Moving Enterprise Architecture Frameworks into the Future

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In our first post “Origins of Enterprise Architecture Frameworks”, we discussed the origination of frameworks and the context for enterprise architecture frameworks, but in the enterprises of today, digital transformation, technological disruption, and business agility have forced frameworks to evolve. Traditional Enterprise Architecture and the frameworks that support it have been shaken to their core by the need to not only keep up with the pace of change, but to predict, facilitate, and leverage that change to the advantage of the business. That is what is expected of the enterprise architecture function today: enterprise architects expect a framework that helps them live up to those expectations…or face extinction.

G. Cooper, MEGA International
MEGA International will be sponsoring the virtual IRM UK Enterprise Architecture & Business Process Management Conference Europe 26-29 October 2020, the conferences are co-located with the Business Change & Transformation Conference Europe
This article was previously published here.

Moving to an Agile Enterprise Architecture

One of the most common complaints of the traditional enterprise architecture function is that it does not keep up with the pace of change. It does not facilitate agility.

The development and adoption of the Agile methodology has done more to force enterprise architecture to change its approach than any other force in the business. Businesses must be able to rapidly change course, account for technological disruption, develop new capabilities or enhance customer experience of existing capabilities. Fortunately, recent technological advancements have enabled the automation of architecture processes. Architects can now spend time doing the things they always wanted to do, but never had the time. They can focus on exploring emerging technologies and innovation, build reference architectures for these, and help set and achieve strategic business objectives. To do this, though, architects must understand more than just technology. They must understand the business and how technology enables that business.

The Role of Enterprise Architecture is evolving: more business oriented

In the current transformative environment, companies are experiencing disruption and modernization in not just product offerings, but in management and organization as well. Employees now operate in an enterprise rife with complex systems, horizontal and matrixed communication channels and stakeholders who do not work with traditional mechanisms of hierarchical authority.

Decentralization of the Enterprise Architecture function

The command and control management espoused by Taylorism has been challenged by new methods of problem solving that have manifested in new management and organizational structures.

These methods have led to the transformation or elimination of traditional roles such as business analyst and project manager. The shift to more design thinking has led to a growing interest by business unit employees in the concepts of enterprise architecture. This has contributed to the decentralization of the enterprise architecture function and the relegation of the enterprise architect to a role of coach in the art and/or science of enterprise architecture.

The Expansion of Enterprise Architecture beyond IT

Another transformation of enterprise architecture is already underway, the expansion of enterprise architecture beyond the confines of IT. Enterprise Architecture is permeating the business. This expansion stems from business people who know that for all intents and purposes, their companies are technology companies. This also means that for business to function at a high level, it is necessary for architects to have a deep knowledge of technologies, know how these technologies are applied to business capabilities and functions, provide a master repository of architecture components and relationships, and maintain a common architecture methodology.

The Problem with Agile Methods

Agile methods solved some very specific problems. Projects had very high failure rates. Either the stakeholders were not getting what they expected, or time to value was not keeping up with the rapid pace of change in the marketplace. Also, many projects experienced heavy technical debt, causing enormous downstream costs when technologies were no longer viable and had to be updated. The results were inevitable immobility.

Changing the organizational structure by breaking the pyramidal hierarchies and focusing on interactions between individuals more than on processes and tools, changes could be more rapidly implemented thus allowing rapid changes in direction and development of user-friendly functionality. This organizational revolution did not come without risk. Small agile teams may be able to make rapid changes and adjust to meet changing requirements, but the absence of the traditional pyramidal structure means that the big picture is no longer seen. The collection of teams lose the perspective of a common goal and simply iterate on details that no longer contribute to the value of the original effort.

Enter Agile @ Scale

There is no argument against a need for agile thinking. Due to rapid technological advancement, where barriers to entry of new products in the marketplace are virtually non-existent, and where market shares are frequently redistributed, there is a strong need for a variable adjustment. This variable comes in the form of Agile @ Scale. One of the most popular examples of agile @ scale is SAFe (Scale Agile Framework). SAFe was designed in 2011 by Dean Leffingwe. This framework has shaken up traditional architecture. Not only does SAFe integrate with architecture frameworks, it allows the application of the methodology to larger groups that can work effectively without dispersing and according to a overarching plan. The purpose of SAFe is not to manage a project but to build a product. The product is decomposed into functionalities or capabilities instead of requirements. This provides a faster customer feedback loop and avoids costs of delayed product launches.

Does This Spell the End of Traditional Enterprise Architecture Frameworks?

Businesses will always need enterprise architecture, but enterprise architecture will need to adapt to the new models for organization, management, and especially product development. Customer-oriented, modular design is speeding time to value and enterprise architecture frameworks must be able to facilitate this type of approach. Enterprise architecture frameworks must also be extensible. New advancements in the integration or layering of risk and compliance onto the enterprise architecture have proven to be catalysts for the evolution of EA frameworks. Companies want to be able to assign risk to components where risk exists. These risks need to be aggregated by system, process, organization, capability, product, etc. The same can be said for regulatory requirements. With the advent of privacy law, enterprises need to understand where data starts, moves, is processed, consumed, and stored. Application of risk and compliance further the comprehensive scope of enterprise architecture.

Traditional Enteprise Architecture Frameworks need to be renewed

So yes, traditional enterprise architecture frameworks need to be renewed to accommodate scaled agility, risk, compliance, innovation, etc. Enterprise architecture frameworks must enable the development of MVPs (minimum viable products). Most importantly, enterprise architecture frameworks must provide that convergence of all aspects of the enterprise.

At present, MEGA is actively involved with The Open Group to help bring about the framework of the future, one that accounts for all components, perspectives, and aspects of the enterprise and provides a method for the association of the components and the rendering of views that help every stakeholder understand not only the area in which they operate, but also the enterprise picture of where a company is, where it wants to be and how it will get there.

G Cooper has almost 30 years of experience in Enterprise Architecture, IT Governance, Technology Risk, Compliance, Solution Architecture and Project Management. He tirelessly pursues the complete contextualization of the enterprise in order to build adaptive enterprises and extend EA as a business evolution function. Founded in 1991, MEGA International have been a global market leader for over ten years. We partner with customers to improve governance and accelerate transformation by leveraging technology. Rooted in our values, we believe that innovation, performance, agility and people are the keys to success – and together accelerate the creation of value.

Copyright G. Cooper, MEGA International

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