Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise Architecture
What's the key focus of your enterprise architecture (EA) strategy?

Top Answer: Enterprise architecture (EA) must address any asymmetry of information. Many times our senior people are not getting visibility into certain projects and then they’ll say, “I didn't know, how come you didn't tell me this thing was happening? I would've given you some options.” A key goal for us is to at least provide transparency to give that visibility into what everything looks like, so that leadership can understand what’s happening. Even if it’s not 100%, they can start to see the state of technology organized by capabilities, and understand exposure or get visibility into running out of compliance with our architectural standards.

How do you manage an extended enterprise architecture (EA) team with a federated structure?

Top Answer: Within our structure, my boss is the chief architect and he's the sole decision maker if we have any arbitration. He oversees all of architecture and I oversee all the capabilities needed to fulfill business requirements. We have architects in each business unit (BU), but part of how we work together is by coordinating our capability map with the framework. Our headcount is about 17K, but I own the framework and tooling so that there is a process for how everybody works across. There are still silos but because we see Intuit as one platform, like an integrated ERP for small businesses, so things have to come together. The company gets structured around how the capabilities are grouped within the capability taxonomy. We’re working on rationalizing those capabilities and structuring the teams accordingly to deliver. It requires us to bring all these silos together because they have to inter-operate in order for all the end-to-end integrated ERP on the platform to work. So even though silos exist, the vision is to come together to deliver an AI-driven expert platform.

What is your approach to enterprise architecture (EA) governance?

Top Answer: We are introducing the architecture review process and oversight for monitoring architecture posture. One key area of governance is everything around capability management, including how you define a capability and how you manage maturity so that your current state and future state are defined on a common scale. The second is around technology governance: What are the standards? Do you have a declaration of standards for capabilities? Are you measuring compliance around that?  We have introduced a solution architecture practice within EA with the goal of scaling platform architecture across Intuit in a consistent manner. Within the solution architecture practice, we have defined the Intuit Well-Architected framework as well as the tooling, design checklist and template; it enables solution engineers to design and deliver well-architected solutions. We don't bring those projects to the Intuit architecture reviews because I'm trying to make this a more self-serve process. We provide the teams with that framework and checklist, and although it does require some hand holding in the beginning, eventually you’ll empower individual teams to use those guides. For checks and balances, you get a score depending on whether a design is compliant. Your architecture metrics then reflect how many designs have been compliant. But if something is very big or complex in scope, we will bring it to our Intuit wide review so we can look into it from an end-to-end perspective using the same framework approach. So in some places I might be a driver, and sometimes I might be a contributor.

Is IT more focused on buying or building solutions?

Top Answer: In the world of IT, there's so much more emphasis on buying as opposed to building. That’s the model for IT going forward; there’s much less focus on the heavy-duty R&D work. And it means that you have to be very skilled at orchestration and configuration. But you need some form of architectural discipline. Otherwise, one day you’ll discover that your SAP environment is configured so much that you've customized yourself into a corner, and you're adversely impacting the business. Concerning the security space, the configs that have gone haywire in your environment are an attack surface; so what you thought was secure turns out not to be. That's a tough issue to address because in some respects, the SAPs of the world make it too easy to customize all these configs.

What comes first, enterprise architecture or digital transformation?

Top Answer: Think of your digital transformation initiatives as the driver and use those initiatives to decide what the building blocks are within your enterprise architecture. Then you can address gaps.  Organize yourself around the initiatives that matter most to the board and, therefore, the leadership of a company. That defines what you should be doing as a firm: How do you acquire more customers? How do you retain customers? Or under what conditions are you running at peak performance? Once you’ve defined the most important initiatives, decide what you currently have that enables you to address these faster and where there are gaps. If they are manifested as IT gaps, you can go off-path and build, or you can buy some tools — I usually decide to do a build. If it’s a process gap, you can readdress or remap some of your processes, both internal and external — this could include people and culture.

What are the top business use cases for the metaverse? Please chose up to three.

Top Answer: Other - it might make a great training environment for hazardous roles

What is your annual planning like these days?

Top Answer: Architecture plays a critical role in our annual planning, particularly as it’s based on Intuit’s capability map, from planning to execution. If you don’t have a capability taxonomy and map work to the capabilities, you will not get funding. You have to be able to outline what you are going to work on and who you will depend on, so dependency mapping is also key. 

What do you view as the biggest risk for potential cybersecurity incidents?

Top Answer: These categories don't appear to be mutually exclusive to me. Ransomware/Malware is often introduced through phishing campaigns, which require human error (or at least, gullability) to be successful.

How do skunkworks projects impact your organization?

Top Answer: I've come across situations in past roles where somebody's got a skunkworks application, maybe using open source, and they've been allowed to go outside of the enterprise architecture. And I've found that that person often develops this belief that the enterprise architecture doesn't apply to them, so they can do whatever they like. Then it starts to mushroom from there and it’s toxic to the architecture.

Are there any innovative processes that can accelerate a new software product introduction in enterprise?

Top Answer: I'm not using or aware of anyone in the company using something I would call "innovative" in the process.  However for every rollout we have named business partners that all go through training on the software prior to rollout.  And we also have business user "champions" who are trained in the application in depth prior to rollout and are to be users first contact for the first several weeks of deployment.  The business users are actually first contact before the Service Desk.  I wish I could say it worked every deployment, but it didn't.  If those champions were to over worked, they directed everyone straight to Service Desk, which of course didn't know the application in detail, so Service Tickets would need to be created and routed to the application team delaying assistance.   In general I would estimate it worked 70% of the time.   And we generally knew when Champions were overworked, and prewarned leadership about complaints that would be coming.

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What is the state of enterprise architecture (EA) in 2022? Benchmark your thoughts and experiences against your peers.

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