Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Where the CIO sits makes no difference to EA?

Photo titled "sit where you want".  Pretty apt for this article!
(photo credit: DorteF)
Enterprise Architecture deals with the blueprint of enterprises, so it might make sense that the blueprint function sits close to the Chief Executive Officer in the organization chart to ensure alignment between planning and execution. Is there a correlation between where the Chief Enterprise Architect sits in the organization chart and the Enterprise Architecture maturity of that enterprise?

Figure 1 shows the data from an interview of almost 20 government agencies that included questions about their EA maturity as well as the number of layers between their CEO and Chief EA.  No clear pattern can be identified from the interview data.  Some might even argue that having two to four layers between the CEO and the Chief EA is the best!

Figure 1 Relationship between Chief EA's distance to CEO and EA Maturity

In addition, my discussions with a researcher from Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests the same finding: that there has been no support in data of correlation between an organization’s Chief EA’s proximity to the CEO and its EA maturity.

Does this mean that it does not matter where the chief EA sits in organizations? In many organizations, the Chief Information Officer is the chief EA, so does that also mean that it does not matter where the CIO sits in organizations?

Through the interviews, I noticed that the organizations who reported having mature EA roughly falls into three groups. The first group is made up of organizations with very influential CIOs who reported either directly into the CEO or to a direct report of the CEO. The second group has stories of their CEO believing strongly in EA, and pushed the EA agenda top-down. The third group consists of organizations that I was not clear why they reported high maturity for their EA. It might be a lack of understanding on my part, but I also suspect some of them are still early in their EA journey and thus not yet equipped to provide an accurate assessment of their EA maturity.

Analyzing the mature organizations gives the following thought: where the chief EA sits is less important to an organization’s EA maturity than EA’s mindshare among senior managers. If the CEO believes in EA, the organization is more likely to have mature EA. If the CIO is influential and believes in EA, it is more likely that he can influence the CEO to think the same. The challenge though is that it is difficult to measure EA’s mindshare among senior managers, but this does reinforce an often-repeated EA best practice on the importance of gaining top management’s sponsorship to achieve successful EA implementation.

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