Enterprise Architecture Use Cases

All enterprise architecture use cases are about change. They all look at types of change, and how an enterprise architect helps decision makers chart a path forward.

I consider the enterprise architecture use cases as the type of change, purpose of the enterprise architecture team, or questions commonly asked.

EA Use Cases - Type of Change
Enterprise Architecture Use Cases

An enterprise is going to change in one of two ways, disruptively or incrementally.

Disruptive change will be deliberate or reactive. Either the enterprise will embark on a deliberate strategic initiative or it will react to a threat or opportunity in its ecosystem. When we do a deliberate disruptive change, we'll usually call it Strategic.

Incremental change is far more common. Hundreds, if not thousands, of times more common. The reason is simple, our organizations need to perform minor course corrections constantly.

EA Use Case - Strategic Change

Apart from words that make us feel better, all disruptive change means we are changing course. Making significant lasting change. We will change a course for internal reasons or in reaction to external forces.

In short, a strategic change alters how an organization intendeds to engage its environment. The symbiosis of the organization and its environment forces the conversations about the environment.

Are we reacting to an emerging opportunity or threat in our environment? In this case, the enterprise architects are trying to help seize an opportunity or dodge a threat. The ability to perform disruptive change depends on your enterprise agility.

We lean heavily on Hambrick's Strategy diamond to test the strategy. Answers for the five questions ensure the disruptive change has not skipped essentials.

All strategic change alters an organization's engagement with its environment.  When an organization is undertaking a Digital Transformation Lever 7 - Ecosystem and Business Model includes altering the environment.

We recommend the Seven Levers of Digital Transformation for a concise understanding of disruptive digital change.

We use the Navigate Atlas to Support Strategy for this enterprise architecture use case.

EA Use Case - Incremental Change

Incremental change is the most common enterprise architecture use case. It is a natural sweet spot for an Enterprise architecture team. Taking a problem space an optimizing change. Breaking it down to provide change projects terms of reference and clarity of value delivery.

In short, incremental change takes a strategic priority and ensures that change is optimized.

Most commonly incremental change will improve one of:

  1. an organization's cost
  2. quality of products or services
  3. improve enterprise agility

Most of the time we will use Navigate Atlas to Support Portfolio for this enterprise architecture use case.

Improve cost

Organizations have been seeking to improve their cost position as long as we have had commercial organizations. The Deloitte Value Map provides a simple analytic frame to explore cutting cost.

Improve Quality

There are many non-architectural techniques aimed at improving quality, most notably Six Sigma. Today engaing enterprise architects to improve quality will mean a Digital Transformation.

The Seven Levers of Digital Transformation provides a framework for quality - are you speaking about:

  • the quality of business process (Lever 1),
  • the quality of customer engagement (Lever 2),
  • the quality of products (Lever 3),
  • the quality if IT & Delivery (Lever 4), or
  • the quality impact of your organizational culture (lever 5)

Improve Enterprise Agility

The characteristics of enterprise agility are drawn from sports and the OODA-loop. The activities of responding to an unexpected threat or opportunity come down to your ability to observer change, decide what to do, and complete your response. All successful sport players work to close these cycles.

We call the 5th attribute of enterprise agility flexibility because of the sports roots. Athletes practice and work on flexibility. Your organization should do the same. Reduce the barriers to observing a threat or opportunity, gathering information, choosing a response, and completing the necessary actions.

All of the best organizations we have worked with consciously work on continuous improvement.

Characteristics of Enterprise Agility

Alertness: can you detect opportunities and threats?
Accessibility: can you access relevant information in time to respond?
Decisiveness: can you make decisions using the available information?
Swiftness: can you implement your decisions in time available?
Flexibility: what are you doing to reduce the barriers to action? Think of your stretching exercises

EA Use Case - EA Team Purpose

Enteprise Architecture Purpose The second set of enterprise architecture use cases come from the purpose of your EA team.

High-functioning EA teams will be optimized to deliver architecture to support strategy, portfolio, project or solution.

These purposes are explained in the EA Team Leader's Guide and the Enterprise Architect Practitioner's Guide.

EA Use Case - Enterprise Architecture to support Strategy

EA Teams that support strategy will deliver an end-to-end Target Architecture looking out three to ten-years, Their architecture roadmaps will typically span many change programs.

Enterprise architecture to support strategy is used to identify change initiatives and supporting portfolio and programs. Sets terms of reference, identify synergies, and govern the execution of strategy via portfolio and programs.

EA Use Case - Enterprise Architecture to support Portfolio

Enterprise architects that support portfolio assist cross-functional, multi-phase, and multi-project change initiatives. Their deliverables will usually cover a single portfolio.

EA to support portfolio will identify projects, and set their terms of reference, align their approaches, identify synergies, and govern their execution of projects.

EA Use Case - Enterprise Architecture to support Project

EA Teams that support project are directly assisting their organization's project delivery method. They will usually work on a single project.

Enterprise architecture to support project will clarify the purpose and value of the project.  It will highlight cross-project synergy and future dependency. A critical use is enabling architectural governance, and support alignment between projects.

EA Use Case - Enterprise Architecture to support Solution Delivery

Enterprise architects working to support solution delivery  usually are focused on a single project or a significant part of it. Their architecture defines how the change will be designed and delivered. It ensures understanding of constraints, controls and architecture requirements. It directly acts as the architecture governance framework for change.

Enterprise Architect's Guide

Download the Enterprise Architect's Guide a TOGAF Series Guide on developing useful enterprise architecture.

Enterprise Architecture Common Problem Use Cases

EA Team Organizational Placements We can find all the work we do delivering enterprise architecture inside the types of change and  purpose of the enterprise architecture team. However we continually come-against a common set of problem-based use cases.

Most of these enterprise architecture use cases are IT-oriented. They address EA questions with an IT-slant. In an organization undergoing Digital Transformation

Mitigating Technology Risk

Technology debt. Many organizations pile up technology debt. When organizations face real cash-based debt they do two things, address the source of the debt or declare bankruptcy.

Technology Risk is risk, pure an simple. Risk is the effective of uncertainty on meeting objectives. Technology that creates risk of meeting objectives need to be dealt with.

When we face Mitigating Technology Risk, we use the Navigate SABSA Atlas and the Navigate Program & Portfolio Management Atlas. We pull SABSA's Risk Domains out and look at the technology in terms of Portfolio.

In all cases you ware looking for a clear, actionable roadmap for driving these results.

IT Modernization

Information Technology acts like other infrastructure - it ages. As it ages it increasingly fails to meet current hopes and dreams. We like to think about IT-infrastructure as infrastructure that doesn't physically wear out. Other infrastructure suffers wear and tear - a truck puts on miles. Wind, rain, salt, rust, share-rattle and roll. It wears out.

By contrast IT-infrastructure keeps working. Think about an old Model-T. Starts, runs, leaks oil just like when it was new. However it can't carry 50,000 lbs at 65 MPH like a modern semi-trailer truck.

Modernizing It is often like a fleet replacement - everything is connected. We love the theory, cutting out or moving away from resource-intensive applications. Find replacements for those with a high cost of ownership. Then you hit the reality of the old application processing a third of revenue, with the business focused on new services for new revenue.

Good enterprise architecture teams help with a get a clear view of your IT investments, their current value and provide pragmatic advice about where to invest.

Digital Transformation or Cloud Transformation

Far too often we see people talking about Digital Transformation and Cloud Transformation as an infrastructure switch. What nonsense.

Seven Levers - Impact of skipped Levers There are  Seven Levers of Digital Transformation. You can control all Seven Levers or you can try to change without control of your trajectory, speed, or ...

Every Lever has an negative impact of you do not have it under control.

  • Lever 1 - Business Process Transformation
  • Lever 2 - Customer Engagement and Experience
  • Lever 3 - Product or Service Digitization
  • Lever 4 - IT and Delivery Transformation
  • Lever 5 - Organizational Culture
  • Lever 6 - Strategy
  • Lever 7 - Ecosystem and Business Model

I always think about a music mixing board. Leave a switch in the wrong position and you have too much treble, or miss the solo.

Application Portfolio Rationalization

Application Rationalization can be done well, or poorly, When done well IT expenditures can be reduced by more than 20%. When done poorly, there is no saving. Ever.

Application rationalization is driven by business impact and business value - not IT cost. You need to groom your IT portfolio according to technical profile and business value. Invest in those with a future-ready technical profile and business value,Explore the best ways to retire or replace those holding you back.

Navigate's basic structure of assess business capability by those that are differentiating, and those that are best-practice operations drives everything. We cover this business architecture foundation in our on-demand course EA with TOGAF and Navigate.

Acquisition Integration

Business architecture is the foundation of effective integration of acquisition. Without knowing why your company made the acquisition the default approach is to change the acquisition. You integrate acquisitions in accordance with the strategy & the purpose of the acquisition.

An acquisition will be done for a few simple reasons

  • acquiring customers
  • acquiring products
  • acquiring physical assets
  • acquiring capability

Those simple reasons tell you what value needs to be protected. Navigate's Governance, Risk and Compliance Atlas uses Asset and Risk to clarify what needs to be protected and what threats will damage the asset.

We like the Medical oath, First do no harm. If we made an acquisition for the customer base then our integration needs to first ensure we retain the existing customers.

Acquisitions for Capability are the most difficult. Typically here the acquiring company has a gap and is looking to speed-up its capability development by using the new capability. We use this example of Capability development in our on-demand course EA with TOGAF and Navigate course.

Security Architecture

Security Architecture is cross-cutting Security Architecture is cross-cutting. It exists with every other architecture domain.

We leverage Integrating Risk and Security with TOGAF. This guide was written with the SABSA Institute brought best-practice Security Architecture and Enterprise Risk Management.

The SABSA focus on value, either through realizing a benefit or preventing a downside, is critical.

Your organization is most secure when it has certainty that it will meet its expectations. Navigate's Governance, Risk and Compliance Atlas combines Asset with Risk and Threat. We look at things of value. What threatens their value, and what creates uncertainty.

As an enterprise architect your job is to protect the asset and remove the uncertainty.

Enterprise architecture is about effective change. Enterprise architecture use cases are about different changes.

Types of change use cases

Strategic Change

Incremental Change

Enterprise architecture team purpose use cases

Supporting questions of stratgey

Supporting Portfolio development & execution

Supporting Project

Supporting Solution delivery

Enterprise Architecture Common Problem Use Cases

Mitigating Technology Risk

IT Modernization

Digital Transformation or Cloud Transformation

Application Portfolio Rationalization

Acquisition Integration

Security Architecture

In every enterprise architecture use case we are performing the same function. We assist stakeholder make better decisions and lead successful change initiatives. All that changes is the question.

Develop the capability to deliver on these enterprise architecture use cases

Download the EA Capability Reference Architecture

Develop your EA Team

Join Conexiam's Personal Enterprise Architecture Kickstart

Free 12-week program to be a better enterprise architect

Scroll to Top