Enterprise architecture from project to process – 4 steps

The ultimate goal of enterprise architecture work is to enable knowledge-based change management. Enterprise architecture can also be utilized for these reasons:

  • Lack of big picture.
  • Development activities that are sub-optimized or siloed,
  • Uncontrolled costs.

4 steps for continuous utilization of enterprise architecture

Even during the start-up phase of architecture work, it is important to define how the produced information will be utilized in existing processes that change or update the architecture. In order for architecture work to evolve from a project to a process, it is crucial that:

  1. The maintenance process of enterprise architecture is described. Activities that are not described are not a process but random actions. In practice, architecture management process is usually part of a larger architecture management model and may take the form of a yearly cycle, for example.
  2. The process has an owner who is ultimately responsible for the currency of the architecture. The owner of the process should also act as the leader of the start-up project.
  3. Responsibilities for producing architecture descriptions are defined within the process. Describing the enterprise architecture of organizations is of such scale that it is not worthwhile to leave it entirely to one person.
  4. Enterprise architecture descriptions are produced agilely and are boldly used in decision-making processes. This transforms the start-up project into a continuous operation, where the descriptions produced are prioritized based on the value they provide.

Don´t hesitate to use enterprise architecture visualizations and avoid a project-based approach in the long run

Regardless of the need, describing the current state of enterprise architecture usually begins in a project-based manner. However, there is a risk that the work will also be left as a project with an end date.

  • Architecture descriptions that remain unused do not provide value.
  • Visualizing a complex entities with the help of enterprise architecture helps you to understand it complex entities better, making it easier to develop and manage.
  • The results of architecture work should be boldly utilized, for example, in leadership and change management processes, but also in decision-making related to operational problem-solving.

Tell and show the benefits of enterprise architecture to those planning the future of your organization

Enterprise architecture can be seen as one of the strategic tools of the organization, helping the organization take steps towards its vision.

  • Tell and show the benefits of enterprise architecture to those planning the future of the organization and ensure that enterprise architecture is represented in the strategic work of your organization. Consider the benefits of architecture visualizations for different stakeholders in your organization and communicate the benefits to them. For example, through individuals responsible for business operations – find a relevant perspective for each stakeholder reviewing the descriptions, which they understand.
  • Enterprise architecture visualizations that are easily accessible and available to everyone are more likely to be utilized than those that only experienced IT professionals dare to touch. Produce enterprise architecture visualizations from different perspectives and approach enterprise architecture as a continuous operation. Visualizations should always be prioritized and targeted at the most valuable entities.
  • EA visualizations can be produced from different perspectives to ensure broader utilization within your organization – for example, descriptions made from an IT perspective may not necessarily be beneficial to individuals responsible for business operations. From the perspective of enterprise architecture, descriptions are never 100% comprehensive. However, they strive to provide a sufficient understanding of the targets of change and their relationships to other key entities.
  • Enterprise architecture, like many other methods describing operations, requires continuous improvement to achieve all goals. The best results are achieved by viewing architecture as a continuous operation from the beginning rather than as a project.

Identify the challenges in utilizing enterprise architecture in your organization

  • Poor goal setting: Have goals been set for architecture work that aim to solve the organization’s real problems? Are the goals defined into small enough parts so that achieving them supports the development of architecture work?
  • Resistance to enterprise architecture: Is the organization’s management committed to architecture work? Are there enough resources, expertise, and communication among professionals to produce and maintain enterprise architecture descriptions?
  • Weak utilization of enterprise architecture: Are the descriptions used to support decision-making? Are the enterprise architecture descriptions made to match the needs of the organization? Is there interest and expertise in utilizing enterprise architecture within the organization? Are terms used in enterprise architecture understandable to everyone?