Enterprise architects have sometimes been described as being disconnected from reality. They find it difficult to demonstrate the business value that results from enterprise architecture.
To be aligned with the evolution of the business, they should:
make strategic recommendations,
assess business opportunities related to emerging technologies, and
evaluate the impact of business change on IT systems, considering whether/how to adjust the IT ecosystem.
In their new role as an internal management consultant, enterprise architects will clearly show the value generated by the connections between people, processes, applications, and infrastructure.
As internal consultants, the new role of enterprise architects is to:
Bring the strategic vision to organizations that often work in silos and lack an overarching view.
Engage with the business to refine its needs, showing how a business capability should evolve in the next three years, or whether the company can address new customer segments.
Contribute to an improved IT roadmap that efficiently and proactively supports business needs and better plans future IT investments.
Enterprise architects as one of an organization’s most influential leaders
In the past, enterprise architecture (EA) was often seen as an intrusive cost center that builds “architecture for the sake of architecture,” delivering nothing more than noise throughout the organization.
Today, enterprise architects lead critical change initiatives by leveraging company assets and exploring new business opportunities, such as those delivered by emerging technologies.
Here are the steps that an enterprise architect can take to accelerate and elevate the value they bring to their organization and becoming influential by playing the role of true internal consultants:
Initial - When starting an initiative, Enterprise Architecture has not perceived value and requires extra effort to implement it.
Useful - In the next step, EA is perceived as useful and has started to produce value for some stakeholders.
Trusted – Then, enterprise architecture is trusted and has a reputation for delivering value.
Influential - In the final step, it has become truly influential and is perceived as an internal consultancy by business leaders.
But there is a way to move from “Initial” to “Influential”.
Step 1: From Initial to Useful. To start gaining influence in their organization, enterprise architects can start building an enterprise architecture baseline that consists of creating an inventory of applications and technology, set up some dashboards, and start socializing their initiative through an enterprise portal.
At this stage, it is important to show quick results by automating the inventory and focusing on the portal.
Step 2: From Useful to Trusted. Enterprise architects can leverage this new confidence as a catalyst to bigger projects that have more visibility throughout the organization and therefore expand the audience that recognizes the value of enterprise architecture. At this stage, they can implement additional use cases focused on business outcomes and establish a Center of Excellence that strengthens the discipline.
Step 3: From Trusted to Influential. Once enterprise architects are viewed as trusted, they’ll be seen as a source of truth for reliable information and the business will start asking for their help. As true experts and internal consultants, the C-suite will soon become their key stakeholders.
To foster innovation, they should establish a governance process and have a comprehensive view of the enterprise. This supports “what if” scenario decision making that drives transformation.
To remain in this stage, enterprise architects can continue focusing on new business-related or Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) use cases, providing tangible business value, and driving transformation and innovation.
Gartner tips to position EA as an Internal Management Consultancy
Through a complimentary approach, Gartner identifies five steps to demonstrate EA’s value to business leaders:
Step 1: Position Enterprise Architecture as an internal management consultancy by defining consulting services that better fit business strategies, innovation and operationalization.
Step 2: Utilize value-based selling to promote enterprise architecture inside the organization.
Step 3: Conduct diligence to build relationships by interacting with business leaders and understanding how the EA practice can help them make smarter investment decisions to build the value proposition.
Step 4: Construct a value proposition document that is specifically tailored to the organization
Step 5: Pitch the Enterprise Architecture value proposition by first practicing and soliciting feedback and identifying the right person to deliver the value proposition.