Enterprise Architecture article by Bright consultant published in CIO Magazine
CIO Magazine published an expert article on Enterprise Architecture written by Bright Consulting Enterprise Architect Svetoslav Pacev. The publication can be read in Bulgarian on cio.bg in addition to the hardcopy in the March edition of the magazine.
To remove the language barrier, please read below an English translation of the article.
Enterprise Architecture – balance between IT effectiveness and business innovativeness
Companies competing on the same market with the same structure and capital, using similar technologies, achieve surprisingly different financial results. In fact, many companies do not differ from the best performers in the endeavor to have the best and latest technologies; it is not even a rare for their IT budgets to be significantly bigger. Does this not mean that information technology costs are not directly related to the results of the company?
The lack of direct correlation between IT expenses and the results achieved contradicts the widely imposed opinion that the investments in information technologies in some almost magical way reduce the costs for maintaining the core business and are a prerequisite for competitive advantage.
Yes, in practice the amount of investments in IT is not the main factor for success. It is the value added by the management team who manages these investments that makes the big difference. Unlike the mechanics for example, where each machine net consumes more energy than it produces, the management team is able to construct an organization which performance (Net Value Added) exceeds the value of resources necessary for its operation. Of course, for achieving this goal, the responsible team needs proper tools and processes, including Enterprise Architecture (EA).
The main objective of Enterprise Architecture development is to assist the Business by providing technology and process structure upon which to company’s IT strategy can be developed. Effective management and use of information through information technologies is the key to the business success of the organization and a base of its competitive advantage. Enterprise Architecture addresses these needs by providing strategic guidance for the development of IT systems in the context of the constantly changing business environment.
A good Enterprise Architecture provides an opportunity for achieving the right balance between IT efficiency and business innovation. On the other hand, it ensures the availability of an integrated IT strategy sufficient to achieve the optimal synergy within the organization.
From a technological perspective, EA provides the following business benefits:
- Effective and efficient IT resources management:
- Reducing the cost of development, implementation and maintenance of IT systems;
- Improving the working compatibility between IT systems;
- Improving the management processes for IT systems;
- Facilitate processes for upgrade and migration;
- Improving the return on existing investments and reducing the risk for future investments;
- Reducing the complexity in IT infrastructure;
- Higher return on investment in information technologies:
- Improved flexibility in making decisions about internal development, acquisition or outsourcing of IT solutions;
- Reducing the risks accompanying the purchase and commissioning of new IT system;
- Improving the process of procurement for public orders- faster, simpler and cheaper;
- Ability to reuse (multiple use) of processes, components and ideas throughout the organization;
Currently there are about ten freely available frameworks for Enterprise Architecture. The most common and fastest growing ones can be applied in all industries (TOGAF, Zachman, IAF). Others are specialized in certain areas, such as DODAF developed for the US Ministry of Defense. Despite the many choices for EA frameworks, it is important to consider the definition of the process that will be used to build the Enterprise Architecture program, the development of measurable results and the integration of Enterprise Architecture in the process of decision making within the organization. This process is more important and more critical to the success of the Enterprise Architecture practice than the choice of a framework or application which would support it.
Considering in particular TOGAF as one of the most advanced and popular EA frameworks, it should be noted that at its base stands the well-developed and proven method for EA development-Architecture Development Method (Figure 1).
Figure 1: The Architecture Development Method according to TOGAF
After the analysis of the business strategy and objectives of the organization, based on which the priorities and vision for the future view (what) of EA are defined, it is necessary to define the architectural principles which will be used as a ground for decision making during the development phase. (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Transition to the target enterprise architecture
During the development and definition of Enterprise Architect, it is important to build models of its current and future state containing four perspectives:
- Business Architecture
- Architecture on data level
- Architecture on application level
- Technology architecture
Since the development of the target architecture in many cases is quite a complex task, especially when the time horizon is wider, it is possible to develop one or more intermediate states of EA.
Based on the analysis of the differences between the current and target state, a portfolio of the projects necessary for the company transformation can be created. All current or future projects should be considered in this context. This would lead to a more efficient management of company resources and could impede the implementation of duplicate functions and processes.
There is a widespread understanding that Enterprise Architecture represents a single general view containing all relationships between the business and technical components. One detailed view in most cases would be extremely complex to perceive and communicate. Therefore, similar to civil architecture, TOGAF methodology for developing Enterprise Architecture includes the definition of architectural views. They represent the overall architecture in practical form suitable for use for all stakeholders with a particular area of interest (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Definition of architectural views according to TOGAF methodology
Despite the undoubted benefits of developing good Enterprise Architecture, it is important to consider the key factors for success of such an initiative - the maturity of the company and the availability of skilled staff during and after its initial development. Here is the time to note that the completion of the Enterprise Architecture is not a single act - its management and maintenance is an ongoing process, especially when it is established as an instrument for making strategic decisions.
Svetoslav Pacev, ICT Consultant, Bright Consulting
TOGAF 9 Certified, ITIL Certified