Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ten Big Gaps in EA

Many EA practices are still hidden in ivory tower.  What doesn't EA do well? What needs to be further refined and enhanced or extended to increase the value the EA offers to those enterprises which choose to invest in and use it? And where are the biggest gaps in EA?

  1. The gap between holistic promise of EA and the limited delivery scope and limited influence to only IT. The real problem is that EA being left outside is the narrow scope. That narrow scope is often defined by the frameworks and not what is needed by the enterprise. EA methods are too focused on (technical) architecture, and not enough on supporting capability management, innovation, continuous improvement - and measuring!  
  1. Lack of common definition and understandingEnterprise architecture is a way of thinking about structures, flows, and the relationships between them. EA is a mind-set, a way of thinking. The gap exists due to:
    Lack of common, clear purpose;
    Lack of clarity as a product;
    lack of well understood set of deliverable components/products;
    lack of perception of value to the business by all levels of the business;
    lack of visibility to the business of a cohesive EA structure;
    lack of modeling standards & consistency in leveling & presentation;
    Lack of traceability down the levels to implementations;
    lack of expertise.  
  1. Another gap is senior management support. This applies to all the C-level (including the CIO), SVPs and VPs in the organization. If senior management doesn't understand or believe in the business benefits EA can or should deliver, they'll likely not support it, or only give it half-baked support. And we all know what happens to half-baked ideas and initiatives.  
  1. Another gap is Enterprise Architecture staffing. For many EA groups, they are staffed with IT techies who don't understand and don't care to understand how their companies make profits. The starting point is communications. It is important that EA practitioners improve their ability to communicate the value that they bring - or can bring - to their organizations. 
  1. There is Gap upon the organizational culture, which in many cases is tied directly to the gaps above. Culture has a way of restricting mindsets and staff selection - sometimes in good ways, sometimes in not so good ways, especially if it creates a drag on a company's ability to innovate and continuously improve. EA group can transition from this technical mentality to a more enterprise-focused mentality, especially when culture and mindsets may put a drag on change 
  1. The Gaps between Team Silos. Where EA can take the lead (and add more value) is to break the silos between the different teams that all are involved in the management of individual IT portfolios including but not limited to application portfolio, technology portfolio, information portfolio, demand-portfolio, change / existing project portfolio, IT risk, IT finance, etc. Often these silos have their own tools, methodologies, frameworks, people, etc. To get the EA wheel running, organizations need to break the silos, improve reusability,  integrate the dots between the individual portfolios, implement automated workflows, etc ... 
  1. EA is often left outside a business because it is reputed to BRING VALUE ONLY to COMPLEX problems or tamed issues. EA needs to have more business focused methods
    * more reuse (and perhaps increased effort in refining reference models?)
    * more support for integration with other frameworks
    * more support for modeling enterprise structure
    * more clarity and simplicity - value and content
    * increased competency
    * more business prioritization on where EA resources are directed
    * more management support
    * more maturity
    * more focus on silo breaking
    * more delivery on promises / value / fulfillment of objectives and expectations  
  1. EA speaks its own language, neither business language nor IT language. EA creates another layer of silo. In order to bridge the gap,
    --EA should help bridge multitude of viewpoint
    --EA should help manage multi-disciplinary knowledge
    --EA should help leverage multi-choice of strategy
    --EA should help balance multi-facet of facts and data..
  1. The Gap exists perhaps because EA is not engaged enough. EA brings more than just agreement or consensus. EA should be bringing understanding, including asking questions that may not otherwise be asked. EA should also include past experience to help avoid pitfalls that may be common without that understanding. In all of these cases, EA methodology brings valid tests to target the mentioned scenario, even if the person applying those practices is less familiar with the EA process than a practiced architect. 
  1. What may be another underlying cause of these gaps is the overall EA group's maturity. There are many reasons for that, including changes in business leadership, reorganization of business teams or units or accountabilities, and difficulties in getting visibility. Some of the major EA frameworks get too overwhelming; they are so general that they become overly abstract, making it difficult to actually map one's reality


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