What is an Enterprise Architecture Review Board?

There are many misconceptions about effective enterprise architecture review boards. It is a governing body that ensures the right stakeholders make informed decisions. The architecture review board ensures we follow best practices to develop an enterprise architecture, and when executing projects following that architecture. A governing body, not a decision-making body.

What is an Enterprise Architecture Review Board?

Enterprise Architecture often involves complex systems with an array of moving parts and various stakeholders.

A crystal clear roadmap can help you reach your goals, enable enterprise agility, launch new products, speed your digital transformation. Without a governing body that’s dedicated to taking ownership of all the processes involved, it’s pretty tough to keep all of your enterprise operations aligned across your company or organization.

So, What Is an Enterprise Architecture Review Board, Exactly?

There are many misconceptions about effective enterprise architecture review boards. It is a governing body that ensures the best practices to develop an architecture were followed and the stakeholders approved the target. It also ensures that best practices to review change projects were followed and the same stakeholders made choices when the architecture wasn't followed. A governing body, not a decision-making body.

The common error is to assume the architecture review board makes decisions. In this error, people look for key stakeholders across an enterprise. The mistakingly assume it will ensure initiatives are in sync with the enterprise’s overarching objectives and strategies. Or, that the board will focus on maintaining compliance with development standards and industry-best practices. While a successful

We consider enterprise architectural review board a high-level governance strategy that puts more emphasis on the “big picture” of systems, processes, and development.

Governance is often confused with management and decision cycles. It is about direction & control – what direction does a leader provide and what are the controls that ensure the direction is followed.

Why Have an Architecture Review Board?

Establishing an enterprise architecture review board and an architecture review board charter comes with a host of advantages and benefits to your organization. Here are a few of the big ones:

Better Decision-making

Having an architecture review board means improved decision-making on virtually every level of your organization. By adhering to clear standards, protocols and guidelines, and evaluating enterprise architecture in a holistic manner, a review board makes sure that the decisions they make are well-informed, strategic, and transparent.

Having a clear-cut decision-making process benefits everyone in your organization by helping them understand what decisions are being made and why they’re being made. This process helps maintain organizational focus across all pillars and departments.

Incorporate your architecture diagram at each step of the way, rather than relying on mind-numbing sheets of data so you can communicate the architecture more easily across your teams.

Improved Investment Strategies and Budget Management

Architectures can be complex and difficult for teams to have a clear image of how others are using the systems and processes. Hazy scope oversight and confusion often lead to various misalignments, redundancies, and miscommunication, which ultimately results in a lot of unnecessary capital lost because of these inefficiencies.

Architecture review boards take care of these issues by creating standardized processes and overseeing the “big picture.” By having a keen understanding of the architecture, review boards then manage and make well-informed decisions that will ultimately save time, money and resources.

Simplified Processes

There are a lot of moving parts involved with enterprise architecture, and one of the biggest hurdles is wrapping your head around everything. By having an architecture review board, you’re letting the board compartmentalize a lot of these moving parts, and organizing them into manageable, easily digestible bits of information that can be understood without reading the fine print in a long, dry document.

This works even better when departments and teams map out their architecture development process. This allows the review board even better visibility of the solutions and systems, so they can update their standardized processes easily.

Improved Risk Management

An architecture review board typically reviews all proposed initiatives and large-scale projects. This allows them to evaluate plans and see how they stack up and align with the organization’s guiding set of principles, and contextualize the initiatives within the larger architectural vision.

Since they have the big-picture interests in their main objective list, they can see potential pitfalls, risks, and obstacles to that solution, and put processes in places or make various recommendations how to mitigate those issues.

Stronger Security Compliance

It’s probably no surprise to you that security compliance is one of the top concerns for enterprises. It’s the responsive of the review boards to map the architecture, clarifying best practices and policies, and identify gaps in those policies’ implementation, so that all the solutions align each other and are in sync.

We use the SABSA Risk Model, SABSA Business Attributes, and the SABSA Domain Model to support security compliance and security architecture governance. Our SABSA Domain Model webinar shows you how to improve architecture governance with best practices for an enterprise architecture review board.

Enterprise Architecture Review Board Structuring

The go-to guide for structuring your architecture review board is the industry standard enterprise architecture framework, TOGAF®. The Open Group made the TOGAF Framework up of essential scaffolding and guides that bring it to like. The TOGAF Library's Enterprise Architecture Governance Guide This is essentially a high-level method guide for designing, planning, implementing, and governing enterprise architectures.

Review boards are a vital part of the governing process within TOGAF. As you develop your enterprise architecture team, you should develop your enterprise architecture review board. Start with the best-practices already outlined for you in the TOGAF Standard's Enterprise Architecture Governance Guide. This will help you in your approach.

Of course, how your architecture review board is structured should be based on the needs of your organization.

Pay close attention to your organization’s size and current processes. For example, you might need to create two separate governing bodies that are unique to both global and local governance.

Typically, the optimum size of an enterprise architecture review board is about 4-5 members. Never to exceed 10. We should make the board up of people with sufficient judgement to assess the target architecture and compliance assessments following the enterprise architecture governance checklists. Look for a nice range of diversity in mindset, background, and experience. They will need to understand who has decision-making authority and be able to assess whether the decision makers understand risk, benefit and change. We often use the SABSA Domain Framework to test the quality of representation.

Enterprise Architecture Governance Checklist

The architecture review board holds a wide range of governance responsibilities. Below is a checklist for you to implement so you can make sure you’re on target.

Target Enterprise Architecture Governance Checklist

  1. Were the correct stakeholders identified? Yes/No
    o If yes, proceed
    o If not, send direct the architect to engage with the stakeholders appropriate to the architecture being developed
  2. Were constraints and guidance from superior architecture considered? Yes/No
    o If yes, proceed
    o If not, either exercise Architecture Governance change, relief and enforcement, or direct the architect to consider guidance and constraints from superior architecture
  3. Do subject matter experts agree with the facts and interpretation of the facts in the architecture? Yes/No
    o If yes, proceed
    o If not, either direct the architect to engage with the subject matter experts or develop a recommendation for the Stakeholders that they should have limitations in confidence
  4. Do any constraints or guidance produced reflect the Views produced for stakeholders and any underpinning architecture models and analysis? Yes/No
    o If yes, proceed
    o If not, direct the architect to do their job
  5. Do the Views produced for the Stakeholders reflect their Concerns and reflect any underpinning architecture models and analysis? Yes/No
    o If yes, proceed to the Stakeholders for approval
    o If not, direct the architect to develop Views
  6. Do the Stakeholders understand the Value, and any uncertainty in achieving the Value, provided by reaching the target state? Yes/No
    o If yes, proceed
    o If not, direct the architect to develop Views and return to the Stakeholders
  7. Do the Stakeholders understand the work necessary to reach the target state and any uncertainty in successfully accomplishing the work? Yes/No
    o If yes, proceed
    o If not, direct the architect to develop Views and return to the Stakeholders
  8. Do the Stakeholders understand any limitations in confidence they should have in the target architecture? Yes/No
    o If yes, proceed
    o If not, direct the architect to develop Views and return to the Stakeholders
  9. Has the Stakeholders approved the Views? Yes/No
    o If yes, publish the enterprise architecture in the enterprise architecture repository as approved target architecture.
    o If not, the Enterprise Architecture Board should decide either to direct the architect to re-work the architecture or cancel the architecture initiative

In Closing...

An enterprise architecture outlines the path to improve an organization to overcome shortfalls in its execution. With an architecture review board, companies that are insufficiently agile, or need to expand to a new market, or are making a digital transformation process – all benefit from governance throughout the processes.

At Conexiam, we’re a boutique shop with experience in multiple industry verticals across the US, Canada, Africa and the Middle East. Conexiam has established a sound practice of developing architecture predictably.

Understanding the purpose of the architecture engagement, and what information they require, allows Conexiam to tailor the architecture deliverables. Conexiam has developed a Predictable EA approach using fixed periods of time with known deliverables and work product.

Do it Yourself Guidance on an Enterprise Architecture Review Board

Best practice guidance on establishing an Enterprise Architecture Review Board

Top-to-bottom guidance for building an effective enterprise architecture team

Free 12-week Enterprise Architecture Training. Help the Architecture Review Board.

Learn to improve your architecture review board's use of stakeholders and risk with the SABSA domain model

Examples of Successful Enterprise Architecture Review Boards

Successful Enterprise Architecture Review Boards have better Enterprise Architecture!

Organizations with better enterprise architecture are more effective with change. More effective in reaching their objectives. They are more effective.

Have a look at our case studies.

Scroll to Top