When to implement Enterprise Architecture?

When to implement Enterprise Architecture?

By Aaron Tan Dani

The right time for EA
Enterprise Architecture is an important – and arguably increasingly necessary – endeavour for any organization that wants to stay relevant in today’s fast-changing, ever-competitive landscape. A successful EA program can be a great asset to an organization.

Unfortunately, many companies fail at Enterprise Architecture because they are not ready to implement it. Perhaps they lack the organizational capabilities, the vision or the commitment to successfully implement an effective EA program.

Doing an enterprise “health check”, i.e. assessing its readiness, and addressing key issues before embarking on an Enterprise Architecture journey will help ensure its success.

EA Readiness Assessment
Enterprise Architecture readiness assessment is an organizational health check that serves as a useful indicator of issues or areas that need to be looked at before adopting EA. The idea is to identify enterprise components or processes that need to be ready prior to EA implementation.

The typical scope of this assessment includes multiple sessions that cover between six to eight EA Readiness Factors (out of a total 12). Based on factors like nature of business, organisational structure and even political power, surveys are done to obtain quantitative data. Interviews with key stakeholders are also done, to ascertain qualitative data for assessment.

If there are factors that do not meet requirements of the EA project, remedial steps can be taken. Recommendations on what needs to be done in order to achieve successful EA implementation will be documented. Below is an example of a Readiness Assessment for Vision and Commitment factors extracted from our modelling toolkit:

Let’s look at the Vision factor as an example. Firstly, it should be assessed with respect to its Current Score and then its Required Target level. For example, if the Vision factor is rated “Low” (current readiness level = 1), it needs to be raised to “Acceptable” (required target level = 3) to realize the Target Architecture state. Actions are that will enable the factor to change to a favourable state are outlined in the document.

The EA Readiness Assessment Model is presented in red, yellow and green, just like a traffic light:

Red (Level 0 – 1.0) – Not Ready
Yellow (Level 1.0 – 2.5) – Partially Ready
Green (Level 2.5 – 5.0) – Ready

Below, you can see sample recommendations (Required Actions) to ensure successful implementation as well as to mitigate any risks that may occur during EA implementation:

Besides Readiness Assessments, architects must also establish program milestones and devise strategies to assess program maturity along the way. Which leads us to our next point.

EA Maturity Assessment
A good approach for Maturity Assessment is to base it on the Enterprise Architecture Capability Maturity Model (ACMM) that was first developed by the US Department of Commerce for conducting their internal EA assessments. ACMM is a framework that can be used to identify areas of weaknesses so that more focus and attention can be given to them, to improve overall EA processes.

In contrast to the Readiness Assessment, which covers between six to eight dimension factors, the typical scope of the Maturity Assessment covers between eight to 10 dimension factors. As with the Readiness Assessment, these factors will be documented with the necessary steps recommendations on what needs to be done in order to achieve higher capability and maturity levels for EA.

Below is a score table that indicates the levels of readiness and maturity.

Level Name Description
0 None Enterprise Architecture program is non-existent
1 Initial Enterprise Architecture is on the initial/beginning stage
2 Under Implementation Enterprise Architecture is under implementation with at least one transition, but not effective due to some basic requirements not being met
3 Defined Enterprise Architecture is established, functioning and is a repeatable process
4 Managed Enterprise Architecture is embedded as part of the enterprise culture
5 Optimized Enterprise Architecture is implemented with concerted efforts across the enterprise to continuously provide improvements along the lines of best practices

The Maturity Assessment model allows for the configuration of a weighted distribution for each of the dimension factors, to allow for customization and adaptation for different environments in organizations. Below is an example of Maturity Assessment dimension factors that carry the same weight:

Lastly, below is an example of recommendations (Required Actions) that need to be done to achieve and sustain a higher level of maturity for a successful EA program.

One dimension factor that’s absolutely crucial in an organization is a culture of continuous improvement.  Without it, it’s very difficult to implement EA. Another critical factor is stakeholder support. Without it, it would be hard for EA to succeed.

These holistic diagnostic readiness and maturity “health checks” help to ensure that the complex task of EA will be successful for the enterprise.

Aaron Tan Dani
Chairman of EA Chapter, Singapore Computer Society

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