Monday, November 25, 2013

EA as the ‘Best Practice” Evangelizer

The best practice is not a panacea; the next practice is not a secret sauce.

EA is a holistic view of an organization which provides an architectural oversight of organizational processes and shared data, EA provides a capability architecture and each capability is supposed to generate some business outcome and EA recommends guidelines, standards, policies and practices to achieve business outcomes as per organization goals and objectives. EA enables a common vocabulary and communion amongst various stakeholders to achieve a Target State of enterprise with improved capabilities, better ROI.  

EA do recommend best practices or next practices but you can't say EA is just the collection of best practices. EAs look at best practices, as part of knowledge management effort, but there is far more involved in EA than simply selecting and implementing applicable best practices. Knowledge Management is a collection of best practices. EAs gather, create, tweak and evangelize best practices as a small part of their portfolio. Best practices are second-hand knowledge. You can move ahead with second-hand knowledge, but second-hand knowledge is not your success per se.

The best practices and guiding principles are a necessary step for EAs being enabled to do their job of Architecture. It’s a way to have EA and the organization to align on fundamental building blocks and approaches. Without this, there would be an undisciplined approach to system delivery life cycle leading to chaos and inefficiencies, cost and time overruns, and building of a, generally speaking, hodge-podge eco-system. EA needs to have the best practices and guiding principles if they plan on executing their value proposition and demonstrating the "E" or Enterprise part of EA.

EA is a discipline with required practice to become the best at aligning and executing on business needs with IT capabilities. While various frameworks offer best practice, EA is the capability of coupling together these methodologies/frameworks, to define a model that works for the business you do EA for. The key is applying the frameworks to organizations and deciding which best practice fits and then modifying it accordingly to achieve the outcome to meet the original requirement. One size does not necessarily fit all.

EA is definitely not a collection of “best practices.” However, many of the EA practitioners put a lot of efforts in evangelizing best practices: EA as a structured process of:
- information collection, refinement, recording
- choosing best practices and aligning within organization constraints, goals, strategies
- plan transformation/inventory, measure value, saving, side-effects
- some forecast of further steps
- explain transformation/inventory/process 

One of the key challenges of the EA function is the mastering of the complexity of the "enterprise": EA provides methods, tools, guidelines, governance etc. to optimize complexity and achieve unique Best Capabilities for an organization. Best Practices may be considered as guidelines and techniques recommended by any EA framework to achieve "Best Capabilities" with an improved organization. One thing which should be considered is, whether the adopted best practices are aligned with the organization’s business requirements, strategies, goals, etc…

EAs evangelize and educate about architecture: An enterprise's architecture as the structure of its data, the structure of its processes, the interactions between the two, informed by the enterprise's goals and objectives. The EA's job as creating, documenting, rationalizing, optimizing, educating about, evangelizing about, and consulting about that architecture. The EA should also have authority and responsibility for architectural oversight of all creation of, and changes to, the enterprise's data and processes -- the "bones" of its architecture -- to ensure that those data and processes stay consistent with the enterprise's architecture, or that the architecture is adapted to accommodate them. 


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