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The 8 Big Questions Facing Enterprise Architecture

        posted by , November 15, 2011

Last week I attended a Enterprise Architecture (EA) symposium in London. It struck me that Enterprise Architects are still grappling with some very fundamental questions.

1. What is Enterprise Architecture?

At sales conferences you rarely hear the question: what is sales?

It says a lot about the state of Enterprise Architecture that the best and brightest in the field are still discussing the definition of EA.

2. Governance or Collaboration?

Everyone seems to agree that EA often becomes shelfware. On the question of how to implement EA there are two camps:

i. Enterprise Architects should have the authority to govern new projects and initiatives to force implementation of the EA.

ii. Enterprise Architects should build relationships, communicate and build influence to encourage implementation of the EA.

3. Is business the customer?

Enterprise Architects are unanimous that business executives often do not understand the impact of their IT decisions. As to the cause of the problem there are two camps:

i. The business is the customer — and the customer is always right. It is the responsibility of IT to educate the business about their choices.

ii. Business and IT is a partnership. Business leaders are often guilty of shirking their responsibilities.

4. EA frameworks?

Everyone seems to love TOGAF — but everyone agrees it is bloated. How TOGAF should be streamlined is an active topic of discussion.

5. Is EA a business or IT function?

There is still a lack of consensus — should the EA team report to IT or the business? In recent years there has been a trend to move the EA function to the business side. In some cases the Chief Architect reports to the CEO.

6. Are Enterprise Architects strategists?

There are two camps here too:

i. Enterprise Architects are facilitators that guide business and IT leaders through the process of documenting strategy.

ii. Enterprise Architects are visionaries that propose strategies to business and IT.

7. What is EA's value proposition?

EA is a long term planning activity. How does EA sell itself in a world where business is fully focused on quarterly results?

8. Does Business Architecture fall under EA?

TOGAF defines four types of architecture that fall under EA: business, data, application and technical architecture. There is still much discussion in the EA community — should business architecture be a separate function?

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