Saturday, August 31, 2013

EA Value - Quick Wins or Long-term Strategy?

EA Value is a combination of a long-term perspective with some quick wins.

Classically, EA delivers value from a long-term strategic alignment perspective. Increasingly, EA teams are feeling pressure to deliver tangible results quickly and on a per-project basis. So tough choice for Enterprise Architect:  Do you tend to drive value from a short-term / quick-win standpoint, a long-term strategic perspective, or a combination thereof?


There are two approaches in EA implementation – top-down and bottom-up approach - that should run in parallel (at the same time). The top-down approach is the long-term strategy that should be always in front of all stake-holders involved in EA implementation. The bottom-up approach is multiple projects based activities, that should always have very precise objective(s), SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound).

A combination of a long-term perspective with some quick-wins,  might be a good approach to present some deliverables continuously. EA provides the environment for the strategic planners to consider multiple future states. EA defines enterprise capabilities, standards, and reusable building blocks that can be used to create solutions. How these building blocks are used is up to the individual projects. EA provides guidance to these projects to support development of a good Solution Architecture. The quick wins will almost always be the result of Solution Architecture –the subset of Enterprise Architecture. These are the bottom-up, project-based initiatives that deliver the first tangible results - possibly reusing an existing application service or information source, or creating an efficient solution to a problem. 

Enterprise Architecture cannot provide tactical value without Solution Architecture. To know where you are going you need a future state architecture and a realization road map. EA establishes a future state vision and defines capabilities, standards, building blocks, etc.. to help the business achieve its long-term strategic objectives.. At the project level, Solution Architecture aligns the solution with the future state vision and employs these building blocks. Enterprise Architecture needs to go hand-in-hand with Solution Architecture to deliver tangible results to an organization. Enterprise Architecture often fails to get the credit when it is due, as Solution Architecture is where the value is actually realized and measured.

Well design the process to realize EA innovation: With an innovative EA approach, each step towards a never-ending future, will provide immediate benefits, the process scenario could be as:
1). EA Strategy — Create a future state EA vision, a strategy road map containing tactics to achieve the vision.
2). Communication — effectively communicates to all, the new vision and the strategy for realizing it. Communicating the vision is always the first EA step.
3). Action — the tactics for EA realization consists of a series of quick easy steps, where each is designed to produce a small, sustainable benefit.
4). Success — Quick sustainable success creates positive reinforcement of EA vision, and validates the EA strategy.
5). Momentum — Success creates momentum, new converts and apostles. Momentum is built & maintained by creating sustainable results. The effect of successful results and momentum is to cascade EA changes downward and outward.

Enterprise Architecture does not succeed in an ivory tower, the checklist with set of right questions can help assess EA and balance EA’s aspiration with its practicality: 
--> Do we collect architectural repository information: yes, but not consistently
--> Do we have an architectural modeling system: yes, but it doesn't have complete buy-in or enterprise-wide coverage (yet?)
--> Do we help our businesses create models of their capabilities and evaluate the maturity of their platforms: yes, but not consistently, and when we do, it is not always used.
--> Do we have enterprise funding for enterprise platforms? Yes but it is an immature mechanism at best
--> Do we have a taxonomy of capabilities and processes under change control with trained practitioners? Yes.
--> Do we offer business process improvement services? Yes, but not as a part of the EA or BA programs... it's a separate team focused on six-sigma and lean.
--> Do we help guide investments in key areas: wild inconsistency. Some areas, Strong. Others: silence. 
-> Do we collect architectural repository information: yes, but not consistently
--> Do we have an architectural modeling system: yes, but it doesn't have complete buy-in or enterprise-wide coverage (yet?)
--> Do we help our businesses create models of their capabilities and evaluate the maturity of their platforms: yes, but not consistently, and when we do, it is not always used.
--> Do we have enterprise funding for enterprise platforms? Yes but it is an immature mechanism at best
--> Do we have a taxonomy of capabilities and processes under change control with trained practitioners? Yes.
--> Do we offer business process improvement services? Yes, but not as a part of the EA or BA programs... it's a separate team focused on six-sigma and lean.
--> Do we help guide investments in key areas: wild inconsistency. Some areas, Strong. Others: silence.
--> Do we have a one-page view of organization: yes, but nothing that has resonated with the business.
--> Do we have visibility up to senior staff? very intermittently. Ballmer has seen us, but not often. Our metrics are on the CIO scorecard, which is reviewed by the COO, so we are not hidden. But it would be errant to claim that we have true senior staff visibility.
--> Do we have roadmaps to demonstrate maturity? Only at the program level, not at the enterprise level, and even at the program level, they are not all rationalized or even well aligned.
--> Do we have an Enterprise Information Model? Yes. Is it bought in, adopted, and connected to a well functioning governance model. No.
--> Do we have full time resources, well trained to provide EA, BA, IA, SA, and TA services? Yes, but coverage in some areas is spotty.
--> Are we widely respected as strategic influencers? No.
--> What do we want to be when we grow up? Consumable, Relevant, and Trusted 

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