Work IT smart, not hard. How can organisations get more business value out of information technology without driving IT harder? Discussions on achieving this goal through better alignment between business strategies and IT, and in-depth understanding of trends in information technology.
Topics: Business strategy and the role of IT, Enterprise Architecture, Information Technology trends, Cool technologies.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Building the Enterprise Architecture Habit
Habitudes, one of my favorite books talking about leadership habits and attitudes
I was at a conference last year and one presentation showcased
wonderful Enterprise Architecture (EA) work an organization did.
The organization mapped out their high level strategies, linked it to
their business functions, and identified linkages between various parts of
their organization. They had created
useful documentations for understanding the organization, and how different
parts were inter-related. Obviously the
organization invested tremendous effort in creating this information. “How do you keep this information updated?”,
an audience asked. There was a pause; seemingly
the question hit the nail on its head.
The presenter then honestly shared that keeping the architecture updated
was one of the greatest challenges his organization faced in their EA
EA documents like that in the example provide visibility into an organization. As such, they would not
be as useful when its information is outdated.
Why is it difficult for organizations to keep their enterprise
architecture documents updated?
To begin with organizations are constantly changing. Updating documentations create additional
work, and is not what many people will naturally do.
Moreover, the beneficiary of the information is often not the
information provider himself, so there are some imbalances in incentives. This
problem is further enlarged in large organizations as there are more
information. As such, without processes
to keep EA documents updated, EA documents will become less and less accurate
as time goes by. Organizations need to put into their
governance controls such that major changes in the organization are updated into EA documents in a
timely fashion. Organizations might also put in reward systems to incentivize employees to contribute information.
Another type of problem is EA consultancy projects that produce stacks
of documents and drawings that nobody use. This as a related problem, in that it is in part caused by the out-of-date nature of some EA documents. What is different in this problem is the “not
invented here” syndrome: The user of the information are
often not the ones who produced them. Likely,
it is external consultants who created those stacks of paper. Consequently, the information is not used because people do not trust it, are not familiar with it or even are not aware of its existence.
The challenge for organizations is thus cultivating a habit,
and putting in the necessary rewards and controls, to update and use EA information.