IT modernization projects often use an incremental approach that consists of redesigning IT assets step by step, so eventually the whole system is updated. Modernizing IT systems incrementally has proven to be beneficial, especially to mitigate the operational risks if everything was done all at once. The downside of this approach is that development teams work in silos and don’t have a big picture. On the other hand, enterprise architecture connects all the enterprise layers, from business to IT infrastructure, so that IT leaders can prioritize modernization projects based on business objectives and view the impact of these projects on their IT systems. A typical methodology using enterprise architecture will consist of a three-step approach:
The first step consists of getting a clear understanding of business objectives. Enterprise architects engage with business teams to map current business capabilities and understand how they can change. This will provide a better view on how a capability should evolve in the coming years, or if the capability addresses a new customer segment.
Enterprise architects can capture current and future business needs using an enterprise roadmap, by positioning transformation objectives, business capabilities, and required IT functionalities in a timetable. This will help define the future IT architecture that will fully support planned business capabilities.
As a second step, enterprise architects define the future IT architecture, ensuring that it fully supports the planned business capabilities.
As a starting point, enterprise architects map the current IT environment. This involves taking an inventory of applications and technologies used in the organization. Application inventory can be performed under multiple perspectives, including application lifecycles, costs, deployments, exchange flows, and how they support the business. After completing the application inventory, enterprise architects can develop new IT architecture based on the business capabilities that have been identified. Business capability maps help show what IT resources are required to support business operations as the company evolves to meet new challenges.
Once the target IT architecture has been determined, including applications and technologies, individual pieces or segments of the IT environment can be modernized to support the new business capabilities through IT modernization projects.
The third step of the process is to initiate and manage IT projects necessary to achieve the completion of the defined target IT architecture. Each project includes a justification or a business case that explains why the project should be undertaken, its costs, resources, as well as a timeline and possible associated risks.
To prioritize these projects, companies can set up an executive committee that includes not only IT leaders, but business leaders as well. By gathering both types of leaders, projects are prioritized based on each stakeholder’s objectives.
Once projects have been prioritized, they can be put in a timetable, forming the IT roadmap. For an efficient IT roadmap, the roadmap should include a statement on strategic business priorities, a timeline of projects, a business case, the estimated cost, and the duration of each project.
With a clear IT roadmap, IT leaders have a comprehensive view of future IT modernization projects and can plan resources as well as budget accordingly.
Digital transformation has created the need to modernize IT at a faster pace and enterprise architecture is a key enabler to align IT to the business. It ensures that business and IT roadmaps converge thanks to an optimized prioritization of IT modernization projects based on business objectives. IT systems will be modernized more efficiently and consistently while better supporting business strategy and objectives. To learn more about modernizing IT with enterprise architecture, download our white paper “Business and IT alignment alignment in the digital era”.