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The Fantastic Four - Super Heroic Elements to EA Success

MEGA Enterprise Architecture Fantastic four
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Organisations today are fraught with business and technological complexities that enterprise architects need to contend with.  Due to the nature of Enterprise Architecture, which spans across business units and stakeholders, an architect’s role and competences reach far and beyond the technical skills that were required in the past.  According to Gartner1, they now need a range of ‘softer’ skills including leadership and communication.  This helps reduce common project pitfalls such as: insufficient stakeholder understanding; a lack of support; and misalignment of business and IT leading all too often to the failure of an EA programme. In fact statistics have revealed that more than 66% of Enterprise Architecture initiatives fail2.

But there is hope.

This comes in the form of the Fantastic Four. The super team whose skills, when combined, can beat the clock of Dr Doom (fictional nemesis much like the perfect Enterprise Architecture solution) and enable organisations to implement projects with confidence and momentum to achieve their goals.

This super team consists of:

The Torch. The attention seeking communicator

This strong character bursts into flames on demand and is vocal: all Enterprise Architecture project should have is a great communicator. All too often communication is brushed aside, integrated into reports or covered later in training. However, as EA projects impact many areas of the business, this is essential to securing executive-team sponsorship. According to Gartner “The key is to ‘sell’ first and architect later.”

As the benefits and messages about the Enterprise Architecture project may not be clear-cut to the individual stakeholders involved, it leads to the lack of understanding and support. By developing a communications plan that tightly aligns IT initiatives with the business objectives, it will allow stakeholders involved to visualise the objectives and benefits, while keeping the project’s flame alive.

The Thing. The immovable rock and strength behind the team

This character that turns into a golem is always dependable and supportive. Every project needs that solid rock to drive complex plans through. Therefore during implementation, it is important to get staff from across IT and various business teams involved in the project details from early on. This includes everyone working on the day-to-day project work to the executive teams making decision on the direction.

Subsequently this will help build a solid foundation from which to move the project forward. Look for those advocates across the business units who will support your Enterprise Architecture project along the way as they will be your biggest allies throughout the implementation.

The Invisible Woman. The soul of the team and the voice of reason

This character has the ability to be the voice of reason, bring calm to the most turbulent situation and finding suitable outcome to issues.

During any Enterprise Architecture initiative, there will be the differences in opinions between the technical and business teams involved. To set things right, leaders need to listen to the people around them, identify potential issues that could be problematic and manage expectations.

This role, while invisible, should always be a champion; making sure people are in the right place at the right time. It is about being that voice of reason, initiating an open and honest conversations about the feasibility of achieving the elements required to make the Enterprise Architecture project a success. Overall this provides a focal point for questions resulting in a stable, healthy project and high quality outputs.

Mr Fantastic. The adaptable one, unfazed by change

This character is able to bend and mould his body into any shape he desires. Like Mr Fantastic, every EA initiative should have the scope for flexibility and adapt to changes as the project evolves.

As the nature of Enterprise Architecture is to fix something that is already in place or capture reams of information to make it more understandable, there will be many unknowns which will surface during the delivery process. So until crystal balls are available to foresee possible future outcomes, changes to projects will be inevitable. Deviating from original plans should be embraced and managed accordingly.

The key is to engage with users who are closely working with the objects, processes or information as they may pick up on problems in advance. Put some guidelines and procedures in place from the beginning and if an issue is found, raise it immediately and don’t try to fix it on your own; share concerns as they arise. Ultimately, the more rigid you are the easier you are to break, the more flexible you are the more likely you will have quality products and happy customers.

Implementing Enterprise Architecture initiatives requires a lot of thought and time. The pressures to get to the end quickly can obstruct attaining the desired end goal. However, just as the Fantastic Four defeated Dr Doom by combining their strengths and applying these at the right time and in the right measure, those involved in undertaking EA initiatives need to collaborate with the teams around the business or alternatively seek external help to provide support with project delivery if needs be to make the initiative a success.

*****

1 Gartner Identifies Ten Enterprise Architecture Pitfalls - http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/1159617
2 Jonathan Broer for Rotterdam University, commissioned by IDS Scheer, summer 2008

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Organisations today are fraught with business and technological complexities that enterprise architects need to contend with.  Due to the nature of Enterprise Architecture, which spans across business units and stakeholders, an architect’s role and competences reach far and beyond the technical skills that were required in the past.  According to Gartner1, they now need a range of ‘softer’ skills including leadership and communication.  This helps reduce common project pitfalls such as: insufficient stakeholder understanding; a lack of support; and misalignment of business and IT leading all too often to the failure of an EA programme. In fact statistics have revealed that more than 66% of Enterprise Architecture initiatives fail2.

But there is hope.

This comes in the form of the Fantastic Four. The super team whose skills, when combined, can beat the clock of Dr Doom (fictional nemesis much like the perfect Enterprise Architecture solution) and enable organisations to implement projects with confidence and momentum to achieve their goals.

This super team consists of:

The Torch. The attention seeking communicator

This strong character bursts into flames on demand and is vocal: all Enterprise Architecture project should have is a great communicator. All too often communication is brushed aside, integrated into reports or covered later in training. However, as EA projects impact many areas of the business, this is essential to securing executive-team sponsorship. According to Gartner “The key is to ‘sell’ first and architect later.”

As the benefits and messages about the Enterprise Architecture project may not be clear-cut to the individual stakeholders involved, it leads to the lack of understanding and support. By developing a communications plan that tightly aligns IT initiatives with the business objectives, it will allow stakeholders involved to visualise the objectives and benefits, while keeping the project’s flame alive.

The Thing. The immovable rock and strength behind the team

This character that turns into a golem is always dependable and supportive. Every project needs that solid rock to drive complex plans through. Therefore during implementation, it is important to get staff from across IT and various business teams involved in the project details from early on. This includes everyone working on the day-to-day project work to the executive teams making decision on the direction.

Subsequently this will help build a solid foundation from which to move the project forward. Look for those advocates across the business units who will support your Enterprise Architecture project along the way as they will be your biggest allies throughout the implementation.

The Invisible Woman. The soul of the team and the voice of reason

This character has the ability to be the voice of reason, bring calm to the most turbulent situation and finding suitable outcome to issues.

During any Enterprise Architecture initiative, there will be the differences in opinions between the technical and business teams involved. To set things right, leaders need to listen to the people around them, identify potential issues that could be problematic and manage expectations.

This role, while invisible, should always be a champion; making sure people are in the right place at the right time. It is about being that voice of reason, initiating an open and honest conversations about the feasibility of achieving the elements required to make the Enterprise Architecture project a success. Overall this provides a focal point for questions resulting in a stable, healthy project and high quality outputs.

Mr Fantastic. The adaptable one, unfazed by change

This character is able to bend and mould his body into any shape he desires. Like Mr Fantastic, every EA initiative should have the scope for flexibility and adapt to changes as the project evolves.

As the nature of Enterprise Architecture is to fix something that is already in place or capture reams of information to make it more understandable, there will be many unknowns which will surface during the delivery process. So until crystal balls are available to foresee possible future outcomes, changes to projects will be inevitable. Deviating from original plans should be embraced and managed accordingly.

The key is to engage with users who are closely working with the objects, processes or information as they may pick up on problems in advance. Put some guidelines and procedures in place from the beginning and if an issue is found, raise it immediately and don’t try to fix it on your own; share concerns as they arise. Ultimately, the more rigid you are the easier you are to break, the more flexible you are the more likely you will have quality products and happy customers.

Implementing Enterprise Architecture initiatives requires a lot of thought and time. The pressures to get to the end quickly can obstruct attaining the desired end goal. However, just as the Fantastic Four defeated Dr Doom by combining their strengths and applying these at the right time and in the right measure, those involved in undertaking EA initiatives need to collaborate with the teams around the business or alternatively seek external help to provide support with project delivery if needs be to make the initiative a success.

*****

1 Gartner Identifies Ten Enterprise Architecture Pitfalls - http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/1159617
2 Jonathan Broer for Rotterdam University, commissioned by IDS Scheer, summer 2008