Thursday, June 25, 2009

Actionable Enterprise Architecture

We, at work, are trying to define what is Actionable or Usable Enterprise Architecture (EA). As many of you that EA is a capability that almost every Chief Information Officer (CIO) has in his Information Technology (IT) Department. The exact definition of what EA means is different for every IT shop. Now trying to create an EA which delivers business value to an IT Department and to the overall business is as elusive as finding Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq. Actionable EA is not easy. Folks at US Government agencies think EA is a capability to add OMB Exhibit requirements. This makes things a bit harder. Anyway here are some tips to make EA successful in your IT department:
  1. What is the organization trying to achieve by having a EA capability? Each organization has different expectations for EA capability.
  2. Know your stakeholders and understand EA requirements: Identify the stakeholders in your organization who will benefit from the EA capability and then get to know them and understand their EA requirements. This way you are also marketing your program and capabilities.
  3. Have a Starting Point: Most EA folks say having a good EA framework like TOGAF or DODAF is a must since it helps you identify the various components of your IT Department and then you can use the framework as a gauge to see how IT Department is maturing and progress. If you don't have a framework or don't want to use one then identify various components in the IT Department, model them, access maturity and bimportance of each component within the IT Department
  4. Take It Easy - Don't propose strategies where whole IT Department is documented with extra fine granularity and various tiers (data, infrastructure, application, business, etc., etc.) of the enterprise are concurrently trying to improve their tier. Atleast initially, you should address a set of systems, see how your strategies are being implemented and then refine them for the next iteration.
  5. Market, Market and Market some more - Tactical functions within an IT Department like Help Desk support, Data Center services won't understand the long term benefits of EA. It is therefore beneficial to publish a EA website or a knowledge management site like Wiki. This allows people to understand what EA means to their IT department and we can level set their expectations.
  6. Problem Solving: - Show me an IT Department without problems and I will show how Pigs can fly! Every IT Department has problems related to policy, process, systems, resources, etc., etc. It is our job to show them how EA can solve their problems.

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