The Enterprise Architect

Theoretical Framework - Enterprise Architecture

The intention of this section is to position the Enterprise Architect as a team member of the Enterprise Architectural function. This section covers the EA frameworks, tools, and methods, the EA role and EA challenges and EA responsibilities. With an aim to diminish the existence of information islands and to align the business and IS/IT domains, the responsibility for coordination of the various initiatives are addressed the Enterprise Architecture (EA) within the organization (Magoulas & Pessi, 1998). The EA is according to Aerts et al. (2003) built on three domains: the business domain, the application architecture and the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) platform architecture. EA is founded on architectural principles (Greefhorst & Proper, 2011) and architectural patterns (Perroud & Inversini, 2013). To obtain Strategic Alignment for the domains involved (Henderson & Venkatraman, 1999), empowerment and teamwork is essential (Magoulas & Pessi, 1998). Organizations constitute from systems as either hard (i.e. machines) or soft (i.e. people) (Checkland, 1989), where systems and its relations, as architecture, are cooperating (Sangwan, 2015). Langefors (1978) stresses the awareness of that systems is not a technological construction only, thus technology should be considered as contributing to a system involving humans. Largely, the EA is considered to provide a corporate business strategy capability (Simon et al., 2014). To obtain this capability, EA should be considered as part of the IT Governance model for the business, evaluating apart from EA, the IT principles, the IT infrastructure, the need for Business Applications and investment needs (in technology) (Ross et al., 2006). The metaphor to the city plan is commonly used to describe and delineate the work of the EA contrasting the other architectures involved in IT Management. While other architects are planning for individual elements, such as systems or particular data, the EA is intended to specify and address the interaction between many (all) elements within the business (Niemann, 2006). New technological inventions will provide the necessity for a valid infrastructure, however in most cases the setup has to be rebuilt from its foundation. In this environment, EA is expected to represent the expertise and to provide a correct understanding of the benefits and likewise, which is important, the consequences of a new path to align with. In many cases, when a new path is decided and implemented, the point of no return is passed (Rivard et al., 2010). Therefore, EA should guide organizations through the business, information, process, and technology changes, compulsory to execute the business’ strategies. While an organization is a human construction, EA is induced by the human spirit and the knowledge how to best build the technology in supporting the association (Potts, 2013). In summary, the EA is intended to coordinate the strategic alignment, indicating a clear strategic capability by EA to the business. Since humans build the EA, the professionals as Enterprise Architect have to carry out the EA initiatives to accomplish this guidance to the organization. The next subsections will briefly indicate the definition and role of EA.

The definition of EA

Unfortunately, a generally agreed definition of EA is still under construction (Strano & Rehmani, 2007). Nevertheless, this subsection is intended to provide a brief idea of the concept of EA: Enterprise Architecture (EA) has a firm position in a business in providing the prerequisites for managerial and technological decisions. By then EA is to a certain degree a political instrument (Sidorova & Kappelman, 2009). EA could be a useful tool to check business processes aiming for consistency and transparency (Brocke vom & Rosemann, 2010). EA is the ability to provide a satisfactory and agreeable 360-degree view of the business in a positive drive to quality granting the diversity of actions within the business (Burton, 2011). EA provides the principles, methods and guidelines necessary for business integration through enterprise engineering (Finkelstein, 2006). EA provides the knowledge of the business and its technology architecture aimed as the pre-knowledge to changes in the business environment as providing the consequences of impending decisions. EA’s holistic and purposeful view of the business and its ability to take advantage of technology act as the enabler for future commercial success (Andriole, 2008). The core objectives for EA is to provide the riggings necessary to acquire the organizational effectiveness (Ross et al., 2006), agility (Bente et al., 2012), durability (Hausman, 2011) and overall efficiency (Schekkerman, 2005). Below, a few citations from various sources about the definition of architecture are presented:  “An architecture in which the system in question is the whole enterprise, especially the business processes, technologies, and information systems of the enterprise” (Sessions, 2007) (p.5). “A coherent whole of principles, methods, and models that are used in the design and realisation of an enterprise’s organisational structure, business processes, information systems, and infrastructure.” (Lankhorst, 2013) (p.3). “The fundamental organization of a system embodied in its components, their relationships to each other, and to the environment, and the principles guiding its design and evolution” (IEEE, 2000) (p.3). Our interpretation and definition of the EA is that EA is the tool for organizations to proactively and holistically power business development by identifying and implementing the necessary changes to the business, as a prerequisite to achieve strategic business objectives. EA is considered in many respects the fundamental link between the business and the IS/IT domains, where architecture is at the center in terms of design principles, frameworks, models, and business processes. The concurrent EA, in an as-is state, encompass architecture as substantial, i.e. perceived and by then part of the ontology, while the EA in its to-be state is not perceived, hence not substantial and part of the epistemology. The next section will elucidate the role of EA.

The role of EA

The role of Enterprise Architecture is anticipated to be more significant in the future and by then there is a prerequisite to comprehend how this role is determined. The role of EA is considered more important in the future. EA could at this glance be considered as the key framework for horizontal and vertical enterprise integration (Xu, 2015). The role of EA is to provide logic for the business processes and the supporting IT infrastructure (Ross et al., 2006). This role enhances the need to understand the business and IT perspective in their corresponding contexts determining the needs and pain points in a joint effort to utilize capital and resources in a justified manner (Luisi, 2014). Boh & Yellin (2007) argue the standardization of IT management and its domains as key for EA. Minoli (2008) states the role of EA as, a.) Addressing architectural issues to the appropriate architectures within the business; b.) To evaluate and communicate the value of the various architectural visions perceived; c.) To cultivate these visions into reasonable technical approaches; and d.) To discuss and socialize those visions achieved with the stakeholders concerned by the implementation to come. Land, Op’t et al. (2009) advocate the governance role of EA to interlink strategy with Programme Management in evaluating the perspectives in risk, project portfolio and HR. Faircloth (2014) discusses the guidance role of EA, focusing the business strategy and roadmap to obtain the business goal, governance principles, the organizational structure, and the architecture of the business processes. Below, two quotes about the role of EA: “Enterprise Architecture is an instrument to articulate an enterprise’s future direction, while also serving as a coordination and steering mechanism toward the actual transformation of the enterprise” (Greefhorst & Proper, 2011) (p.7). “Enterprise Architecture is the continuous practice of describing the essential elements of a sociotechnical organization, their relationships to each other and to the environment, in order to understand complexity and manage change” (EARF, 2009) (p.1) The strategic capability assigned the role of EA is essential in guiding the business’ forthcoming course with its transformational abilities, and should be considered as a coordinator to smoothly adjusting this course to fulfil the business’ needs. The next sub-section will cover the responsibility of EA.

The responsibility of EA

The Enterprise Architecture (EA) is considered to have responsibilities within an organization to treat the listed topics below with an aim to maintain and develop these subjects in a proper manner. Akenine et al. (2014) define the responsibility of the EA function as: The architectural capability (EA maturity); the architectural management (EAM); IT portfolio management (IT PM); Information Management (IM); architectural development (ADM); and IT strategy. These responsibilities are defined as: Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) The EAM describes the structure of the systems involved, the information and technical layers and to what extent the IS/IT landscape is consistent with organizational strategy (Ahlemann, 2012). IT Portfolio Management (IT PM) The IT PM provides the framework for managing the IT investments and subsequent activities comprising the IT operations (Maizlish & Handler, 2005). The IT PM includes, among others, the prioritizations, the technology lifecycle handling, managing change to systems, and resource allocation (Bonham, 2005). Levin & Wyzalek (2014) amplifies the prerequisites derived from an efficient IT PM, in justifying proper IT investment needs, and the transparency in the investment decision process. The Project Portfolio Management is considered to be part of IT PM (Pennypacker et al., 2009). Information Management (IM) IM is aiming to increase the return on information, starting from the information worker’s perspective transforming information into means (Baan, 2013). Architectural Development Management (ADM) The ADM is considered as essential to correspond the architecture with the organization’s contemporary needs, where the architecture is deliberated to balance the enterprise’s short term needs with a long-term value, which requests for architectural governance (The Open Group, 2011). IT strategy The IT strategy is intended to form a strategy for the IS/IT based on various business scenarios, involving components such as benefits, roadmap, budget and the stakeholders’ perspectives (Mohapatra & Singh, 2012). In addition, the EA should consider the EA maturity related the business, indicating the reference and target architectures for the organization in focus: EA maturity The capacity of the architectural capability is dependent on a particular technical, architectural and organizational maturity related to EA, where the value of EA is intended to correlate the direction of the business (Steenbergen van, 2011). Reference and target architecture The target architecture characterize the to-be architecture (“on completion”) (Ahlemann, 2012) while the reference architecture is the detailed mapping of some areas of the “city map” (Bernus et al., 2003). In summary for this subsection, the EA has several responsibilities to maintain and develop the architecture, including the EA maturity and encompassing the reference and target architectures. The next section is intended the question if EA should be deliberated as an audit tool or as a driver for new businesses.

EA as the business driver or as the architectural law enforcement agency?

One severe subject is if the EA should be regarded as the organization’s architectural law enforcement agency or if the EA will be deliberated as a strategic capability to find the new, future paths for the organization to come. Apparently, there is no generic answer available to this question, where every organization has the choice to coach their organizational members what to prioritize which in turn, largely is dependent on the organizational style of management and leadership in what manner this subject will evolve. Nonetheless, this strategic issue is important to bear in mind when the appropriate talents as architects will be assigned the mission of the EA. The successful business One key to business success is the methodical identification of strategic positions in an aim to support and to obtain the competitive advantage for the business (Collings & Mellahi, 2009). According to Joyce (2005) the business success is built on four musts: the business strategy; the execution of operations; a performance-centric culture; and the appropriate organizational structure. The organizational paths paved; The talented, successful business continue to provision for future success based on the earlier victories (Joyce & Slocum, 2012). EA as the business driver Trapp (2014) anticipates a future paradigm shift in the common business processes models for most businesses. Fischer (2014) believes the hyper-connected world to come will shift the paradigm on how the business will consider information, from reactive to proactive, in gathering real-time business information by creating business value within and from networks. The added business value might be auxiliary from the external parties to the business by utilizing crowdfunding (Scholz, 2015). By then, technology should serve as the business driver to make the arrangements to earn money (Andriole, 2008). In parallel, Faden (2014) suggests focusing the core activities to optimizing the business performance. Analogously, Bragg (2010) directs the business fields of certain interest to pursuit cost reductions. For a business in transition, change projects should assist in helping, not hinder, the business development where the architectural control mechanism should be considered as informative rather than as architectural law enforcement (Andriole, 2008). EA as the architectural law enforcement agency Aiming to mitigate the business risks, the organizational control system has to perform as the lawmaker and the law enforcement system (Lam, 2014). To a certain degree, IS/IT is considered as an area to be governed to obtain business stability (Moeller, 2013). Several organizational threats are prevalent such as information security (Shostack, 2014), fraud (Spann, 2014), and financial manipulation (Wells, 2013). Architectural risks will be monitored and in control of the EA’s regulative, instructive and informative role in the organization (Greefhorst & Proper, 2011), such in case of information systems outsourcing (Hirschheim et al., 2014). In this context, it is of importance to find an appropriate balance for the assignment of the EA function, which mission is anticipated as part of the business strategy. Subsequently, the business has to decide on the accurate individual(s) to hire, for the position of the member(s) of the EA team, and explicitly in finding the right talents (McDonnell et al., 2010) for the assignments of the Enterprise Architect. At a first glance, these short statements could be reflected as insignificant. Though, the distinction may have significant consequences for EA's development in the particular organization,  when the individual’s characteristics impressively differs in whether the EA is to be perceived as  an auditing function or staffed by entrepreneurs, with a great aim to find the best paths for future success. The next subsection will briefly list the frameworks, tools, and methods available in the field of EA.

Enterprise Architecture

© Enterprise Architect, 2015. Version 0.27,  2015-10-11
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