Enterprise Architecture: A Practitioner View

By Prasad Palli and Dr. Gopala Krishna Behara, Wipro

Overview of Enterprise Architecture

IT organizations as usual are always ready to take challenges and start the journey in defining/refining their IT strategies and aligning with business strategies. During this journey, enterprises adopt a framework / methodology / best-practice / pattern / process called “Enterprise Architecture” which will help them to structure their processes and address growth together.

The effective management and exploitation of information through IT is a key factor to business success, and an indispensable means to achieving competitive advantage. Enterprise Architecture addresses this need, by providing a strategic context for the evolution of the IT system in response to the constantly changing needs of the business environment.

Without Enterprise Architecture

Based on our experience in Enterprise Architecture consulting, we highlight the common mistakes/frequent issues faced by the organizations in the absence of Enterprise Architecture.

Strategy

  • No link to business strategic planning and budget process
  • Slow and ineffective decision-making
  • Inability to rapidly respond to changes driven by business challenges
  • Lack of focus on enterprise requirements
  • Lack of common direction and synergies
  • Focusing on the art or language of EA rather than outcomes
  • Incomplete visibility of the current and future target Enterprise Architecture vision

Governance

  • Inability to predict impacts of future changes
  • Confusing “IT Architecture” With “Enterprise Architecture”
  • Lack of governance
  • Strict following of EA frameworks
  • “Ivory Tower” approach
  • Lack of communication and feedback
  • Limiting the EA team to IT resources
  • Lack of performance measures
  • No measurement criteria for EA metrics
  • Picking a tool before understanding your business needs

Technology

  • Increased gaps and architecture conflicts
  • Lack of commonality and consistency due to the absence of standards
  • Dilution and dissipation of critical information and knowledge of the deployed solutions
  • Rigidity, redundancy and lack of scalability and flexibility in the deployed solutions
  • Over-standardization
  • Non-adoption of Next Generation Technologies
  • Lack of integration, compatibility and interoperability between applications
  • Complex, fragile and costly interfaces between incongruent application

Enterprise Architecture Perspective

The main drivers of Enterprise Architecture of the enterprise are:

  • Highly optimized and flexible processes (Business & IT)
  • Ability to integrate seamlessly with systems within the enterprise and partners
  • Highly optimized and shared IT infrastructure
  • Loosely coupled systems to quickly respond to new processes or new product or new channel – Business value generation
  • Well mapping of business processes to application to information to technology
  • Strict adherence to regulatory and compliance factors

This article highlights our framework of Enterprise Architecture and its roadmap for the development and management of various components. It depicts how these components work together, what are the various measures of business units, enterprise and their outcome. The framework includes putting in place the proper organizational structure and hybrid business/IT roles, consolidating and standardizing information and data stores, and integrating applications and infrastructure to support the right business processes across the enterprise.

The key Components of Enterprise Architecture are depicted below.

EA1

EA – Practical Experience

Enterprise Architecture is not a one-time event, nor limited to specific projects or business units. EA is an on-going, iterative process that provides:

  • A common vision of the future shared by business and IT; business aware of IT and vice-versa
  • Guidance in the selection, creation and implementation of solutions driven by business requirements
  • Support for the various enterprise business lines through improved information sharing – provides plan for the integration of information and services at the design level across business lines
  • A means to control growing complexities of technology by setting enterprise-wide, leverageable standards for information technology
  • Defines an approach for the evaluation, consideration and assimilation of new and emerging technology innovations to meet business requirements

Some of the key aspects that teams will come across during EA execution:

  • EA is NOT a project: This is one of common mistake that most enterprises do. Enterprise Architecture is NOT a project, which can be delivered within specified timeframe. Enterprise Architecture is more of a culture that enterprises must adopt like SDLC process.
  • EA is NOT about review : Generally, people tend to think that EA is always for review and do policing team/individual performance and provide review reports to higher management. Instead EA is of bringing standards and making enterprise flexible to address changes as needed for business growth.
  • EA is NOT a one-time activity: The success of EA is possible only when enterprises will adopt it as part of their culture. For this to happen, Enterprise Architecture should execute as an iterative and on-going process and educate all stakeholders (business, portfolio managers, architects, program/project managers, designers, developers, operations, partners etc.) about the initiative and make them responsible for EA success.
  • EA is NOT for IT: Most of the times Enterprise Architecture initiative is driven by IT organizations without much involvement from Business. This is the first step towards a big failure. Depending upon the approach (whether it is top-down or bottom-up), business should be aware of what’s happening in the Enterprise Architecture initiative and be actively participating in the program when needed. Business is as equally responsible as IT for the success of an EA initiative.
  • EA is NOT a strategy: There is a common view across organizations that Enterprise Architecture is more of a strategy and teams like solution architecture, portfolio management and design & development and operations streams doesn’t have a role to play. In fact, the aforementioned teams are key contributors to Enterprise Architecture definition and its success by inculcating EA standards and best practices in their day-to-day activities.
  • EA is NOT all about cost-reduction: Most of the enterprises will look at EA from cost savings perspective that puts lot of pressure on IT to show some immediate benefits in terms of savings. With this kind of pressure, EA will get off track and be seen as more of a tactical initiative rather than strategic. Enterprises should start looking at EA more from Business-IT alignment, agility, innovation etc. which are strategic in nature along with cost savings.
  • EA is NOT one-man show: Enterprise Architecture is neither a CIO job or CFO or any CXO. It’s everybody’s job within an enterprise. During the EA strategy definition phase, probably more leadership involvement is needed and at EA implementation stage all the stakeholders will have a role to play and contribute one way or another.
  • EA is all about communication: One of the common mistakes that most enterprises do during the EA program is the team will work in silos and build huge pile of documents without having proper communication sessions within enterprise. At a minimum, the EA team should spend 50% of efforts towards communicating EA artifacts with the team and successful medium is through meetings rather than sending over emails or website.
  • Measure EA: During the initial stages of an EA program, the team should define measuring criteria/factors of EA (for ex: customer satisfaction, time to market, agility, cost savings, standardization, resources skills, trainings/certification etc.). Without these factors defined, EA will end up in ad-hoc planning which leads to chaos and frustrates leadership.
  • Adoption of Latest Technology Trends on EA: Traditional EA is more of the “Ivory Tower” approach which is modeled as framework-centered and tool-driven. Most of the EA function is technology-centric and defined as a one-time initiative. Application built on Traditional EA principles are business-constraint before they are completed. The Next Generation Enterprise Architecture (NGEA) is business-centric, global, agile, continuous and social digital network. Also, the organizations adopt latest digital capabilities like social web, SOA, big data analytics, omni channel customer management, cloud computing, virtualization, Internet of Things and so on. These technologies are interrelated and fit together to define Next Generation Enterprise Architecture for an organization.

The vision of an enterprise is shifting from Traditional EA to Digital Architecture which addresses Networked Community Capabilities (interacting with users through social media), globalization (Borderless Enterprise), innovation of products and services (open, closed & virtual innovation), collaboration (enable employees in decision-making, location flexibility, schedule flexibility), flexibility (flexibility to choose the technologies, infrastructure, applications).

The following diagram shows the Next Generation EA Model.

EA2

  • Network-centric enterprise: Online communities, workforce (network/social collaboration), business partners, customers and the marketplace
  • Enterprise resources: Teams, project-centric, process-based work conducted by communities
  • Business partners: Strategic partners and suppliers can be engaged together in operations
  • Customers: Customer care communities
  • Outside enterprise: Regulators, influencers, crowdsourcing participants, software developers and other interested parties
  • Third party vendors: Packaged vendors like SAP, Oracle ERP etc.
  • New channels: Web, mobile devices, Social business environments (communities of all functional types and audiences) and CRM

Conclusions

This article attempts to demonstrate practical views of an Enterprise Architect in improving the success rate of EA across the organizations. There is no hard and fast rule that enterprises should adopt to one particular framework or standard or approach. They can choose to adopt any industry specific framework, however it can be customized as per the needs of the enterprise. It does not force fit EA programs to any industry framework. The deliverables of EA should integrate with business planning, focus on business architecture and defining/streamlining business outcome metrics.

EA program definition should not span for years. It should deliver business value in months or weeks. Also, the program output should be actionable. Always measure impact but not activity.

Apart from these steps, enterprise should think about following other key aspects like:

  • Should have strong leadership commitments
  • Not always as-Is instead it can start with defining future state
  • Start with the highest-priority business outcomes

Use the right diagnostic tools — EAs must have a broad set of tools to choose from:

  • Ensure the program outputs are actionable
  • Measure impact, not activity
  • Adopt Next Generation Enterprise Architecture patterns
  • Socialize, listen, crowd source and be transparent
  • Do not re-architect legacy systems for the sake of re-architecting: most old systems should be wrapped, then replaced
  • Prepare to measure degree of success before starting on with the new architecture initiative
  • Do not over-design your systems of innovation or under-design the systems of differentiation or record

References

1.http://www.opengroup.org/architecture/togaf7-doc/arch/p4/comp/comp.htm

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Hari Kishan Burle, Raju Alluri of Architecture Group of Wipro Technologies for giving us the required time and support in many ways in bringing this article as part of Enterprise Architecture Practice efforts.

Authors

PalliPrasad Palli is a Practice Partner in the Enterprise Architecture division of Wipro. He has a total of 17 years of IT experience. He can be reached at prasad.palli@wipro.com

 

BeharaDr. Gopala Krishna Behara is a Senior Enterprise Architect in the Enterprise Architecture division of Wipro. He has a total of 18 years of IT experience. He can be reached at gopalkrishna.behra@wipro.com

 

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this article/presentation are that of authors and Wipro does not subscribe to the substance, veracity or truthfulness of the said opinion.

One comment

  1. There is so much to comment upon or so little depending on your view…
    In the mistakes/issues part, it looks rather obvious that, in the absence of EA, there would be no “focusing on the art or language of EA…” or “visibility of the current and future target Enterprise Architecture vision”…
    Also, it is unclear what the absence of EA has to do with the “Non-adoption of Next Generation Technologies”.
    The over-used “Ivory Tower” argument applies to any activity in the enterprise, not only to EA. Nothing works when approached as such…

    Further down, “The key Components of Enterprise Architecture” depicted in the first picture, such as Gateways”, “External Systems”,… Strategy”, “Goals & Objectives”, “Performance management”… , look more like the result of a brainstorming of items of any consequence in an enterprise, be them deliverables, activities, items in scope, systems, capabilities…. But what is an EA component then?

    In the diagram that shows the next generation EA model, there is nothing to suggest the “next generation” EA. Moreover it looks like “next generation” qualifies the enterprise not the EA. It’s not the same thing, after all.

    Little comment though on such views as:
    “Adopt Next Generation Enterprise Architecture patterns”…, such as?
    “Socialize, listen, crowd source and be transparent”…, so what?

    To me, the article looks like a loose collection of disjoint items such as general advice, known issues, used practices, deliverables, activities…
    The advice dispensed is often obvious, too generic, unnecessary…

    In the end, we are told, that all frameworks, methods… are equally good as long as we customise them and follow the advice here.
    It leaves us wonder what does EA deliver, what is and what is the scope of EA after all, from the perspective of this?

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