by Brian Hopkins

EA Blogosphere Update (August 2010) – Better Late Than Never

Sep 22, 2010
Enterprise Architecture

A very late post summarizing some key EA blog posts from colleagues in August.

[Apologize, I should have posted this two weeks ago, but my day job and life kept setting other priorities.]

The overriding theme for August was Governance. I guess because it is annual planning time for Fortune 500 America. Before I cover some interesting posts, here is a definition of Governance that I have found very useful –

Specifying the decision rights and accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the use of IT.”

Weill, P. & Ross, J. W., 2004, IT Governance: How Top Performers Manage IT Decision Rights for Superior Results”, Harvard Business School Press, Boston.

While there are many possible definitions (see Wikipedia on Information Technology Governance), this one seems the most fundamental, being about decision rights (who gets to make what decisions) and accountability (who the buck stop with.)

George Paras, at EA Directions addressed EA’s potential roles in annual planning in this post, Let the Budgeting Process Begin – EA’s Role. In an ideal world, he asserts that EAs should not be directly involved in budgeting, but instead feed the portfolio planning process. I agree. EA, when done correctly, sets the strategy and roadmap for the long term (3-5 years) and the annual plan then budgets and funds the execution against that roadmap for the year.

An even more advanced operating model for mature organizations is to maintain a rolling budget, possibly updated quarterly from the roadmap, rather than attempting a “big bang budgeting” exercise once a year. In this scenario, EAs act as governing agents by ensuring planned investments do indeed further stated strategy; escalating via the CIO when there is divergence.

Adrian Campbell, in his post, Decision making and EA explores the relationships between IT decision making and EA – here a some gems:

“Enterprise Architecturealso is a key enabler for decision making, what if analysis, gap analysis and answering the question ‘What business problem are we solving?'”

“For the C-level executives in an organisation there just is not enough detail available to answer their questions, so they often appear to look for simple and quick answers to difficult and complex problems. This is not usually good decision making…There is a need for thinking and decision frameworks to help c-level executives and business leaders make their decisions.”

The previous quote implies this is where EA fits in – helping the C-level understand complex relationships and identify strategic approaches to long term solutions.

And my last favorite quote –

“Remember, ‘When technology leads, it’s not enterprise architecture’!

Enterprise Architects are strategic assets, organisations should use them as such, at a corporate level, to support better decision making and for creating a solid foundation for the execution of the business strategies”

Rock on Adrian!

Tom Graves, in his post EA Tooling, Next Gen doesn’t address governance directly, however he proposes tooling that enables collaborative development of future state models that support the governance function. When a strategic direction or investment doesn’t further the future state, the models should be straightforward and easily understand so that busy executives can recognize the misalignment and take action.

Jeff Scott, in Forrester’s EA Blog, encourages EAs to Eat Our Own Dog Food by using Capability Maps [see my post The Essential EA Toolkit (Part 1) for an example], SWOT Analysis, Value Chains and Roadmaps in interacting with CIOs to align with them. What do these produce at the end of the day? Essential governance tools to ensure that the organization defines a strategy then executes to it.

While Not Related to governance, here are some other blogs of note:

Todd Biske asks, “Is a MBA good for EA?”  In his view an MBA is a tool in the toolbox; he shares the lament that EA is not part of any MBA curriculum. I’ll go a step further and strongly support the idea that business degrees are essential to good, business-oriented EA. I would like to see the discipline of Enterprise Architecture as a tool for business taught in the MBA curriculum as well – it would be an achievement for our profession. Nice question, Todd.

Lastly, I’d like to point out the EA’s relationship to the Cloud is becoming a hot topic. Will Cloud Computing change the EA game? Check out:

There is much going on in EA. Since I started about a year ago, the quantity and quality of EA blog content has risen, leading me to believe that we are approaching a tipping point in the practice. While I can’t read all the content, if you’d like me to read yours and possibly incorporate your good thoughts on my monthly update, please contact me at my personal blog, Practicing Enterprise Architecture.

Next week, will publish Part 3 to the Essential EA Tools series by diving into Architecture Governance, a topic near and dear.