The 8 issues that keep enterprise architects awake at night

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As enterprise architects are expected to be able to help their organisations cope in an increasingly fast-paced, customer-focused, connected and insight-driven economy, they are finding that their old ways of doing things are no longer appropriate. This causes them to question their methodologies, operating models and strategies.

That's according to Forrester Research, which analysed 265 queries received from enterprise architects over a period of 12 months.

Alex Cullen, author of Forrester's inquiry spotlight report based on these queries, said that the analysis showed that there were eight basic questions relating to enterprise architecture (EA) itself - the team, the practice, and its positioning within business and the technology organisation - that worried EA practitioners most.

  1. Methodology. EA started out using a domain-organised, waterfall methodology but this doesn't work anymore. Cullen advises enterprise architects to focus on the decisions that their stakeholders are making, and give them just-enough architecture so that they can make better-informed decisions. They should also adopt, adapt or even invent new methodologies to deal effectively with their changing environment.
  2. Strategy. While EA programs often start out as a mechanism for controlling costs, companies today prioritise revenue growth and customer experience. This demands a new focus for EA which must decide whether it is to be strategic-solution-oriented or enterprise-platform-oriented.
  3. Tools. Enterprise architects are concerned about choosing the right tools for their projects. Cullin suggests that because EA programs have moved far beyond their original technology standards and governance needs, EA professionals need tools that go beyond modelling and are able to handle strategic portfolio management.
  4. Organisation and operating model. Enterprise architects are concerned about best practices for creating a more Agile practice, finding EA talent, moving from a historical focus on projects and technology to a focus on business and strategy, best organisation models for business architecture programs, creating/ documenting architecture, and embedding architecture thinking in the broader organisation. Cullin recommends that enterprise architects forget old EA role definitions, and develop a new service catalogue that makes it clear that EA is providing services, not just creating models.
  5. Governance. The position, composition and functioning of architecture review boards (ARBs), and how they assist with making the governance process more valuable is a major concern, particularly in the face of greater emphasis on business strategy and the rise of Agile delivery methods. Cullen recommends that ARBs be reinvented to make governance more inclusive.
  6. Architecture metrics. Typical metrics question topics range from measuring complexity to key performance indicators for the EA program, Cullen maintains that not only should architecture metrics track the impact or value of the activity, but also measure the results of the work on other major initiatives within the organisation.
  7. Best practices for assessing program maturity. While many enterprise architects are concerned about the best practices for assessing or reassessing the maturity of the EA practice, Cullen says the maturity itself should not be the goal of the assessment because maturity does not equate to value for stakeholders. Rather, they should focus on being mature at what really matters.
  8. The value of EA. Enterprise architects now that they can't count on EA value being self-evident. Cullen emphasises that they have to learn how to effectively communicate the value of an architecture strategy or the EA program itself.
See also