Great Enterprise Architects Offer Decisions, Not Detail

Posted by Neil Sheppard on June 3, 2024
Great Enterprise Architects Offer Decisions, Not Detail

Enterprise architects need to carefully pick the relevant information their stakeholders need to make rapid decisions to avoid overwhelming them with irrelevant data. Discover how SAP LeanIX can help you quickly find the right answers.

Enterprise architects aren't just relied on to gather and maintain a repository of IT infrastructure data. To leverage that information, stakeholders need specific, relevant summaries to drive quick and accurate decision-making.

This means architects need to pluck actionable datapoints from a huge sea of information at a moment's notice. Even better would be for EAs to rapidly develop evidenced recommendations for action that their stakeholders can simply approve.

This is the key to enterprise architects proving their value to their organization in a turbulent marketplace. That, however, requires the right toolset to enable architects to rapidly summarize information

To find out more about how SAP LeanIX can support enterprise architects in offering a truly great service to their stakeholders, book a demo:

Request demo

What The Simpsons Tells Us About EA

In the Simpsons Movie, there's an irreverent scene where a government representative presents three proposals to the president of the USA. In this cartoon universe, the president is a fictionalized version of the actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, voiced by Harry Shearer.

President Schwarzenegger picks one of the plans at random and encourages the representative to enact it. When asked whether he wants to read the proposals before choosing, President Schwarzenegger responds with a classic Simpsons quip:

"I was elected to lead, not to read"

This is extremely facetious and intended as satire, of course. However, there is something to be said for this attitude.

Sometimes, getting too deep into the detail is unproductive. As the author Hector Hugh Munro once wrote more seriously:

"A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation"

CIOs Need A High-Level View

CIOs are paid to make key strategic decisions, not to understand every minute aspect of your IT landscape, something far too complex for any one person. Instead, CTOs employ specialists for their expertise with complex, technical systems.

Technical specialists work with your IT systems and pass on a key overview for the CIO and other stakeholders. The CIO's role is to take an overview from each specialist in each area and interpret this high-level view in order to create an overall strategy that supports every part of your organization.

CIOs are, of course, significantly more intelligent and informed than the characters in The Simpsons, but that doesn't mean they need to know reams of detail that aren't relevant to the strategic choices at hand. It's all too easy, however, for enterprise architects who work with that data to overwhelm busy CIOs and other stakeholders with complex technical details that they don't have time to worry about.

A Logicalis survey found that 90% of CIOs were occassionally bypassed on purchasing decisions. This is likely due to their team knowing they're too busy to give consideration to the action.

A good enterprise architect will spend time selecting the bare minimum information their stakeholder needs to make the right strategic decision regarding their IT landscape. This way, CIOs can still be involved in the decision-making, and maintain crucial oversight, without running out of time.

This is the key to achieving the greatest results with the least effort for everyone involved. This is the value of enterprise architecture.

Enterprise Architects Narrow The Field Of View

The true value of enterprise architecture is in filtering the vast amount of IT infrastructure information that your stakeholders would otherwise need to sift through. Without this support, it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Let's say your stakeholder is looking at one particular application and they want to know whether it is a good technical fit for your organization. They don't want to look over the historical performance information for your entire application portfolio.

In fact, they probably don't really want to see comprehensive information regarding the application in question either. All they're looking for is the cost and effort involved in replacing the application and how much better a new tool will perform.

If they are feeling pressured to provide this information quickly and make a decision, they'll likely be frustrated by an enterprise architect who is providing detail that goes far beyond what they need. This is why narrowing the information down to just what's needed is a key part of the enterprise architect's role.

However, enterprise architects can be even more valuable to their stakeholders when they go beyond simply offering data. A really great enterprise architect offers a decision.

Decisions, Not Detail

Enterprise architects who appreciate the time constraints that their stakeholders are under will be appreciated far more than those who don't. Everyone in the modern business world is being asked to do more with less, and facilitating that will make you invaluable to your stakeholders.

If a stakeholder approaches you with their concerns about whether a particular application needs to be replaced, don't respond with data. Instead, provide them with the "if", "then", and "or" of the situation:

  • If you retain this application in its current state
  • Then it will continue to perform at this level until it reaches end of life at this time
  • Or you can replace with the best-of-breed solution for this cost and this amount of work

This provides them with a multiple choice decision. They can either tolerate the application with the related consequences, or replace it - simple.

In reality, of course, this can be complicated by there being several different alternative applications with different cost levels, or several potential outcomes to retention. Either way, summarizing all this in a ten-slide presentation deck is far more useful to your stakeholders than offering them a data spreadsheet with thousands of lines.

A good way to go about this is to make a recommendation. Enterprise architects often want to remain objective and unbiased as a point of professionalism, but most of their stakeholders are actually just looking for an expert to recommend a course of action for them to approve.

Of course, summarizing the situation often involves enterprise architects having to sift through their enormous spreadsheets of data. That's why they need tools that can sort and filter this data for them far more efficiently.

Enterprise Architects Need The Right Tools

Enterprise architects are the liaison between an enormous amount of infrastructural data and stakeholders who need that data boiled down to quick yes/no decisions they can make. The effort involved in manually sifting through that data is significant, however.

That's why enterprise architects need tools that are designed to support them in quickly managing huge amounts of enterprise architecture data. They need SAP LeanIX.

SAP LeanIX can import all of your infrastructure information and visualize it. You can then manage this data to produce dashboards that contain simple representations of just the data that's relevant to a particular stakeholder or project.

Track how that data will progress into the future and make changes to your architecture in a sandbox environment to see what the impact will be. You can even include IT component data from your configuration management database (CMDB) and information about the sustainability of your applications for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting.

To make offering up simple decisions to your stakeholders even easier, we've recently added the capability to create and share presentations directly within SAP LeanIX. We've also added generative artificial intelligence (AI) features to our tools to make managing your enterprise architecture information even easier.

To find out more about how SAP LeanIX can support enterprise architects in offering a truly great service to their stakeholders, book a demo:

Request demo

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