This trend is confirmed by a Gartner survey that finds, “77% of respondents were either restarting or renewing EA efforts (18 percent), initiative EA for the first time (34 percent) or taking EA efforts to the next level (25 percent).” Enterprise Architecture practices are delivering business value, which is great news, but there are proactive steps you can take to accelerate and elevate your EA practice. If you focus on delivering tangible results back to the business, you can elevate your EA practice and increase your influence throughout your organization.
Most EA programs are stuck in this first stage where EA is seen as making a lot of noise (“don’t make any moves until I catalogue and architect everything first”). If business leaders don’t feel the positive impacts of the architecture, then enterprise architecture is just seen as extra work and unnecessary. How many times have we heard the phrase architecture for the sake of architecture? To move from this stage into stage 2, begin successfully implementing use cases to illustrate real business value. You need to have a picture of what that end-state looks like and think strategically about the future goals of the business but start with small wins. Each step forward should work towards the company’s broader vision.
When you start implementing use cases that deliver on business outcomes, you’re able to produce real value and now you can start earning trust outside of the IT department. From here you can gain traction and buy-in from business leaders and begin to transform into a business unit seen as helping the organization reach strategic goals. At this point, if you haven't already, you should start shifting your focus to supporting business operations. You will implement additional use cases, building towards that strategic plan, but always focused on business outcomes. As your use cases expand, the amount of data you use and maintain grows, and this increases your business value.
As you start building a reputation for delivering greater value, you’ll see your influence increase and you’ll become more trusted. You’ll start being a source of truth for reliable information and you’ll get requests for help with additional use cases. Once you’ve gain trust from the business, you can start shifting your focus from business operations to strategic planning and make the C-suite your key stakeholders. You should have a comprehensive view of the enterprise (maintained in your repository at this point) to support rapid impact analysis and transformation scenario simulations.
Once you’re in the influential stage, congratulations are in order, because now business leaders see you as a strategic partner. You’ll know you’ve arrived at this stage when they start consulting you before undertaking new initiatives. How’s that for elevating your EA practice? To remain in this stage and not take steps backwards, continue focusing on capabilities and the needs of the business, providing tangible business value, and driving transformation and innovation.