In my current job as a systems engineer, I have had numerous opportunities to review case studies of successes and failures within that discipline. So I wanted to review similar scholarly articles about enterprise architecture. This is where I was surprised to find far fewer case studies than I would have thought. And the overwhelming majority were very positive. Surely, not every implementation of EA is positive. There must be some documented failures.
Maybe organizations who fail at EA don’t want to publicly proclaim their failure? After all, it has to be easier to hide a failed EA implementation than a failed engineering project. I am however, willing to admit that maybe it was just my failure in searching for failures.
This leads to my next thought, of what makes for a good implementation of EA? To this I would add a short list, which is likely up for debate.
- Accurate and descriptive models. Enterprises are complex organizations that need descriptive models to organize the relevant aspects of the actual parts or behaviors. They also need prescriptive models that describe how to build other things to carry out these behaviors or tasks.
- Business focus. The architecture needs to be inclusive of the business view not the technology. The technology is there to support the business not the other way around.
- Collaboration. The architecture must support collaboration between the stakeholders from the C-suite, department managers, team leaders and individual employees. Buy in from top to bottom is necessary to a successful implementation.
- Focus on outcomes. The architecture must be tied to business strategy. Implementing architecture without the focus on achieving the desired business outcomes will lead to something more academically oriented than business oriented.