by Chris Potts

Enterprise Architect = Scenario Planner

Feb 18, 20082 mins
IT Leadership

As the business climate and the technology market continue to evolve, no Enterprise Architect can risk being tied to one business scenario and one roadmap.

I was having a phone conversation last Friday with a CIO client of mine who joined a company up in the North of England a few months ago. The company has now appointed a new Chief Executive Officer – so the overall corporate strategy is about to go through a significant evolution. In this case, there’s no real risk that the company will change its fundamental strategy, core business or target markets. But there’s every chance of a different focus on how the strategy’s executed, which in turn will significantly reshape the priorities for investing in change (and indeed who gets to execute that strategy and those investments).

The CIO is sharply aware of all of this, and we were talking about his best tactics over the next few weeks and months.

The corporate strategy for IT, which the CIO is leading from the front, promises that the company will efficiently exploit information and technology to delight its clients and customers, grow total revenues and maximise profit per transaction. The first part of that promise is likely to remain unaffected by the change of CEO, while the second part may need to be revalidated. The new CEO’s strategy may demand different types of value from the people in the company who are making and exploiting IT investments.

The CIO’s main concern is for the short- and longer-term impact of the change of CEO on the company’s Enterprise Architecture blueprint and the accompanying roadmap. The trap they have fallen into, which I’ve seen more often than I care to say, is that their Enterprise Architecture is planned around only one strategic scenario. So it’s now time for them to rapidly ascend the Enterprise Architecture maturity curve and plan for multiple business scenarios.

Any Enterprise Architect planning for just one businesss scenario and holding only one roadmap is likely to come adrift from the company strategy fairly rapidly, even without a change of CEO or something equally significant. The real danger is when nobody notices until it’s too late, and projects based on the roadmap get executed even though events have rendered them obsolete. Thankfully, not true this time.