Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Top Ten Enterprise Architecture challenges

 A mature organization is a base to start a successful EA program; on the other side, an effective EA program improves organizational maturity. 

Compared to many industry practices, EA is considered an emerging discipline which still takes time to mature, in the last two decades, there are many challenges literally EA programs face, organizations need to analyze them and understand the underlying causes

  1. Fitness for purpose. Consistent definition and understanding of EA as a discipline adds to challenges. Most organizations stand up EA to "fix" an organization without giving it any purpose. Often, consultants/contractors try to sell the Titanic of EA before they can prove a sailboat that can float. This is what often results in annoying the clients and has lead to the view of EA being shelf-ware.      
  2. Senior executives buy-in and continuous focus and support upon the EA program. This is like a chicken and egg issue. Executives would have continuous support if EA can deliver value,  but EA needs to continuous executive supports to show value. EA is in a domain where you don’t find too many quick wins. In addition, a successful EA would often lead to corporate culture change. Without strong senior executives’ commitments, corporate culture change just won’t happen. Many feel that time and money are being wasted until they start seeing in the results. 
  1. Understand Stewardship and Ownership differences. Too often an EA attempts to take ownership of a business process and ends up getting blamed. An EA is a Steward to practice strategic EA Leadership & Operational Stewardship --> alignment of execution with Strategy is extremely critical for EA success. 
  1. EA Maturity: EA engagement model and governance. This gears toward corporate processes, politics, and people issues. Enterprise Architecture is simply a heavy burden to a lot of people and projects if EA engagement and governance model is not efficient and effective. Somehow, a fragmented EA engagement model and governance process are very common at the workplace. It seems to take forever to streamline. In other words, Governance and Compliance inward are extremely important.  
  1. Organizational Maturity. A mature organization is a base to start a successful EA program; on the other side, an effective EA program improves organizational maturity. Too many organizations try to institute an EA program when the organization is not prepared to do so. Often, leadership hears or gets the pitch that EA will save the day and they start a program, without supporting the program, thinking that "doing" EA will fix everything. EA requires wide preparation and active participation. 
  1. Business/Architecture Alignment --> This has to be earned by EA Team and should not be considered a blank check or entitlement, as this would require relationship management and transparency in delivery to match the business priorities. PMO and Architecture team are critical for earning and establishing the trust.  
  1. Move from Vendor/Group/Institute-centric EA to Customer-centric EA. Advance from just being DNA or “enterprise genotype” (a full nomenclature of enterprise artifacts) to provide a formal link with “enterprise phenotype” (a set of observable characteristics such as performance) and business ecosystem.  
  1. Constant jockeying with "tactical project savings" vs. "sustainable strategic advantage" argument...(classic misalignment of project team goals with architecture team goals!).  Starting too big,  that the EA initiative doesn't get success as originally intended. It is extremely important to start small and produce results to gain trust. Plan and prioritize some quick wins to demonstrate what change a complete EA can bring to an enterprise. Though it is very difficult since it can backfire at times. Still, EA needs to demonstrate directly quantifiable ($$$) value - contribution to the company's bottom line or direct savings as a result.

  1. Mature EA Team: The EA team doesn't just believe in Framework and Technology but also has the capabilities to carry the business with them and got a thick skin to sail through politics and policies Staff. Also, it is not about the "Chief Architect," it is about the team of architects/support staff, a mature EA team. 
  1. EA Skills/Talent: Architecture is more of an art than a science and requires more skills than certifications. Enterprise Architect requires broad knowledge from many aspects of, business domains knowledge, technologies project management experiences, and organizational skills. There are many channels to mature as an Enterprise Architect. Enterprise Architects with different maturing paths may see the same organization with very different challenges.
Hopefully, by collecting enough EA challenges, organizations can do more analysis to come out with useful action plans and solutions, continue to brainstorm the next generation of EA and mature EA next practices.


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