After sharing the discussion on the evolution and perceived value of enterprise architecture, let’s explore what our thought leaders, President ofJV Strategic Solutions John Varricchio, KPMG Enterprise Architecture Leader Roland Woldt, and MEGA’s own Chief Strategy Officer Dan Hebda, discussed around how enterprise architecture can help align business and technology during a webinar entitled, “Modernizing the Role of Enterprise Architecture in the Age of Digital Disruption.”
How engaged are enterprise architects with the Business today?
In our webinar poll, we learned that 6% of respondents said they do not engage with the Business at all; 24% rarely; 42% occasionally; and 27% regularly. This means that 72% of respondents do not engage with the Business on a regular basis. This is no surprise given enterprise architects tend to work seperately from the Business in their own organization and thus are disconnected from on-the-ground projects. However, in this highly disruptive, agile environment, companies will benefit from a more connected enterprise architecture function to facilitate digital business transformation.
What can enterprise architecture do to help bring the Business and IT closer together?
Dan starts by saying, “One of the things to recognize is that business and IT shouldn’t be treated as two competing aspects. We’re all the same organization. We should have the same aspiration which is to achieve the outcomes defined by the strategy and have an architectural vision to clarify that and bring that together is valuable. Articulating a singular perspective on the strategies that can be viewed through the business or IT lens so that we can then flesh out more specific tactics for each group is very important.”
“I go back to my affinity for business architecture as a piece of enterprise architecture and when it comes to business IT alignment, I think that capabilities are a great way to assess and understand the general gaps in the performance of the organization whether they be business-oriented or technological in nature. Solicit ideas for example on ways of enhancing and improving them and then put that into action. If it’s IT in nature, flesh out the architecture, understand the cause and implications before major investments are made and similarly do the same if it’s Business. Architect or design a mockup of what the processes might look like and the data and technology required to support it, all in advance of the cost. So I think there’s a lot that can be done there.”
Roland agrees, “I’d like to stress what you said. There shouldn’t be two strategies. There should be just one strategy. You can only have one North Star and given the fact that everything is faster we say, ‘Okay, how do we provide technology and business services faster in a more integrated way?’ I see that going on and it doesn’t work with two separate strategies. So mind you, there are some narrow teams in all areas of the organization using Agile versus Waterfall where you have the handoffs and one thing that I really like is the one-stop shop.” Further, Roland adds, “I think three organizations: strategy, architecture and product management, should go together into one - it should be a one-stop shop, one organization that manages the transformation, the change in the organization.”
John Varricchio responds, “Alignment is an area where the Enterprise Architecture group can really step in and lean into and be the first responders to alert the organization that there is misalignment.” Roland agrees, “Enterprise Architecture should be in the KNOW and they should understand how things are wired up. They should be able to run the analysis that’s needed to make the right decisions fast and they should have the tools to be able to not only capture and analyze the thoughts and then rationalize it.”
“I worked with a client where there was a lot of internal frustration around the IT organization, but the IT organization was delivering on all of their commitments. Great project delivery, great results, but the business didn’t care,” adds John. “So it was almost like, ‘great landing, wrong airport,’ so we got the business and IT folks together and it turned out there were actually two strategies: Business strategy and IT strategy. We worked together to unify those strategies, so they had one and their alignment problem was greatly improved.”
For additional insights, please view our short videos on how to move your enterprise architecture efforts from noisy to influential.
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MEGA brought together thought leaders to discuss the evolving role of enterprise architecture in a webinar entitled, “Modernizing the Role of Enterprise Architecture in the Digital Age.” President of JV Strategic Solutions John Varricchio, KPMG Enterprise Architecture Leader Roland Woldt, and MEGA’s own Chief Strategy Officer Dan Hebda, discussed several topics. Below is brief recap of the discussion around the state of enterprise architecture today and its perceived value.
How does the company perceive the value of enterprise architecture?
In our webinar poll, 88% of respondents said they think the business views their enterprise architecture efforts as noisy (low perceived value) or useful (valued, but for too few stakeholders) . Only 12% said trusted (reputation for delivering value) and 0% said influential (business asks enterprise architecture before doing). Given these results, it appears enterprise architecture practices need help in providing greater value to their organization to become more influential in the organization.
What is the state of enterprise architecture today?
Roland likens the history of enterprise architecture to the history of Business, where businesses are not just in the business of creating/building/selling widgets, they are now part of an integrated value chain and each organization in the company plays a role. “A company needs to be able to draw alignment from its strategy through the business and then deeper through application, data, technology, people, and so forth. If you can’t draw the right conclusions through these layers, how can a company make decisions?”
Dan agrees that there is an aspect of enterprise architecture that’s rising up. It’s moving business, it’s moving strategy and not all organizations are there yet. Enterprise architecture has had a history of being known as the group that says “no,” rather it needs to become the group that is in the “know.” Many enterprise architecture practices still of course are heavily involved in IT and will likely continue to do so, but they need to incorporate business architecture strategy. The dialogue with the business needs to be one that says, “Here’s how you’ll achieve the outcome that you’re looking for,” instead of, “No, you can’t,” because of a certain standard or a certain perspective. These are some of the key areas where value is derived. It should be that the enterprise architecture practice provides services to the business that are recognized as valuable by the business and that’s a key aspect that is often forgotten.
John adds, the enterprise architecture group is in a unique position to add value to the organization. “I think it really begins at getting a seat at the table and in some cases, driving strategic planning process at their organizations.” He adds, “We had one client I worked with where we did an EA-led IT strategy and we got the Business and IT folks to agree on common language around business capabilities, identifying what business capability you want to prioritize, which ones do you want to ignore for now, and which ones you’ll say, ‘Okay, let’s get to those later,’ and that provided a foundation to enable and accelerate overall business and IT strategic planning processes in just about three weeks, which I think breaks the land speed record for creating strategy, and it was all based on business capability, is architecture-led, and I think it’s a good example of how organizations can think about architecture in adding value to their organizations.”
How can enterprise architecture add value to their companies around digital disruption?
There are two things, says Roland around how enterprise architecture can help. “First, everything is faster. The expectations in delivery are higher on the timeframe, and it’s more iterative. So that’s the reason people move away from a waterfall approach with the big design upfront, to a more Agile approach without maybe not knowing exactly what that actually means. Second, from a technology perspective, everything is getting smaller. When you think about 15 years ago, 20 years ago, you had those huge ERP implementations where everybody wanted to standardize all the processes because it had to fit into the SAPs and Oracles of the world. So, companies moved away from the best-of-breed to the more standardized approach. I see the trend going to smaller pockets. You have the single application. You have things like containerization. You go up to a point where you have Content-as-a-Service that’s hosted by a cloud provider. Which then on the other side adds obviously a lot of complexity with tons of little things that you have to manage like release management, and then and those things that come together. So on the one hand, you ask to be faster and deliver in a more Agile and iterative way - while on the other side, the complexity grows because you have millions of little things to manage and that’s definitely a shift from the traditional architect to deliver in a modern fashion nowadays.”
“With digital disruption, business architecture (which is part of enterprise architecture) can play a pivotal role in helping the organization to speak along the lines of capabilities,” adds Dan. “I think having a common vocabulary between the business, IT, and management helps to make sure everybody’s on board and understands what the effect of digital disruption would be, and to assess the current state of capabilities and prioritize where enhancements need to be. When you’ve got all these little different pieces and all these different aspects, companies can start organizing and better managing them under a business architecture umbrella.”
In addition, Dan says he sees a trend where enterprise architecture teams are starting to be asked to pay more attention to the emerging tech, to really look ahead and see what’s coming up. “There are opportunities and risks to this emerging tech. An enterprise architect can assess the impact of what it would take to deploy, how much more would it cost or save, determine whether there are any preconditions, and to what capabilities will this affect. A company can do a lot when they have business architecture; as it’s able to add/connect tracking and managing emerging technology. Then for me, you’re assisting with a strategic vision, which has been mentioned a few times and I strongly agree. I think enterprise architecture aspires to be there and that’s where you get towards influential,” adds Dan.
John adds, “Historically the job of enterprise architecture has been ‘how do I make the job of IT easier?’ Now it’s, ‘How do I create a digitally enabled business strategy, an operating model to take advantage of all the new and innovative technologies that our organizations can leverage?’ The role of architecture becomes elevated because just to throw out a stat, if you think about it, more than half of the capital spending that’s occurring across the economy is in technology the companies are spending. That becomes the largest line out of our own CapEx and so architecture has to play a critical role in how we’re managing that innovation budget and innovative technology to get into new and different things.”
Roland adds, “I think it’s helpful if a company uses a common repository. I think you can do enterprise architecture with a piece of paper and a pencil, but I think there are more efficient ways of doing it. There are tools that help you to have that shared repository where the business, technology teams and risk groups can see how their contribution goes in and see how it all connects and contextualizes information.”
For additional insights, please view our short videos on how to move your enterprise architecture efforts from noisy to influential.
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This momentum for business architecture is encouraging. It is being adopted across many organizations, industries and geographies. More business architects are beginning to work with leaders within the business to develop concise views of the business - and because of this reporting structure, they can architect the business and directly apply it. Further, industry reference models created by The Business Architecture Guild are helping to accelerate the application of business architecture because there is little standardization that needs to be established.
Whynde Kuehn, Founder and Managing Partner of S2E Transformation, says, “Business architects should challenge themselves to be not only architects, but also leaders and change agents – and develop value-added skills that complement the business architect role.”
Now, let’s dive into three smart strategies to boost your business architecture efforts:
Strategy #1: Obtain executive sponsorship and share meaningful progress with stakeholders
Business architecture is a journey that is constantly evolving and maturing – as is your organization. If your business architecture efforts started small and built over time or business architecture at your organization was initiated from up above to manage digital transformation efforts, executive sponsorship is key to ensuring credible introductions across the business and providing incentive for people to work with you. In short, if you haven’t obtained executive sponsorship, it’s not too late. Reach out to your supervisor, CIO, or even COO to garner their support.
Sharing business architecture’s value is another important element that is easy, given the very output of business architecture is traceability. Architecture gives traceability at an enterprise level which is imperative now more than ever as organizations grow at rapid pace and as everybody is working in agile environments, with less governance and increased time to market. Business architecture breaks strategies down into objectives, objectives into initiatives or projects, maps them to capabilities which are used in value streams, and then tracked to people, process, and technology. At its very core, business architecture shows how projects and sprints tie back to the bigger picture of the enterprise transformation and show the impact of this enterprise transformation on the capabilities. Thinking about initiatives enhancing the business capability, business architecture switches the mindset of funding a project to funding a new capability, thereby allowing business leaders to better understand where funding is used and can then tie it back to the long-term objectives and vision of the organization.
Lastly, when sharing the progress of your efforts, make sure to take the extra step to think like an executive and communicate to them in their language by connecting the changes to improvements in profitability, efficiency, and cost management.
Strategy #2: Be the connector between the Business and IT
Simply stated, the Business owns the blueprints for the strategic direction and vision of the company, and business architecture supplements this by owning the architectural vision and recommending how to translate their ideas into action. To maximize this, it’s imperative for business architects to go into the business units, understand how they work and interact with customers to design it in architectural terms. This will not only help boost your business architecture efforts, it will also build your credibility as your work will be more complete and accurate.
Further, team up with your fellow architects to show a more robust approach to business value. Enterprise Architects, IT Architects, Solution Architects, and Data Architects need Business Architects and vice versa. For example, business architecture needs to understand customer journeys so they can understand what changes will impact key decision points. To do this, it’s vital to connect with IT and Solution Architects to understand the integration. Further, if a company wants to make a change to its business model (e.g. merger & acquisition, expansion, or new solution), business architecture needs to work together with IT and Enterprise Architects to understand the enterprise view and technology components. Be the connector and your entire team will be recognized for greater value.
Strategy #3: Enable “what if” scenario modeling and bridge the strategy-to-execution gap
It’s important to consider how the relationship between IT and the Business changes and adjusts as organizations introduce Agile methodology and Lean approaches. When business architecture completes current state models, the full value of business architecture comes to bear and “what-if” scenario modeling can be instantly created with greater detail and accuracy. The shorter the ability to understand the impact of “what-if” scenario modeling, the faster a company can get feedback, analyze it and incorporate it. Business architecture plays a critical role in connecting the impact of decisions in people, process, and technology, thereby bridging the strategy-to-execution gap.
Putting this into action, companies are making important decisions everyday whether to expand, introduce a new product, merge or acquire a new company, reduce costs, increase risk resiliency, the list goes on. Drilling down into one of these examples, we know that in a merger or acquisition one company will need to merge operations, financial functions, business units, and other aspects of the enterprise with the newly acquired entity. This requires understanding of all levels of overlap and redundancy to develop a new operational plan which requires common definitions of processes, capabilities, rules, business units, customer types, etc. The role of business architecture in this type of scenario is to enable management, architects, and analysts to have a common view from a cross-functional and cross-disciplinary perspective. This “what if” scenario modeling puts business architecture at the center of the organization, and most importantly enables the company to have a common view of measurement and success.
Business architecture is a journey, not a destination – and the output of your work will constantly evolve too. Organizations like The Business Architecture Guild are working to make business architecture easier by establishing a network for business architecture to come together and creating industry standard reference models. Software is also creating platforms for business architecture by establishing capability maps in a dynamic environment that allows current state and dynamic “what-if” scenario mapping to test new strategies and outputs.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” Utilize these three strategies to steer your business architecture efforts and you will also see improvement, achievement and success.
Want to hear more strategies to boost your Business Architecture Success?
Listen to our live panel discussion titled, "Business Architecture & Strategy Execution: Managing Risk, Scaling the Practice." MEGA Customer Success Manager and Enterprise Architect, Gordon Cooper led a robust conversation with Business Architecture veterans William Ulrich , President of TSG, Inc. and The Business Architecture Guild, Diane LeBeau , Chair of The Business Architecture Guild’s Executive Advisory Council, and Josephine Gilmore , Manager of the Business Agility Office at FedEx Services. They discussed strategies and real-world examples of how Business Architecture can help organizations manage risk and scale across the organization. Click here to listen.
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