MEGA will be sponsoring the “Excellence in EA” conference in Amsterdam on 26-27 September, and one of the agenda items got me thinking about the actual core principles of EA and what it’s trying to achieve. I ended up also thinking about raw dog food and Dragons’ Den, but bear with me!
On the afternoon of the conference, there will be a panel discussion (and no MEGA aren’t represented on the panel so it’s not just a roundabout attempt to promote it!) that discusses how to overcome struggles in justifying EA investments. To those "in the know", EA has many compelling benefits. So why can it be hard to get budget approved for it?
Raw meat versus standard dog food
Put simply, the problem starts if the pitch is focused on a tool, and there’s so many analogies inside and outside of IT that could be used to bring this problem to life.
But just to pick one that springs to mind, a raw food is pitched to dog owners at a trade show. It focuses on the quality of the food, where it’s produced, and the flavours of it. Now while I love my dogs, I'm armed with the knowledge that they would pretty much eat and enjoy anything (almost literally – the only known exception I’ve found is raw garlic**). So I'm not sure that would justify it to me.
However, if the pitch was something along the lines of how great the food is for their digestive system and coat as well as providing essential XYZ vitamins and minerals, then I might start paying attention. By that point once I’m on the hook I’d then ask the questions such as where is it produced, what quality standards, etc, and be willing to pay the extra price for the dogs’ benefit and also with an eye on peripheral benefits such as potentially reducing vet bills.
Similarly, imagine if an EA tool was pitched on Dragons’ Den showing diagrams and pretty charts and asking for £100k a year in return for X% of the business. Without some amazing turnaround, I’m pretty sure it would get a resounding “I’m out” from all the Dragons. Perhaps this is the same within a company, given that many senior executives remain unconvinced about the value of EA because of experiences of it being oversold, under-delivered or any combination of the two.
EA is a tool that is best used to solve specific problems. If you try to sell it to management from a tool perspective, it’s understandably unlikely to work.
Or…. “I’m going to make you an offer….”
Implementing an EA tool is no different to implementing any other IT system – you need to know the deliverables you’re looking to fulfil, what stakeholders will consume them, and in what format they will need them in (or would benefit from them being in).
From there, the rest takes care of itself, and enables management to place realistic perspectives on what EA will deliver, find out any blind spots in what EA delivers, and most importantly of all, to be able to have the opportunity to establish business architecture-driven investment planning (the nutritional value of the dog food). That’s the point you present tooling options (the choice of which raw food to have as opposed to whether to choose raw food at all).
But don’t stop there
Once these deliverables have been achieved, the next challenge is to ensure EA becomes embedded throughout your organisation, and that it doesn’t just become “noisy”. To do this, it’s important to continuously focus on the next deliverable and working to ensure consistent value. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.
Find out more
We have a limited number of 20% discount codes for the conference in Amsterdam – please PM me if you would like information on those.
Alternatively some of the following resources might be of interest:
** so far as of 21st August 2019!