Is Enterprise Architecture the answer?

The thing I find hard about project management is knowing it’s just a small piece of a much bigger puzzle. Projects can slot into programmes which slot into portfolios, they can slot straight into portfolios or they can just ‘be’. The idea is that all of these things combine to meet the needs of your organisational strategy which helps you to achieve your organisational mission. Pop quiz, can you recall your organisational mission? How much is lost in translation throughout various departments?

Messy doesn’t even come close, but help is at hand. I’ve recently been introduced to Enterprise Architecture (EA) and I’m hooked–I know I’m a little late but what can you do. I’ve never had the opportunity to apply EA but the idea is that it can help senior managers deliver business and organisational change by making sense of everything that’s going on. As Tom Graves so elequently puts it:

Things work better when they work together, with clarity, with elegance, on purpose.

Easier said than done of course but the ideas and techniques have proven useful to a range of JISC projects I’ve been working with. I’m developing a ‘briefing paper’ style document at the moment to help raise awareness of EA which I’ll share in due course but for now recommend the following documents/resources:

  • Everyday EA by Tom Graves (as mentioned above).
  • Doing EA (TechWatch 2009).
  • Unleasing EA (TechWatch 2009).
  • If you’re thinking about creating an EA you’ll need a framework e.g. TOGAF or Zachman.
  • You’ll also need a modelling tool e.g. Archi (free).

4 thoughts on “Is Enterprise Architecture the answer?

  1. Many thanks for the quote and link, Andy – much appreciated! :-)And yes, a good summary of real-world EA – especially about "Messy doesn’t even come close"… and what we need to do to face it.Would warn gently that most current ‘EA’ frameworks such as Zachman and TOGAF have a very IT-centric view of the world: it’s essential to balance them with other views to build up a more holographic view of the enterprise. For example, the Business Model Canvas (see summary on Wikipedia) would be a useful addition to your list above.

  2. Wow, thanks for the reply Tom! I’ll certainly take a look at other frameworks/models that help to provide other viewpoints and share this with the projects I’ve been involved with.Generally speaking, the thing I like most about EA is that it really helps bring everyone together to form a more coherent conversation. I think communication is essential and information is at the heart of that which is why differing viewpoints are so important.

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