This trend is confirmed by a Gartner survey that finds, “77% of respondents were either: restarting or renewing EA efforts (18 percent); initiating EA for the first time (34 percent); or focusing on taking EA efforts to the next level (25 percent).” Enterprise Architecture practices are delivering business value, which is great news, but there are proactive steps you can take to accelerate and elevate your EA practice. If you focus on delivering tangible results back to the business, you can elevate your EA practice and increase your influence throughout your organization.
Most EA programs are stuck in this first stage where EA is seen as making a lot of noise (“don’t make any moves until I catalogue and architect everything first”). If business leaders don’t feel the positive impacts of the architecture, then enterprise architecture is just seen as extra work and unnecessary. How many times have we heard the phrase architecture for the sake of architecture? To move from this stage into stage 2, begin successfully implementing use cases to illustrate real business value. You need to have a picture of what that end-state looks like and think strategically about the future goals of the business but start with small wins. Each step forward should work towards the company’s broader vision.
When you start implementing use cases that deliver on business outcomes, you’re able to produce real value and now you can start earning trust outside of the IT department. From here you can gain traction and buy-in from business leaders and begin to transform into a business unit seen as helping the organization reach strategic goals. At this point, if you haven't already, you should start shifting your focus to supporting business operations. You will implement additional use cases, building towards that strategic plan, but always focused on business outcomes. As your use cases expand, the amount of data you use and maintain grows, and this increases your business value.
As you start building a reputation for delivering greater value, you’ll see your influence increase and you’ll become more trusted. You’ll start being a source of truth for reliable information and you’ll get requests for help with additional use cases. Once you’ve gain trust from the business, you can start shifting your focus from business operations to strategic planning and make the C-suite your key stakeholders. You should have a comprehensive view of the enterprise (maintained in your repository at this point) to support rapid impact analysis and transformation scenario simulations.
Once you’re in the influential stage, congratulations are in order, because now business leaders see you as a strategic partner. You’ll know you’ve arrived at this stage when they start consulting you before undertaking new initiatives. How’s that for elevating your EA practice? To remain in this stage and not take steps backwards, continue focusing on capabilities and the needs of the business, providing tangible business value, and driving transformation and innovation.
Which of the following most accurately describes how the business perceives your enterprise architecture program? Attendees had 4 options to choose from:
We had 223 responses to our survey and discovered that almost 40% felt their organization viewed the enterprise architecture practice as useful, which is encouraging. However, almost 30% responded that their business viewed enterprise architecture as having little or no value, illustrating that there’s still much work to be done educating senior leaders and business executives about the power and value of EA.
Here’s a breakdown of our survey results:
Although we’re thrilled to see some enterprise architecture practices have gained status and are trusted and influential within their organizations, many EA programs still struggle to earn trust and be viewed as valuable. Enterprise architecture is often seen as an intrusive cost center that builds architecture for the sake of architecture, delivering nothing more than noise. But there is a path that can be followed where the efforts of the enterprise architecture team will deliver value back to the business. Identify short-term projects, deliver small wins, and soon you will be appreciated as useful to a few key stakeholders. Leverage this new confidence in EA as a catalyst into bigger projects that have more visibility throughout the organization and you’ll expand the audience that recognizes the value of enterprise architecture and become trusted then influential.
We know EA practices are delivering business value, but as we discovered from our survey results, too frequently they are viewed as offering little value and creating extra work. If you focus on delivering tangible results back to the business, you can elevate your EA practice and increase your influence throughout your organization. Check out our blog post Does Your Enterprise Architecture Practice Amount to Anything More Than Noise? for a step-by-step guide to increasing enterprise architecture’s influence and business value in your organization.