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How To Sell The Value Of Enterprise Architecture With Opportunities And Solutions

Enterprise Architecture(EA) is a young discipline that has only been around since the early 1980s. It was not until the mid-1990s that EA started to build momentum: being adopted by most of the fortune 500. Since then EA has had mixed results.

EA Challenges

Many EA programs suffer from weak leadership, lack of shareholder support and poor communication. The result — EA is often perceived as a dreamy world of IT visions and long term roadmaps.

EA Success Factors

The recipe for EA success is short cycles that deliver:
  • a clear vision
  • a actionable roadmap
  • architectural blueprints (building blocks)
  • a pragmatic path from the current environment to the target (implementation plan)
  • governance that facilitates change and delivers business results
  • measurement and effective communication of results

A common pitfall of EA is to spend too much time on vision, roadmap and blueprints. The place where most EA programs start to go astray is implementation planning.

TOGAF Opportunities and Solutions

The TOGAF framework for enterprise architecture includes an implementation planning phase called Opportunities and Solutions.

Togaf opportunities and solutions

Implementation = Business Value

The Opportunities and Solutions phase is where EA begins to show tangible business value:
  • Implementation options are evaluated (e.g. buy vs build) and target architectures are identified.
  • Strategic parameters for change are listed.
  • Transition work packages and projects are identified (the projects that will move the organization towards the target architecture).
  • Dependencies, costs and benefits of the projects are weighed.
  • Quick win projects are identified.
  • High value long term projects are ranked and prioritized.

The end result is a overall implementation and migration plan. This includes work products such as a architecture requirements specification, roadmap, capability assessment, implementation and migration plan and transition architecture.

enterprise architecture togaf framework

Selling EA Implementation

Like all phases, Opportunities and Solutions should be time-boxed. There is no value in spending massive resources looking for the perfect architecture.

Opportunities and Solutions often involves a gap analysis. The gaps between the current state and target architecture are listed. Projects are identified that address the gaps. These projects are analysed and ranked according to factors such as dependencies, costs and benefits.

The next step is to identify transition architectures. This may include complex situations such as co-existence of new and old solutions.

The end result is a comprehensive implementation plan - this can be viewed as the EA sales proposal. The enterprise architecture has been documented - this is the proposal to put it into action.

The success of the EA program depends on getting budget and support for implementation. EA without implementation is just more paper.

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