I was reading a posting to a LinkedIn group I belong to, Association of Enterprise Architects, about the demonstrating the economic value of enterprise architecture. Basically the article was about the need for enterprise architecture and architects can be justified by how well it supports its two main goals – aligning the business and its operations with IT, and bridging the gap between the organization’s current state, and its desired future state.
These goals on their face, are fine, except for most enterprise architecture plans, these goals are not usually achieved in the short term. The alignment of a business and its operations with IT is at best, a long term project. And as the size of the business increases it could be that success is not achieved for many years.
The problem of course is that you need to show steady progress for an organization to keep funding an enterprise architecture endeavor. The article suggested four key indicators:
Improved Strategic Planning. Since enterprise architecture often bridges the gap between strategy and implementation, which ties to one of the main EA goals of bridging the gap between an organizations current and future state, it adds a level of transparency to the strategy implementation. Many business units operate in a stove pipe that aren’t in sync with the rest of the business, but EA helps keep these units focused on their goals
Better Communication. In order to implement a new strategy you have to communicate that strategy. The enterprise architects job is to ensure that the strategy is communicated and that a means of collaboration are available to the management and employees.
Tactical Improvements. Besides improving the strategic planning process, enterprise architecture improves overall processes. It does this by looking at what is and is not aligned and uncovering areas of redundancies. By identifying these deficiencies the architects can help save an organization time and money.
Taking Better Risks. Through strategic planning the architects can better judge where an organization can safely take risks that will likely lead to some economic benefit. This is opposed to organizations without and EA initiative that will buy into a technology without fully understanding it and therefore assuming a larger risk.