Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) plays a crucial role for digitalization and Industry 4.0 by helping companies act quickly, remain flexible, and make better-informed decisions. In the digital world, business and IT will continue to converge, and as a result, the overall situation will become more complex, with more elements and connections between them than ever before.
Companies are forced to rethink their business models in shorter intervals, and adapt to new business models that will only be possible with significant support from IT. But necessary changes cannot always be planned with a long-term perspective. Customer behavior is difficult to predict. Due to this increased complexity, practical tools are necessary to create transparency and think through planning alternatives regarding your opportunities, risks and implications.
Under no circumstances should your horizons lead you to believe “What I do not see does not exist and does not need to be considered.” Lean, combined with enterprise architecture, provides a 360-degree view and is a sleek instrument for planning and managing necessary and inevitable changes.
The lean concept is as simple as it is ingenious: customer value-adding processes are prioritized and waste will, wherever possible, be avoided. "Adding value without waste" is the motto. On the basis of an open performance culture, based on trust, respect, tolerance, fairness, participation and integrity, and using lean principles and techniques, business processes are continuously and sustainably developed. This is especially true in IT management and enterprise architecture management.
Lean EAM is ultimately a cost-optimized way to rise to a challenge, but without renouncing the necessary panoramic view. Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) is worthwhile if the sum of the personal benefits clearly exceeds the costs required for this. We call this target state "Lean EAM". Only a cost-optimized EAM application will be successful enough to fly.
Reaching this goal is not very easy. Five key factors for success are:
- Lean principle of customer value orientation: Create individual benefits for the stakeholders regarding their daily work as it relates to helping them achieve their personal goals, e.g. accurately provide your enterprise architects with a view of the cost of the solution scenarios, delivering the information necessary for a decision. Conversely, everything that doesn’t add real business value is considered as “waste” and shouldn’t be delivered.
- Benefit by use: At first this sounds banal - but it is not. Unfortunately, in many companies, you can often find people responsible for data collection activities who have no interest in the results of their own work. There are different reasons for this: It may be that in the past, specific data was collected for a specific project or initiative. Now that the project is completed, that specific data collection provides no value to the business. Or, sometimes there is a lack of focus on the essentials, which can lead to “data collection for the sake of data collection”. Only through legitimate and consistent use in their daily work, or to achieve a specific project objective, do users realize a personal benefit. We believe all data gathered under EAM should be able to be measured against three axes: strategy implementation, costs and risks. This is simple, but not too simple. It is especially important in the context of large initiatives that will significantly transform the company.
- To create balance, focus on the essentials: Omit everything that is not effective and has an insufficient cost-benefit ratio. This refers to the substance structures, processes and organization. We know the cost-benefit analysis is certainly not easy. A thorough analysis is the key to success. There is no compromise.
- Access to a high quality and up-to-date EA repository: The results of EAM will provide value in the long run, but only if the quality and legitimacy of the repository addresses the company’s needs. The data suppliers are generally specific people in the company, such as business analysts or solution architects. They are often under pressure to meet deadlines and therefore have neither the time nor the inclination to put in extra effort for no apparent benefit. Only through "recognized" benefits, making it as easy as possible, and the presence of "gentle pressure" from IT management and corporate governance, will the support of all required contributors and stakeholders be maintained. See the book, " EAM – einfach und effektiv," for best practices in this area.
- Eradicate focus on problem-solving: Bottlenecks or errors, such as insufficient quality of data for the creation of an executive report, are to be fixed as a priority. Bottlenecks and failures significantly discourage the acceptance of EAM and the expected benefits cannot be realized. Those bottlenecks and errors can be resolved in different ways. On one hand, the data quality could be effectively enhanced with appropriate care and quality assurance processes. On the other hand, the decision template or the report could be amended to the extent that it is based only on high data quality. Here’s an example of HOPEX, where the validation can be easily performed by automated tools, and the data quality improved significantly.
- Gradual, benefit-oriented expansion of EAM: The introduction and establishment of enterprise architecture management can only be done in small, manageable steps with visible, quick wins. Only if the benefits are recognized will there be strong arguments for investing in the expansion of Lean EAM initiatives. Continuous improvement must involve daily action and awareness (think of it as "Lean Thinking"). Thus, errors can be addressed, results are optimized, and benefits are increased.
How lean is your EAM? What would it take to get from where you are now to a lean state that could deliver more value? MEGA is hosting a webinar in German titled "Erfolgreiche Digitale Transformation mit Lean EAM und 360 Grad Perspektive". Come join us to learn more about creating a 360° view for your business through lean EAM.
This blogpost is co-written with Inge Hanschke - Inge is CEO of Lean42 and a well-known author of relevant publications about EAM, BPM, Business Analysis and Lean IT Management. She leverages her experience of 28 years of professional career as IT manager of several organizations in different industries.