7 Architecture Principles Every Enterprise Architect Should Know

Architecture Principles are the foundation of good enterprise architecture. Successful enterprise architects need to master selecting the best set of principles and how to apply them. Guideposts, guardrails, foundational rules of the road. Here are seven enterprise architecture principles you need to know.

Value of Enterprise Architecture Principles

Architecture principles are brief statements that identify your organization's enduring priorities and how to approach a problem and decision. You can use these guidelines to test potential choices and speed up good decision making.

  • Enable decision-making—set precedence during trade-off discussions and authority of tie-breaking if it must occur.
  • Align the enterprise—take subjectivity out of the equation and drive objective critical conversations that are aligned to enterprise values
  • Architecture Governance—how the enterprise ensures we surfaced the right decisions at the right time, with the right decision-makers. How to monitor the decisions and approach taken?
  • Values and Culture—provide a better understanding of the enterprise’s culture and values. Including an approach to how the enterprise reacts to change.

7 Sample  Enterprise Architecture Principles

Here are the 7 architecture principles we see used by successful EA Teams

  1. Don’t Mess With Success
    • Statement: We have a successful organization. We will use our best-in-house methods as the foundation for standardization and improvement.
  2. Focus On Excellence
    • Statement: We will focus effort on processes and capabilities that enable us to differentiate from our competitors and excel in execution. All systems and process design will align with differentiation and excellence.
  3. Why Not One?
    • Statement: We assume One. One standard process; one standard KPI; one reliable source of information; one software tool. Whomever wants variation must show the differentiation and excellence delivered justify the complexity, customization, variability and ongoing cost to operations and IT.
  4. Data is an Asset
    • Statement: All data is a concrete, valuable asset to an enterprise. It is a real, measurable resource.
      We will apply standard asset management practices to data:

      • Someone will be responsible for the asset
      • We will make the asset available for use to the maximum benefit of the company
      • We will maintain the asset and at the end of its useful life, we will dispose of it.
      • We will protect the asset from loss or damage
  5. Systems Work Where We Work
    • Statement: We performed our business in many locations—our offices, our customer’s worksite, our employees' and partners' homes, and on the road. Software and processes must work reliably, safely, and efficiently where we work.
  6. Painless User Experience
    • Statement: Our systems and processes exist to improve our operational efficiency and enable us to differentiate in our customer's eyes. Staff, partners, and customers who use our systems deserve a painless user experience. The experience needs to consume no more time or difficulty than possible.
  7. Self-Service
    • Statement: Staff, partners, and customers should be able to serve themselves. Systems and processes need to be optimized to eliminate training and administrative overhead.

How many Architecture Principles Should You Have?

You should have 10-15 architecture principles in your enterprise architecture.

With too many architecture principles, you are over-constraining your architecture. You are attempting to decide artificially early and limiting the freedom and creativity of your architects and implementers.

With too few, you are not providing sufficient guidance. Your enterprise architects and implementers have to perform extra analysis to have confidence they are aligning with your strategy, goals, and value proposition.

IT Architecture Principles

In addition to your Enterprise Architecture Principles, you can have domain specific architecture principles. These principles are high-level guidelines that constrain the development of the architecture in an domain. IT Architecture principles are specific to the IT Architecture domain, they must align to your enterprise architecture principles.

These are the principles that you should follow when designing your IT Architecture to solve the problems created by a poor IT Architecture.

  1. Simplicity
  2. Flexibility
  3. Modularity
  4. Redundancy
  5. Scalability
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