Maximize the Value of Your EA Program

Facilitate coordinated change throughout your organization by establishing a comprehensive enterprise architecture (EA) program.

Today's enterprise architecture (EA) programs often hit a wall when EA teams attempt to demonstrate their value to the business. While EA teams might be effective at launching a program and creating initial deliverables, other stakeholder communities within IT and the business often do not directly appreciate the value of EA work.

As a result, the CIO and the EA teams themselves often ask, "How can we get value out of our EA investment?" While many EA teams embrace their role supporting project teams, most have not tapped the dramatic value available through the EA creation process.

To be an effective EA team, you must interact with many constituencies on a regular basis because these constituencies own the "business of IT" challenges that represent significant EA opportunity. Your EA team's foundational capabilities and work products provide a consolidated cross-enterprise data repository, a view of the desired future state, an awareness of the current state, and an analysis of the big picture. These activities produce decision-quality information that is valuable to the leaders across your enterprise.

Your IT organization can close the loop between business value and IT by involving your EA team in initiatives to optimize IT spending, improve effectiveness, and manage the overall IT environment. Foundational EA activities provide additional strategic perspective and add insight to these initiatives, producing value beyond what each initiative could achieve if done in isolation.

Resolving Enterprise Redundancies
Different parts of your organization spend time and effort to optimize their operations, but they probably don't understand how their processes overlap and interact with the rest of the enterprise. You might hear these types of questions: "Do we have one order-to-cash process or 17?" and "Are they building the same application in Singapore that we are building in San Diego?" EA allows your team to see across the enterprise and across domains. An EA process captures a snapshot of the desired operating model for the enterprise; marries it with information on the existing processes, assets, capabilities, and organizational structures; and then uses it as a reference point to resolve redundancies.

Identify IT Non-Compliance
Technology selection and implementation will be driven by projects, budgets, and urgency if not managed appropriately. Your enterprise will miss a tremendous opportunity to drive efficiencies and mitigate risk if it does not tie a standards management process to technology selection. With appropriate process controls, an EA foundation can help you link these concepts together and drive cost savings, risk reduction, and strategic alignment. To systematically steer your organization, you must have the ability to audit for non-compliance in near real time, assess the impact on the enterprise, and identify remedies.

App Risk Profile
Application health should be more than just a Green-Yellow-Red (GYR) report generated by a systems management tool. Rather, you will have broader opportunity for cost management and risk mitigation if you understand your company's health in the context of business impact. To calculate a business impact analysis (BIA) score for an application, you must merge operational data with business data. You can do this through an EA context. A top-down, business-strategy–driven approach to EA will help you establish a risk management context that can be used to analyze the value of specific software applications, their components, and how they contribute to your business strategy and operations.

Human Capital Management
The availability of skilled human resources is critical for all organizations. Unfortunately, too many organizations inadequately prepare for emerging technologies and the new skills that are required to implement them. You need time and investment to create the right portfolio of skills at the right time. An EA foundation—including planned roadmaps, lifecycles, and transition strategies—can afford your IT Human Capital Management (HCM) department the visibility and insight it needs to hire, outsource, train, or retrain staff so that skilled resources are available.

Security Strategy and Implementation
Tying people and processes to approved information access is a growing requirement for many regulatory initiatives. Information privacy is an example of one such concern. Your security organization usually addresses this concern by creating the appropriate lines of defense. But the best defense is a strong offense. Your ability to marry strategic security planning with operational security execution achieves offensive objectives by helping your organization avoid retroactive security measures and achieve "security by design." An EA foundation can provide you with visibility into the assets, processes, and information of your enterprise and describe how they relate to one another. This information gives your security professional the tools required to stay ahead of threats and analyze the business risk at each level of abstraction.

Outsourcing Decision Process
Thoughtful outsourcing can be an effective way to reduce overall cost to the enterprise. If you've contemplated outsourcing, you've likely heard this advice: First understand your enterprise's core competencies, invest in them, and outsource everything else. What exactly are the core competencies? Without an EA context, your outsourcing decisions have probably been driven by the best cost-containment strategies at the time. However, if you don't factor in the strategic importance of the elements associated with outsourcing activity, your company can suffer setbacks when it learns that elements of a critical business competency might have been outsourced prematurely. An EA foundation can provide you with the required visibility to understand these relationships, foresee the linkages to business strategies, and help avoid unintended consequences.

IT Services Analysis
In the quest to run IT like a business, many organizations embrace the concept of IT services as a model to organize, package, and present their capabilities to the business. Once your organization embarks on this type of initiative, it must align its service development capabilities with business strategy. Without an EA context, services are simply packages constructed from existing capabilities, addressing issues relevant only to IT. EA can enable your organization to choose services that directly address its key business needs.

Software License Analysis
Of all the problem areas within IT, you might think it'd be easy to understand software license analytics and drive cost and risk reductions. However, these activities are often tasked to teams that cannot see the enterprise context. Even though these teams have the data, they still are unable to correlate that data to the underlying business reason, to answer "why" the organization should maintain the license. You can find success optimizing at the application level by leveraging a comprehensive understanding of far-flung enterprise demand, technology forecast, and strategic business direction.

Identification of Misalignment
Enterprise program managers often find it challenging to determine business alignment of individual project requests. A disconnect exists in many organizations between the decision-making processes employed by the Project Management Office (PMO) team and the analysis of individual project relevance to the future enterprise vision as captured by EA. You can drive identification of misalignment between individual project initiatives and the desired strategic outcome by tying these disciplines together. Closing this loop through the use of a comprehensive, broad, and integrated business-architecture view of the enterprise can drive strategic alignment, focusing investment on the high-value activities that support the strategy.

Realtime EA Info Supports Portfolio Management
Project portfolio management is an important element of IT governance. Responsible for alignment, investment, prioritization, portfolio risk analysis, and overall management of the project portfolio, your Project Portfolio Management (PPM) team must evaluate new project proposals and activities against the existing and planned enterprise asset portfolio. Projects are about change, and you must understand the impact of change on your portfolio assets.

Your assets can include applications, processes, information bases, technology, business capabilities, and more. Your evaluation process can easily yield unintended consequences if information about assets is sparse, inaccurate, or out of date. The traditional approach of using one-time, manual data-gathering exercises to support PPM is flawed. An EA foundation contains up-to-date information about all existing and planned portfolio assets, the relationships between them, their lifecycles, and roadmaps. Your enterprise can establish an EA foundation of asset information as the "single version of the truth" and leverage it to support PPM activities.

As an enterprise architect, you must make EA real by providing comprehensive and broad business value. EA's additional big-picture context offers an enterprise perspective and breaks down internal silos common to "heads-down" organizations. This enterprise perspective adds the critical cross-domain insight into your IT and business decision-making processes.

Even organizations with new EA programs should embrace these high-value concepts. You must attack high-value initiatives early in the evolution of an EA program to develop traction, establish your EA foundation, and incrementally improve its quality and utility.

Your IT leadership team must encourage all IT constituencies to engage with your EA team so that you can leverage the information foundation provided through EA. As a savvy EA team, you can become the catalyst to facilitate coordinated change throughout your enterprise.