8 Steps for a High-Impact Enterprise Architecture Program

Enterprise architecture programs must follow an organized approach that evolves with changing business strategy.

Since 2013, Gartner has observed a dramatic resurgence and growth of interest in enterprise architecture (EA). Much of the growth and interest is being driven by the demands of digital business and the need for CIOs to start, restart or renew their EA programs. This resurgence is helping CEOs and fellow business leaders deliver on the promise of digital business transformation and optimization. But where should you begin?

Saul Brand, Senior Research Director, Gartner, outlines eight steps that successful EA and technology innovation leaders follow to build a high-impact EA program.

Step 1: Adopt a business-outcome-driven EA program

Start or restart the EA program by adopting a business-outcome-driven EA (BODEA) approach. EA programs that focus on business, technical or IT tactical requests generally do not demonstrate and deliver business value in the digital era. Focus first and foremost on linking all EA and IT efforts to business direction and strategy, then address the “why” and “what” — before the “how” of “doing” EA.

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Step 2: Construct a value proposition

Construct and pitch a value proposition for a BODEA program to achieve organizational buy-in and mandate. The BODEA value proposition must be appealing, enticing and credible to the audience.

Step 3: Start with business architecture first

Organizations that support business architecture as an integral part of EA have a significantly higher ability to execute on business strategy. This is because they have a clear understanding of the strategy and its impact on business and IT, and guidance to drive delivery. Start BODEA efforts by constructing a set of business architecture deliverables that are both interesting and valuable to business leaders.

Step 4: Determine organizational design

Work with CIOs and IT leaders to ensure the EA program’s organizational structure is defined by its connections with other business and IT departments. The EA program’s organizational design must reflect efforts to respond to disruptions and changes, ensure collaboration and enable flexibility around key digital business concepts.

Step 5: Determine skill sets and staffing

Take stock of team members’ current skills and design a plan to close the skills gap to enable digital business. Additionally, it’s important to implement a training program to develop EA team resources and plan a career path for each team member.

Step 6: Determine governance and assurance

EA and technology innovation leaders must define the extent to which the EA program has decision-making (governance) and compliance (assurance) rights, and take on the role of giving guidance and advice where needed in both projects and products. The “command and control” style of EA governance and assurance does not work in the digital era.

Step 7: Determine business value metrics

Link the EA value proposition and the EA program’s performance measurement to business metrics. Good measurement proves that the cost and effort required to run the EA program is adding value to the organization. EA leaders must focus the measurement on how EA is delivering business value by constructing efficiency and effectiveness metrics.

Step 8: Construct a charter

EA leaders should construct a practical and realistic EA charter. A successful EA charter establishes the basis for the EA program’s existence and reflects its purpose within the EA team, across the organization and with management. An EA charter based on “old-school” EA thinking will lead to a failed EA program.

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