that informs decision-making.   What we really care about is the installation of those EA-like concepts, behaviors and an enterprise context into how the enterprise works – whether it is called EA or not.   By the way, I think we are a long way from this happening for anything more than a relatively small fraction of organizations.

Let us know what you think.


Hold the Date! – George Paras Keynote at Denver IASA ITARC on May 6, 2010

February 28, 2010

In a keynote presentation at the upcoming IASA ITARC Denver Event I will be discussing  the leadership challenges that many current and aspiring IT leaders face in their organizations, and how they can overcome those challenges by applying selected enterprise architecture concepts to their decision-making framework.  Not surprisingly, I advocate moving EA “upstream” within the management structure and expanding the context to make it more relevant to the business.   Doing so isn’t easy.  It requires a combination of skills in leadership, process integration within the Office of the CIO, and appropriate content in business and information architecture.   In this session attendees will learn how to get started on this journey.  

If you are in Denver and plan to attend, please let us know.  We’ll be available to discuss  ideas with any organization interested in expanding the scope and reach of their EA practice into business-oriented EA. 

IASA ITARCThe International Association of Software Architects (IASA) is the premier association focused on the architecture profession through the advancement of best practices and education while delivering programs and services to IT architects of all levels around the world.  The IT Architect Regional Conference is the first event in Minnesota to address the pressing needs of IT architects today. There are 12 seminars and two tracks separated by specialty: Enterprise and Fundamentals. Architects of all levels can take their skills to the next level.


Webinar Replay – The State of EA: Is 2010 The Transitional Year?

January 31, 2010

In my role as Editor-in-Chief  of Architecture and Governance I recently had the opportunity to discuss the near-term future of EA with my fellow analyst and colleague-in-EA, Alex Cullen of Forrester Research.  During the webinar we discussed topics ranging from executive perceptions about EA to specifics on how organizations approached EA. 

Consistent with EAdirections research and our client experience I find that organizational perceptions and biases about EA can span a wide range.  Each company and even each person/role within a company can have a different take on what EA is, what it does, how it influences their organization and the value it brings. Implementation models vary accordingly.  

The good news is that there is almost always an improvement path available for any baseline set of perceptions and biases.  The key is to perform a thorough diagnostic and create an improvement plan customized to the mix present in the organization.  For those organizations that are ready, this is the year to step up to embrace business and information architecture.  It is worth noting that doing so isn’t just an exercise in building more, or better or different models.  Progress in improving the reach and impact of the EA program is a trust building exercise.  For those that are not yet able to immediately integrate BA and IA into their EA approach, the EA team members should use this year to expand their business acumen and to build a stronger relationships with key business side personnel.  For those teams that are unable to reach directly into the business, they must earn enough trust from the IT executives so that they will provide the necessary introductions.  Building the trust, and demonstrating value, is a multi-dimensional activity.  With patience and a willingness to experiment, many organizations can end 2010 further ahead than where they started the year.

A replay of the webinar is available on the Architecture and Governance website.


IASA “IT Architect Regional Conference” in Austin – George Paras Presenting

January 3, 2010

“Enterprise Architecture (EA) is an immature discipline and possibly getting even more immature.  As the scope of EA extends beyond the areas that IT-centric efforts are prepared for (data, app, infrastructure), the competency, credibility and effectiveness of an EA team may decrease.  However, there are a variety of ways to increase these characteristics for EA teams, regardless of the stage of maturity in which you may find yourself. “

That is the theme of a presentation, entitled “EA Profession: What’s Changing and What’s Not?”,  I will deliver at the upcoming IASA ITARC event in Austin on Thursday, February 4.   The discussion will feature a lively discussion about my assessment on the state of the EA profession, what I see going on in the industry that helps and hinders the evolution of the EA profession, and what else to expect in the future.

If you are in Austin and plan to attend, please let me know.  I’m always interested in talking with other enterprise architects, those that aspire to the role, and IT Leaders interested in having an EA function in their organization.   There will be plenty of opportunities for discussion and Q&A, including at an evening reception.

IASA ITARCThe International Association of Software Architects (IASA) is the premier association focused on the architecture profession through the advancement of best practices and education while delivering programs and services to IT architects of all levels around the world.  The IT Architect Regional Conference is the first event in Minnesota to address the pressing needs of IT architects today. There are 12 seminars and two tracks separated by specialty: Enterprise and Fundamentals. Architects of all levels can take their skills to the next level.


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