“No technology solutions are perfect”
Most of us have heard at one time or another a variant of “don’t let perfect be the enemy of progress.” This is a reminder that at some point you have to descend from the ivory tower of thought experiments, get your hands dirty and actually implement something. No technology solutions are perfect. The current rate of innovation almost ensures a project is already outdated the moment it is implemented.
When it comes to Enterprise Architecture (EA) perhaps the phrase should be “don’t let frameworks get in the way of progress.” There are dozens of accepted frameworks that have been developed to help design and manage EA. These frameworks are focused on describing the structure and components of an EA capability and not necessarily how to use EA to improve your business technologies and processes.
Widely known frameworks such as TOGAF, FEAF and Zachman offer extensive documentation, training, certification, etc. Unfortunately, these frameworks have become massively bloated over the years in an attempt to describe every possibility for every business. Keeping track of the growth of EA frameworks could easily be a full time job.
“Continuous improvement is the key to success”
The world of IT has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. In the early 1990’s the standard way to implement IT projects was the waterfall method where a precise and rigid set of steps were followed; gather requirements, design, implement, test, maintenance. Large projects with this method could take years to be completed.
As the dot-com boom in the 90’s dramatically increased the access and reliance on technology, the waterfall methodology was having trouble adapting to the speed of innovation. A number of more reactive methodologies were becoming popular. In 2001, the agile manifesto codified this type of thinking. Due to their effectiveness, agile methodologies emphasizing continuous incremental improvement quickly became the industry standard. This doesn’t mean that all of the concepts of the waterfall method were not useful. In fact, most agile processes still incorporate many aspects of the waterfall method.
“Don’t be afraid to pick and choose what works best for your organization”
EA capabilities have not always done well adjusting to the new agile way of thinking. Often there is too much focus on framework development and not enough on creating value for the enterprise. Does this mean that frameworks do not matter? No. It is certainly important to have a clear understanding of how your EA is structured. But remember that the framework exists to support and improve your specific capability. Don’t be afraid to pick and choose what works best for your organization. Do this knowing that EA should be driving continuous improvement to the business.
“EA Framework documentation is not a measurement of EA effectiveness”
Measure the effectiveness of EA by the value being delivered to the business rather than how well you have designed and documented the framework. Never forget why you have an EA capability. EA must be facilitating communication and alignment across the organization allowing for informed decision making that continuously improves business information systems, processes, and outcomes.
EA must become less focused on frameworks and more focused on continuous improvement to succeed in an agile technology world of supercharged innovation.
About the Author
Scott Stewart is an Enterprise Architect and has worked as an IT professional for more than 20 years where he has done everything from strategic planning to racking servers.
Back to INSIGHTS