Enterprise architecture can be a powerful tool for transforming your business, but there’s a lot of misunderstanding and confusion about what it does. Here, we debunk some of the most common myths and explore how enterprise architecture can help you. Myth #1: I don’t need enterprise architecture Consider the following questions. Is your business and the environment it operates in becoming more complex? Is your business dependent on the use of technology to operate? Do you have a strategic goal to grow your business? What are the opportunities for your business that technology can unlock? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then chances are you will need an enterprise architect. These are typically the questions that enterprise architects can answer for executive teams in organisations. There are many roles in any IT team in most organisations, but none of them are specifically focused on addressing these questions at an appropriate level of detail to not only turn questions into answers, but into actionable initiatives. Architecture speeds up delivery by removing doubt and giving a certainty to how your enterprise can evolve. It’s a classic case of slowing down to speed up. Fact #1: Every enterprise benefits from EA. For an enterprise to be agile and responsive to trends, marketplaces changes and competition, they need to know how their processes and relationships add value to their business. Myth #2: EA solves everything when it’s documented and complete Now that you’ve documented your architecture, it needs to be maintained. That is of course unless nothing in your business ever changes! That would be like having a map to Johannesburg as your destination, halfway there deciding to rather go to Durban, but sticking to the same map. Your architecture should be a living and evolving part of your IT and business decision-making governance. It helps you evaluate the impact of your choices, so you make decisions in an informed way. It’s not perfect and won’t solve everything, but EA is one of the ways in which you can create new data points based on appropriate technical and business analysis that improves decision-making. Fact #2: EA is a roadmap EA does not only describe the enterprise, it also drives the business. It takes constant attention and guidance. When the business changes, you may need to adapt your EA. It is not a single event in the timeline of a business but rather a perpetual view of the business and its future. Myth #3: EA is just a framework anyone can complete There are many architectural frameworks out there. Many of them were established in the 1980s and were based on large enterprise resource planning systems and designs. Technology has moved on from these large-scale monolithic ERP-based capabilities into a world where the cloud, software-as-a-service, APIs and many other new design patterns are in play. The old days of following a rigid process that took many months to complete and that strived to capture 100% of the technical and business environment is gone. Architects and architectures must be more flexible and align to the pace and cadence of the organisations to have value. Fact #3: The EA of every different and unique enterprise is a customised framework. It merges the applicable industry and EA frameworks, bringing together the culture, processes, capabilities, agility, maturity and technology landscape for a result that is unique to each specific enterprise. Myth #4: EA has no business value Enterprise architecture creates common views of the same topic and improves communication between parts of an organisations. We could have some lively debates about other value statements, but above all, this one is almost immutable. The value of creating a framework that aligns different points of view or perspectives around a common goal reduces the risk of making uninformed decisions. Fact #4: An EA project will produce significant value and Return on investment. An EA project will produce significant value and return on investment. For instance, EA could support reducing an organisation’s application portfolio, by identifying duplicate capabilities facilitated by different applications. Myth #5: EA lives in an ivory tower and the output is slides no one uses Good architects are close to the business and IT teams and understand what is required to align these perspectives. They can design the guardrails and standards that allow IT teams to execute their operational work effectively and play a crucial role in the governance of an IT capability. They are also outward facing and know what the technology landscape is evolving into so rework can be limited and reusability maximized. Their work should be real-time and inform project decision-making and some may be required to advise on large scale outage remediation when needed. It is a more hands-on role than most people expect. Fact #5: EA is the conductor to the complex symphony that is the enterprise. Enterprise architects are like the composer of a symphony or the architect of a building project. They may not be playing an instrument or laying the bricks, but they take the vision of their benefactor or building owner and show others how to execute. Enterprise architects are crucial to creating the designs and roadmaps that inform change and transformation. They are able to have business conversations and technical discussions and create a bridge between the two that removes the risk of what can get lost in translation. Myth #6: EA is overly complex Our organisations and enterprises are complex structures with multiple layers, with different departments, varied value propositions, products, diverse processes, applications and technology. EA methodology is often combined and adapted according to your culture, maturity, governance strategy and organization structure. The result is a customised EA framework unique to your specific enterprise, which produces both a view of current reality and forecast of the future. It organises all elements and ensures the most important elements are viewed and addressed in context. Fact #6: Complexity can be managed with an uncomplicated approach to EA EA simplifes what’s going on in complex organisations so you can make better decisions and see the road ahead. Myth #7: EA is for IT departments only An enterprise’s architecture is determined by its capabilities and services. EA provides the crucial information for operational decisions, tactical decisions, strategic objectives and future planning to guide decision-makers. All business departments and their appropriate lines of business are involved in the EA discipline. Fact #7: EA offers a complete view that’s relevant for everyone EA guides the entire organization, helping you to steer the ship.
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