Experience has shown that there no one right structure, purpose or design for an EA Team. Organizations have focused their EA on strategy or portfolio or project or a combination of these. Best practice EA teams enable organizational change leaders, particular transformation efforts, focused on broad continuous improvement initiatives. For many the default position is all about IT & embedded with an IT organization.
There is no single correct scope, level of detail, or purpose for an EA. Anyone who tells you so should also provide the toner & paper for your resume – you will need it up-to-date. Thoughtlessly following a pre-packaged purpose is no different than recommending a fast-food chain start making Chateaubriand because Chateaubriand is tasty.
An architected approach can typically enable four broad goals:
- EA to support Strategy: provide an end-to-end target architecture, and develop roadmaps of change over longer time periods. In this context, architecture is used to identify change initiatives and supporting portfolio and programs.
- EA to support Portfolio: Deliver EA to support cross-functional, multi-phase, and multi-project change initiatives. In this context, architecture is used to identify projects, set their terms of reference, align their approaches, identify synergies, and govern their execution.
- EA to support Project: Deliver EA to support the Enterprise’s project delivery method to assure compliance with architectural governance, and to support the integration and alignment between projects.
- EA to support Solution Deployment: Deliver EA that is used to support solution deployment by defining how the change will be designed and delivered, and finally, act as a governance framework for change
An EA team aligned to purpose is focused. Focus allows getting to done and after a missed purpose failing to get to done is the largest killer of EA teams.
Most importantly, focus enables excellence. EA Leaders understand the skills required, the information to be gathered, the analysis performed and who their stakeholders are. They also know when to communicate; when the decision is taken, when the actions are needed. Following the analogy, cook the Chateaubriand for dinner.
Today most EA teams are in trouble. They are off target; they are late; they are not helpful. If you work for one of these teams or lead one of these teams, ask the hard question: What am I set-up to support and what does my organization want to be helped. Then take action.
There is plenty of self-help guidance available, with the Open Group we published a Leader’s Guide, or explore Conexiam’s EA Capability Reference Model. We also offer a fast-track service Predictable EA: Establishing an EA Team.
In the end: deliver what is needed, when it is required, to the stakeholder who needs it. Be warned, once you start to be consistently useful, you don’t get to stop being useful. The improvement needs of your organization are infinite.