The First 100 Days of an Enterprise Architect

April 02, 2018

Contributor: Christy Pettey

A Gartner roadmap for how enterprise architects can succeed in their new role.

To be a successful enterprise architect, you must first establish the foundation for a sound approach. This requires a firm grasp on best practices, an understanding of how to deliver value, and clearly communicated goals and objectives.

If you are tasked with starting, restarting or refreshing your organization's enterprise architecture (EA) program, then your business is looking for leadership and direction. Your goal should be to improve the organization’s strategy and decision-making ability through the use of technology to achieve business outcomes.

“ Your first 100 days in the job will be critical to how you are perceived for years to come”

“Thorough preparation, assessment, planning, acting, measuring and — above all, communication — can greatly enhance your chances of success, and there’s no time to lose,” says Jack Santos, research vice president at Gartner.

“Your organization will be counting on you to hit the ground running, and your achievements during your first 100 days in the job will be critical to how you are perceived for years to come,” advises Santos. “Use this time to communicate the business value of EA clearly, engage your stakeholders in regular, open communications and establish your credibility.”

Prepare phase (Days -10 to 15)

The initial phase starts before you walk through the doors of your new workplace. Take the time to understand what is expected of you and the EA practice, and what success will look like. Before officially starting your new job, review your job description and conduct an initial review of your organization's goals and aspirations for EA.

“ Connect plans explicitly to the organization's strategic investment objectives”

“With this knowledge under your belt, you’ll be fully up to speed from day one and ready to begin building relationships with the key stakeholders for the EA practice,” explains Santos.

“You’ll also have the means to create your all-important introductory communications. Be brief, clear and consistent, and be sure to connect plans explicitly to the organization's strategic investment objectives, thus demonstrating that the EA roadmap clearly contributes to business success.”

Assess phase (Days 0 to 30)

During this period you’ll start to map out a more detailed assessment of the organization and the capabilities needed to support the EA practice. This represents an opportunity to engage your stakeholders in a discussion about their priorities and the organization's strategy.

Developing this detailed assessment will require you to:

  • Assess your organization's EA maturity. Identify a target maturity level to achieve in the short and long term. Focus on how to build the capabilities needed to get there.
  • Determine how much time your management expects you to spend on strategic versus tactical efforts. Understanding this balance will help you to understand expectations.
  • Evaluate your organization's culture. The organization's culture sets the tone for how EA must be applied to be successful.
  • Position EA for agile and bimodal development approaches. The organization may also be looking at creating a bimodal IT organization, and may be expecting EA to operate in Mode 1 and Mode 2.
  • Prepare EA to lead technology innovation practices. Understand the relevance of potentially disruptive and emerging technologies to the business. Incorporate that knowledge into your input to the business discussion of outcomes.
  • Create your elevator pitch. Develop a brief business-outcome-focused statement to deliver to key decision makers at a moment's notice. Engage key stakeholders, both formally and informally.

Plan phase (Days 15 to 45)

This is the point at which you’ll begin to shape a plan to start your EA practice and create a roadmap along which it will evolve. It should be kept high level to expand and build on for six-month, 12-month and two-year plans. This is a living document that you will review regularly with your EA stakeholders, EA team and management team.

Developing your brand will help you frame your efforts and give everyone in contact with EA a clear, memorable anchor. Develop your governance, frameworks and processes to provide structure to the EA practice so that it can work effectively on a day-to-day basis.

As a large percentage of EA time is dedicated to developing teams, determine early on how you will create a team that supports your stage plan. Consider whether team members have strong interpersonal skills and the ability to effectively build consensus and work through roadblocks. If not, additional communications and soft-skills training may be needed.

Act phase (Days 30 to 80)

“Now it’s time to deploy your plan, get your stakeholders engaged and really demonstrate the value of EA to the organization,” says Santos. “Define your execution process and show how you will move from business strategy through the individual initiatives and projects that support it. This will also help you understand what EA is doing at each step, and what EA deliverables are needed.”

“ This is a good time to implement any initial organizational changes among direct reports”

As you move through delivering business outcomes, engage your stakeholders to ensure that your delivery is on track. This is done formally through the governance model, and, often more importantly, through regular formal and informal meetings. This is a good time to implement any initial organizational changes among direct reports, based on your assessments of skills and behaviors.

Measure phase (Days 45 to 100)

Here is where you should establish metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that track the performance of the EA practice and ensure it is delivering business value. Start by following these four key rules: ·

  • Develop business-focused metrics
  • Make metrics quantitative and qualitative
  • Regularly track and review metrics with key stakeholders
  • Focus on continuous improvement:

Use your findings to communicate early wins, successes and challenges to the wider organization.

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