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Avoiding the Common Mistakes in Enterprise Architecture Journey

July 21, 2022
Aaron Tan Dani

Avoiding the Common Mistakes in Enterprise Architecture Journey

Enterprises today operating in the digital era where constant change and improvement is required to stay competitive. Through iterative improvements these enterprises will be able capitalize new opportunities, stay ahead of the competition, exceed customer expectations, and keep digitalisation efforts going strong.

This leads to the need of these enterprises to have good enterprise architects as part of their team.

Enterprise architects provide the competence needed to navigate this change, understanding the benefits, costs, and impacts of transformation to enable organisations to make informed decisions and drive forward strategic change through Digital Enterprise Architecture (EA).

However, without the right EA management steering the architecture ship, the EA journey might stray away from the course.

Gartner estimates that 42% of EA initiatives have disbanded and rebranded in the last five years. These figures are indicative of a clear gap in EA Journey execution. Here are a few reasons why EA teams are having a hard time delivering the right way.

Not Having a Clear, Business-Driven Goal

One of the reasons is that the EA teams do not have clear business goals with a clear business stakeholder. Building and maintaining artifacts like process documentation and building business capability models have mistakenly become the main priority. This has become the focus, rather than simply the tools to deliver business-driven outcomes.

If architects don’t know why they are performing these activities, then they don’t understand the business and how they can improve it.

Architects must establish objectives and key results to guide their efforts. This includes defining measurable benefits. A goal may be to reduce evaluation time in the strategy to document the process, reduce downtime, or provide a target reference architecture that can allow teams to know where they can make informed decisions and therefore improve the overall EA project. Regardless, the key is to always have a business-driven outcome as the reason for performing the EA activities. Even simple task such as documenting how business operates through IT should be driven by the business-driven outcome.

Failing to Engage and Communicate Across the Organisation

Another common mistake enterprise architects make is failing to communicate and collaborate effectively across the organisation. All architects want to be part of the strategic change process of their organisation, but sometimes they can become disconnected from other units. Some EA teams can act like an ivory tower of decision-makers. Likewise, stakeholders on both the business and IT sides can perceive EA teams as a bottleneck, and exclude them from their own transformation planning.

EA has the power to facilitate organisation-wide change, but EA teams need to be an active part of the business units and explain the target approach and the benefits it provides to both the business architecture and application architecture if they want to make proposed transformation strategy a reality. As continuous change happens, stakeholders are often driven by a primary motivator such as time-to-market, benefit realisation, or IT cost reduction. It can be difficult for all especially business unit owners to see beyond their next budget allocation cycle, which is where architects can step in. By showing the outcome between strategic and tactical approaches and long-term and short-term decision making, architects can help the wider organisation build a plan that achieves immediate goals while still working towards main projects.

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