Saturday, March 16, 2013

How does Enterprise Architecture differ from Strategic planning?

 An effective EA practice is CRITICAL to successfully drive any transformational change at any organization level. Always remember, it is People, Technology and Process.

According to Wikipedia: “Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy, including its capital and people."

Enterprise architecture (EA) is the process of translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communicating and improving the key requirements, principles and models that describe the enterprise's future state and enable its evolution.”

More specifically, how does enterprise architecture differ from strategic planning?

1.   EA as a Framework for Strategic Planning

At its most basic, EA is only business and technology architecture; at its most comprehensive, EA consists of business and technology architectures, enterprise culture, and business strategy.
  •   EA enables one to look at the entire enterprise (business & technology) in an architectural and structural way. It is very difficult for a business strategy to be developed without complete knowledge of the 'as-is' state across the breadth of resources the enterprise holds which must include its capabilities. Strategic Planning is based on EA components and is executed as part of the EA process of transforming the Enterprise from the current to future states. 
  •   EA does not do strategic planning for you. But with a proper EA, you should have all the components of the Enterprise and their relationships to consider in strategy design and execution. You would be able to take into consideration of all systems, technology, organizational units and their dependencies. Ideally nothing would be left out, and in execution, there would be no conflicts for resources. Strategy execution would be then naturally implemented in an Enterprise Project Portfolio transforming all components in synch, according to vision.
  • EA provides the building blocks that enable and Organization to implement its Strategic Plan. You don't need EA to do the strategic planning but EA, through that intimate knowledge of elements and dependencies, enables a holistic view and application of methods such as Enterprise Project Portfolio Management.  EA Defines how to implement the business strategies in a structured and systematic approach and develop the roadmap. This includes policies, principles, standards and guidelines for Business processes, information, applications and technology.

2. EA is a Bridge between Strategy & Execution

Strategic planning consists of two parts: Strategy Formulation, and Strategy Implementation., EA is neither strategy nor implementation, but right in between.

  • Indeed, EA, like many other functions, would have an input to strategy. EA gets involved in clarifying the Strategic Vision - interacting with stakeholders who don’t have a well defined "strategy" - it feels like EAs are defining the strategy. However,  EA does not formulate full strategy -- rather they formulate a PART of the strategy. They are not limited to only implementing the strategy. With proper EA, you have an idea of how your strategy to reduce costs, for instance, is supported by a reduction in duplication of platforms, people and processes. its mapping mechanism and how to assemble the overall Enterprise strategy from business, technology... strategies. 
  • EA provides a systematic & holistic approach to execute the strategy: EA as the architecture of the Enterprise, with an integrated blueprint and associated information, offers a solid base for road mapping, planning and strategy specification and execution because EA describes the components of the Enterprise and their relationships.  
  • Strategic planning is strategy formulation; enterprise architecture is about bridging strategy and execution. Strategic Planning, centers around the notion of "Figure out what you want, Figure out where you are and Figure out how to get to where you want to be"; the purpose of EA is to enable business strategy implementation and business improvement. Without EA there is no context, framework, blueprint, roadmap, etc. The scenarios should be: Strategy formulation -> Strategy ->Enterprise Architecture -> implementation projects -> strategy realization 

3. EA and Strategic Planning go Hand in Hand

EA and Strategic Planning go hand in hand to deliver the outcome. Without both you are less likely to succeed with either.

  • The City Planning Analogy to illustrate how enterprise components can fit together, zoning plan demonstrates the business make up of the city, municipal services identifies what services are common across the city and infrastructure identifies what reusable facilities have to be put in place to deliver city services to the zones. Most people have little difficulty relating to city planning. Enterprise Strategy should be driven by one's customer needs, marketplace demands, and more importantly a practical way to sustain competitive advantage in your product or service offerings.  
  • Strategic planning, EA and organizational change need to be used, together, for what they are: tools and techniques are used to help take an organization from its current state to the position in the future as determined by the Board. The role of enterprise architecture will:
    -> Provide advice and guidance during strategy development
    -> Document current and develop future business architectures
    -> Document current and develop future technology architectures      
  • Enterprise Architecture models the Business Organization, IT, Processes and Governance to provide an overall view of the Organization. So, when an Organization provides its Strategic Plan, the IT side of the business can be aware how the plan will affect future IT requirements and IT can make strategic decisions to assist in implementing the Organizations Strategic Plan. Good Enterprise Architects will assist you in understanding who the right strategic partner is. They will know what capabilities the partner should have and whether they have them or not. 
  • Execution is key part of any meaningful EA exercise. EA focuses and drive both from business and technology perspectives to achieve and realize the envisioned enterprise strategy. EA should drive roadmaps and address any barriers to achieve the target state in a more practical manner. An effective change is only attainable with a well planned exercise involving current and future state dependencies along with influencing the culture to adopt new methods.    
Therefore, EA is not equal to strategy, but an effective EA practice is CRITICAL to successfully drive any transformational change at any organization level. Always remember, it is People, Technology and Process


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How the Enterprise Architect Strategic plan would approach the preparation for the IT Planning?

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