Enterprise Architecture

What is enterprise architecture? Simply put, Enterprise architecture is simplifying complexity to understand, then deliberately change. Performed through a consistent practice of simplifying the real-world. The simplifications allows us to understand the real world and understand the impact of potential change.

What is Enterprise Architecture

Most explanations of what is enterprise architecture follow one of two paths. They either speak to what we do (Gartner). Or they speak about what it is (DoDAF).

Both paths net down to enterprise architecture is about understanding the real-world. Then deliberately using your understanding to change the real-world.

What we do definition of enterprise architecture

“the process of translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communicating, and improving the key principles and models that describe the enterprise’s future state and enable its evolution”

- Gartner

What it is definition of enterprise architecture

“a set of abstractions and models that simplify and communicate complex structures, processes, rules, and constraints to improve understanding, implementation, forecasting, and resourcing”

- DODAF

Why Enterprise Architecture is Important

The reason enterprise architecture is important is simple. Good enterprise architecture helps make hard decisions. Complex decisions without clear answers. Enterprise architecture answers questions like:

  • Whether to change?
  • What to change?
  • How to change?
  • What to leave alone?
  • How to deal with failing change?

Enterprise architects develop enterprise architecture to help their stakeholders make difficult decisions. Then the enterprise architects help the stakeholders create the changes.

You use enterprise architecture when you have a wicked problem that has answers that improve competing assessment criteria. Competing criteria, like cost, speed, agility, time-to-market, security, sustainability. Designing to support one outcome is easy. Use enterprise architecture for the hard problems.

Enterprise architecture is important because it answers wicked problems.

Tests for a Wicked Problem

  • The problem is not understood until after the formulation of a solution
  • No stopping rule
  • Solutions are not right or wrong
  • Essentially novel and unique
  • Every solution is a 'one shot operation’
  • No given alternative solutions

Who uses Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise Architecture for Stakeholders

Stakeholders are the primary consumer of an enterprise architecture
Enterprise architecture governance highlights that stakeholders own all Enterprise Architecture decisions

Enterprise architecture as a deliverable is often less useful to a stakeholder than actively taking part in its development.

Stakeholders who need to make complex decisions. They have Wicked Problems, those problems without an obvious answer. Hard Problems that whose solutions shine on different criteria.

Developing an enterprise architecture helps the stakeholder explore the potential answers and select the least-worst.

Enterprise Architecture for Sponsor

Sponsors are a secondary market for an enterprise architecture. Sponsors manage enterprise resources & drive change programs.

Enterprise architecture provides a sponsor with the constraints & value of a change program. They advise the Sponsor on the plan to execute the architecture roadmap.

Enterprise Architecture for Implementers

Implementers are the last major consumer of enterprise architecture. While an implementer owns all implementation decisions, they can only make those choices within the constraints and guidelines of the enterprise architecture.

Enterprise architecture provides the Implementer with what is being built, where value is realized, and what the Implementer does not control

Why do Enterprise Architecture?

In short, enterprise architecture is understanding the real-world in a way that allows deliberate change.

You do enterprise architecture to improve your possibility of successful change.

What is Useful Enterprise Architecture

Unfortunately, you cannot look at most enterprise architects and EA Teams and see what they do. Therefore, we have the recurrent question.

Most people with the job title Enterprise Architect are not doing enterprise architecture. Most of what we call EA is not recognizable as enterprise architecture.

An enterprise architecture is a simplification of complex reality. Useful enterprise architecture has several characteristics.

  1. it explains how a deficiency in our organization exists
  2. it provides a way of assessing change against multiple criteria
  3. it directs change to improve and organization

We often refer to the enterprise architecture as the binder. By itself, an architecture is a set of documents.

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