Enterprise architecture is not just about building a business and IT knowledgebase. It’s more and more about short and long-term wins, where enterprise architects participate in the selection of strategic priorities and about contributing specific knowledge valuable to the agile delivery solution teams afterward.

Short term wins

Traditionally, enterprise architects focused mostly on information technology architecture (applications/systems, data and infrastructure). To provide a greater impact to their organization, they are now focusing more on business architecture.

Getting going with your business architecture practice on the right foot is tricky. This is why Whynde Khuen[1] suggests getting some business architect quick successes in a win-win situation and build momentum from there. Enterprise architects should start building their business architecture with just a minimum baseline. From one success to the next, enterprise architects should shape out the rest of their organization’s knowledgebase opportunistically and keep maintaining it in a business and enterprise architecture collaborative software tool for reuse and sharing going forward.

Getting started with quicks wins requires ideally these 3 conditions:

  • Having a sponsor, who knows and trusts you and that is open to new ideas. Avoid a sponsor that tends to focus on status quo, short-term thinking, a siloed scope and/or solution-thinking versus business-first.
  • Minimal amount of business architecture content required, with only a few value streams and enabling capabilities initially. Avoid beginning with an enterprise-wide transformation initially. This requires a lot of time and a solid set of business-attested capability map and value streams as well as knowledge from various additional domains and cross-mappings to other domains such as system applications.
  • Start small, by choosing an opportunity that can be accomplished quickly, and that yet is impactful enough to demonstrate the value of business architecture.

Optimal Programme and Portfolio Initiative Selection

Once you’ve demonstrated the worth of business architecture with one or several short win(s), it will be easier to convince your organization that business architecture can be used to optimize the allocation of your enterprise resources for programme and portfolio initiatives.

Too often, programme managers and portfolio managers waste a lot of valuable resources on initiatives that are of very little strategic importance. Business architecture allows to prioritize initiatives according to the strategies of their organization and forget those that do not matter, as I’ve shown in an article entitled “How to set your priorities using architecture”.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, there are at least six business and enterprise architecture methods that should help you answer which one of your numerous potential initiatives should be delivered first. They are:

  • Value stream to enabling capabilities cross-mapping,
  • Capability to organization cross-mapping,
  • Capability to applications cross-mapping,
  • Information concepts to data models cross-mapping,
  • Value stages to participating stakeholders cross-mapping, and
  • Various capability measurement techniques.

Optimal Agile Solutions Delivery

Finally, as I’ve written in an article entitled “7 compelling qualities of business and enterprise architects”: “Business and enterprise architects’ job does not stop at producing roadmaps and assisting corporate management in the selection of an optimal scenario. Digital transformation projects often fail short of their objectives and drag far too long because the coordination and architectural bridges between business and IT stakeholders are non-existent. This is why good architects will always make sure to make their detailed architecture model available to those involved with the delivery of tactical projects or strategic initiatives.”

Detailed elements from the enterprise architecture model that includes business architecture can be extremely useful in building requirements, epics and user stories commonly used in agile solution delivery. Instead of starting with a blank page, business analysts can now write a first draft of a user story using detailed business architecture elements defined in the enterprise architects’ framework.

Just by making sure to be part of a team that delivers agile solutions, enterprise architects can demonstrate long-term wins and calculate positive ROI, as I’ve demonstrated in this article entitled “What’s the ROI on Your Business Architecture Practice?”. Basically, the cost of an entire enterprise architecture practice can be paid back and a lot more if enterprise architects start sharing their work and framework to the agile experts, business analysts, software architects and developers that need to deliver meaningful business solutions to their organization. This way, a lot less time is wasted with subject matter experts assisting business analysts in writing the necessary requirements, epics and user stories. Instead, the first draft of a user story is made up of precise elements pulled from the organization’s business architecture model of key strategic initiatives, value streams, capabilities, stakeholders, applications, and information/data, among others.

As they incorporate business architecture into their practice, enterprise architects are becoming essential contributors to the success of their organization. To be accepted, they may first need to find short-term wins. After a while, enterprise architects can also demonstrate their worth by showing how to select strategic priority initiatives over others. Finally, enterprise architects can achieve their full-scale potential once they start participating in the planning of delivery of agile solutions.

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[1] Here is Whynde Kuehn's LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/whynde-kuehn-21b3993/