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Gartner's Top 10 Enterprise Architecture Pitfalls

        posted by , February 11, 2011

Gartner released its list of the top 10 enterprise architecture pitfalls at its October 2009 Enterprise Architecture Summit in Orlando Florida.

1. Weak lead architect

Gartner indicated the need for a strong chief architect to lead EA ― someone who commands respect and can accumulate the political capital needed to drive a EA program forward.

Clearly many chief architects meet this criteria ― personable, commanding and authoritative. However, according to Gartner there is a general industry-wide lack of good EA leadership.

2. Lack of stakeholder understanding and support

This is a huge problem ― "architecture" has become a widely misunderstood buzz word. Enterprise Architecture is all the more difficult to explain to stakeholders.

3. Not engaging the business

Of all technology teams EA should be the closest to the business. There is currently a trend to move EA out of technology ― making it a business function. In some cases the team reports directly to the CEO.

4. Only doing technical level architecture

This is a common problem ― some EAs seem to always be caught up in server capacity issues or other low level technical issues.

5. Focusing on the current state EA

It's a lot easier to document the current state architecture than propose a target. Unmotivated EAs tend to spend forever puddling around with current state documentation.

6. The EA group does most of the architecture

Ideally the EA group guides the process but the business defines much of the architecture.

7. Failure to measure and communicate impacts

8. Only architecting the boxes

EAs are sometimes a little too high level.

9. Late to establish effective EA governance

Governance is the most challenging part of an enterprise architecture program. Governance should be introduced in the early phases and incrementally rolled out.

10. Not spending enough energy on communication

Enterprise architecture needs to be understood by a wide audience including the business, key IT personnel, solution architects and those involved in IT governance processes. The communication challenges are daunting.

Gartner suggested it is easier to teach a good communicator enterprise architecture than vice-versa. This might be taking things a bit far ― communication skills are fairly common. The idea that you can take some off the street and teach them enterprise architecture is a stretch. Enterprise architects must have a depth of experience to understand both the business and IT. They need to garner the respect of technical staff and have the depth of experience to recognize doomed projects and dead ends. It is impossible to teach someone to be a technology visionary ― it is earned through experience.

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