We are consistently being exposed to ENTERPRISE architecture teams without an enterprise perspective in the deliverables and activities in which they are engaged. Sometimes this is due to a cyclical shift in the priorities between defining enterprise architecture and applying enterprise architecture via solution architecture. This is a normal, healthy shift that we see happening in maturing EA programs. However, the occurrence I would like to touch on is when there has NEVER been an enterprise perspective, yet there is an enormous priority placed on solution architecture resources and activities.
I have to ask myself if these enterprise architecture teams understand what they are missing. The enterprise perspective is embodied in activities and deliverables that are not only enterprise-wide in scope and objectives, but also forward-looking, strategic, holistic and business-driven. Relative to solution architecture (SA), the goal of EA is to provide this enterprise perspective so that SA’s can guide the tactical, technical, siloed project-oriented activities to fit with the long term business and technical direction of the enterprise. Without the enterprise perspective, the SA’s are only guiding projects to fit within the technical best practices and emerging trends from the perspective of an individual SA or SA group. Valuable, yes, but not EA.
But there is an even greater impact to an organization of an EA without an enterprise perspective, and that impact is felt by other planning groups relying on EA to provide that long-term, holistic, business-driven, strategic view. Budgeting, portfolio management, change management, strategic planning, sourcing, and operations planning all tend to happen with an eye on the short-term and tactical. Without EA fulfilling its obligation, these plans are likely to be inconsistent, abandoned quickly, lead to waste, and ultimately, diminish confidence in the IT organization, the CIO and the IT management team.
The excuse that many EA groups are using is that there is a focus on the short term because of the economy, resource shortage or lack of business strategy from the enterprise leadership. This excuse might hold weight for organizations just getting started with EA in the last 2-3 years, but what about the EA teams that have been operating for 5 years or more and NEVER developed the EA perspective. Simply put, it is usually a lack of leadership and understanding of what is needed to create the enterprise perspective. We counsel organizations to do the work to create a baseline of the enterprise perspective and use that to help leadership understand what the enterprise perspective is and how they can use it. Good leaders will make use of it, and understand that now is the time to be looking forward.