Sunday, September 22, 2013

EA as Management Compass


Architecture only adds value when it is used. Everyone agrees on such statement. However, specifically, do CXOs and Board ever use EA as communication tool or management compass?

The enterprise architecture is used to make strategic decisions to drive the future of the company. The data provided in the architecture provides guidance/direction on what steps need to be taken by the board and senior executives to reach their strategic goals for the company.

The architecture also helps to communicate what needs to be done down the line to the various functional domain managers responsible for implementing those steps coming from the board. While the 'C' level may act on recommendations coming from an architecture initiative, they don't really use the architecture itself. The recommendations could just have easily come from some other process.

EA is a just in time business. It is incremental such that each step delivers value without having to wait until the whole enterprise is covered before any value can be derived. Were it otherwise, then reticence to invest by CXO would be very understandable. 

Maybe one of the underlying values of architecture is just having the holistic view available... and then be able to shape any options.  Identifying options for possible future state architectures is actually an important use for the architecture ... especially when it’s more than just the business changing. (or when not to change something).

Be clear about the CXO decisions that EAs are seeking to inform - if pricing and billing relies on particular capabilities, and the manager wants to know which capabilities need strengthening, and are there any capabilities she/he is missing, then EA can help. If the decisions are about changing the currently set prices, this is not something EA is seeking to inform. .As CXO are not primary actor in creating/maintaining EA assets, but definitely as secondary actor to use EA asset. An EA could not produce EA assets without interaction with executives who provide input. 

Make it easy to use. Bottom line is if you create an artifact that enables CXOs to make a more informed decision, they will probably use it - as long as they understand how to use it and there isn't a simpler tool (actionable artifact) that could be used. There are similarities between spreadsheet and EA. 
* both are flexible tools
* both deliver nothing without an intelligent driver
* both can produce garbage and waste time 

Include an executive summary going over the major points and findings. This will allow C-Level execs to overview it and capture the insight. For example, summarize the business plan for the expansion into the new geography: ‘we will increase revenue by xxx six months following the launch of the new services... Our capability map on page 3 has been updated to show 2 additional capabilities located remotely and increased capacity of 3 of our current capabilities. No changes to our process model. The cost of implementing these new and updated capabilities is yyy.yy.’., etc.  

Where are the gaps that EA is filling? People do activities to create these assets / artifacts / work products. People do activities to create strategies ... or activities to make changes (transformation), or activities to deliver products and services. How should EA fill the gaps in a number of levels
1) Revenue target, investment required
2) Org chart change
3) Process change
4) Capability change 




The EA Assets should engage the rest of the organization to get involved to help with the implementation of the architecture. So, when does a process owner take the EA Assets and start managing a process and associated tools. This extended involvement needs CXO support such as appoint a process owner, fund the process work and associated tools, etc. So there is a lot of USE as the EA Assets are implemented and brought to life in the organization.

EA is not only about the future of architecture, but also about the future of business. As every business leader needs to care about the future state of business, and how to get there, can EA really play such crucial role as management compass, to navigate the business journey through the rocky road ahead?

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