Who needs Enterprise Architecture?
By Aaron Tan Dani
Who needs Enterprise Architecture? Basically, companies that make any combination of the five common mistakes with the IT department would benefit from Enterprise Architecture. Let’s look at these mistakes one by one.
IT and business miscommunication
Your IT team talks in technical terms while your business team cannot articulate their IT expectations. This is a serious issue that causes many companies to lose money.
The result of this miscommunication is that requirements are not defined correctly and thus do not align with business needs. Constant change requests to fix this situation end up costing lots of money. According to Forrester Research, 66% of IT projects fail due to miscommunication, costing businesses in the US a yearly loss of US$30 billion!
The solution is in finding a common vocabulary that allows the IT team to think in technical terms but yet familiar with business jargon, and for the business team to accurately express what it needs. Enterprise Architecture facilitates a common vocabulary for communicating and reconciling critical issues between IT and business teams.
Islands of systems
Many companies implement IT projects as standalone systems or “separate islands” which do not complement and cannot even communicate with each other. Typically, different departments purchase different systems with different applications, databases, hardware and infrastructure.
This unnecessarily increases complexity and raises maintenance costs not just for hardware and software but also for the human resources needed to support these different systems.
Enterprise Architecture allows you to define the blueprint and standards for your business, data, applications and technology. This enables you to review the entire system and eventually make a strategic decision on whether to decommission the existing system and buy a completely new one or to modify the existing system so that they could at least communicate with each other.
Stuck in automation mode
In the early days of computing – circa the 80s – the approach was to use IT to automate certain business processes. Such a scenario was very project management focused, meaning that time, resources, and budgets were fixed based on broadly-defined requirements in the early stages of the software development lifecycle.
IT project failures, high cost of maintenance and lack of business value from IT investments were common. The problem is that many companies are today still stuck in this outdated automation mode.
What companies need to do is to drag themselves into the digitization mode which is more Enterprise Architecture-focused. What this means is that Enterprise Architecture development comes before project management, which should result in technology that is more agile. Ultimately, you will see more IT project successes, successful business and IT integration, and IT that shows a positive ROI.
IT and business strategies not aligned
The role of the enterprise architect is fundamentally to map out what applications and technology a company should implement to keep itself competitive. As such, the architect must understand the business goals of the company.
The problem is that many enterprise architects come from the IT side, not the business side, and usually does not understand the business needs of the company. Most enterprise architects report to the CIO or CTO as opposed to reporting to the COO or CEO.
It might be too much of a stretch to place the enterprise architect inside the business team but he should be familiarized himself with the business requirements of the company so as to be able to integrate the company’s technology and business strategies. In other words, while the enterprise architect might still be in charge of supervising the data architecture, application design and application operations, he must be familiar with business processes, customer interactions and business strategies that will need to be implemented via technology.
IT viewed as a cost centre instead of an investment for ROI
Return on investment is difficult to measure when it comes to IT, which is often seen as a cost of doing business. But with Enterprise Architecture, which is designed to help companies make decisions to improve the productivity of the business through effective and efficient use of IT, it is possible to view IT as an investment that generates measurable value.
Servers, applications, and networks are IT assets designed to process information or transmit information, which is the real asset you should seek a return on. In today’s world, information is king and should be viewed as a core asset that can help generate positive returns for the company.
These positive returns could come in the form of more revenue or money saved due to increased staff productivity. It could also be the development of new or improved revenue streams. It could also be new or broader distribution of your services. There can be many benefits resulting from proper utilization of Enterprise Architecture to turn your IT projects from an expense into an investment that generates positive returns.
If you find that your organization suffers from any one or any combination of the above five mistakes highlighted here, it could definitely benefit from enterprise architecture. It’s as good at time as any to get started on it.
Aaron Tan Dani is President of EA-Chapter, SCS [email protected]
Visit our website https://www.scs.org.sg/Chapter/ea-homepage.php and join our activities as part of the EA-Chapter to learn how you can implement Digital-Business-driven EA in your organisation.
Aaron Tan Dani is Founder and Chairman of Iasa Asia Pacific [email protected]
Visit our website http://www.iasahome.org to learn more about ITABoK (IT Architecture Body of Knowledge) skillsets and about the roles, scopes and impacts of EA Specializations (Business Architecture, Information Architecture, Software Architecture, Infrastructure Architecture and Solution Architecture).