Enterprise Architecture (EA) helps business leaders and stakeholders make better decisions. A well-crafted and maintained EA provides accurate and timely information regarding the processes, systems, and technologies currently in place along with those needed to achieve an enterprise’s strategic goals and objectives.
Modern businesses are transforming and adapting in more ways and at a more rapid pace than ever before. Reaching new customers, improving customer experience, or launching a new product can require fundamental changes to how an organization operates. Optimizing internal processes to improve efficiency or safety likewise impacts systems, processes, and technologies. Regardless of the specific transformation, these efforts all begin with initiatives that change the organization in some respect.
While numerous resources exist that offer guidance in the development and execution of critical transformation initiatives, less guidance is available on the information that enables stakeholders to make the most informed decisions possible. The most successful initiatives begin with asking fundamental questions like these:
Can we effectively measure the challenges and risks of this initiative?
How should new technologies be integrated within our existing IT environment?
Does the initiative align with our existing skill sets and technical assets?
Will the initiative require a more modern architectural style, such as cloud computing?
Five Core Deliverables
The deliverables of an effective enterprise architecture are a bridge that connects decision-makers with the information and understanding they need to guide effective digital changes and enhancements.
Business Principles. Changes within an organization can often challenge existing assumptions. Stakeholders and enterprise architects across the organization should make deliberate decisions about how their business should operate at a fundamental level. The outcomes of these decisions become simple statements encompassed as Business Principles and are used as the foundation of any new initiative undertaking.
Business Capability Map. Next, business executives and domain architects decide which business capabilities become the focus of digital investments. These key capabilities can be identified, discussed, and tracked within a Business Capability Map. This map offers a high-level, graphical view of the most critical capabilities required to implement the initiative.
Roadmaps. Product owners and solution architects can then outline specific projects required to build the identified capabilities. Roadmaps are used to identify necessary prerequisites, duration estimates of each project, and the order each should be implemented.
Project Plans. Project managers work with product owners to define each project in the form of Project Plans. These plans often include the objectives, expected outcomes, identified risks, and of course, the requirements essential to the project.
Solution Designs. Finally, architects and development teams decide how the technical solutions should be implemented. These decisions are captured as Solution Designs, which include the necessary technical aspects of data, application, and infrastructure architecture.
These artifacts represent the most basic core of a pragmatic approach to Enterprise Architecture. They provide key information to stakeholders at all levels within the organization. While some of the artifacts are likely already being used in your organization, understanding the context of where they fit within the EA and how they relate to each other allows everyone to better understand the “how’s and why’s” of the complex map of strategies, initiatives and projects. That’s the very essence of what enterprise architecture is all about.
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