"EA shouldn't go it alone" — One Big Lesson from the LeanIX Connect Americas Digital Summit

Posted by Melisa McGregor on November 22, 2021

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LeanIX recently hosted a unique online version of its annual Connect Americas summit. Featuring a half-day of presentations on enterprise architecture (EA) by experts from companies like Southwest Airlines and Paysafe Group, discussions at Connect Americas Digital ranged broadly from how to best launch EA programs to how CIOs can realize the benefits of business-led IT.

You can watch recordings of all presentations from the event here.

Delivering value with a data-driven EA

A common thread connecting the many presentations was summarized best by Paysafe Group’s Galina Stancheva: “EAs shouldn’t go it alone.” Indeed, Stancheva revealed why the collaborative nature of modern EA is essential for continuous transformation journeys and how it fosters essential cross-departmental partnerships for IT. It’s no longer practical for EA teams to collect and manage data on IT landscapes alone, it was explained, and in order to get an effective EA practice off the ground, diverse stakeholders have to be assigned ownership over the EA model.

“Go outside of IT and EA to build relationships with other departments.” – Galina Stancheva, Enterprise Architect, Paysafe Group

Audiences were reminded that EA’s end goal isn’t about mapping IT landscapes but rather using the visibility of a fully documented IT landscape to drive transformation insights across the organization. And, quite naturally, getting to this point and making use of the data requires the participation of more than just EAs.

The power of visualization in EA

Christian Holston, Senior Enterprise Architect with Southwest Airlines, reiterated the importance of cross-organizational data – in particular, when gaining buy-in from new stakeholders. With a modern repository of EA data, Holston discussed how he and his team are able to faster illustrate the consequences of technology risk and obsolescence to business leaders. This includes individual scorecards with condensed and contextualized information on subjects like “Application Health” which help EA teams focus conversations on technology risk with non-technical stakeholders.

Alongside such scorecards, Holston also equips stakeholders at Southwest Airlines with KPI dashboards to monitor changes to the risk landscape. The result? Digestible, scalable, and relevant EA data, accessible to users across the entire airline.

EA programs in the government sector 

The corporate world isn’t the only place where EAs struggle to get stakeholders to fulfill their part of the IT management bargain. As illustrated by Nancy Halvorsen, Sr. Management Analyst at Pinellas County Government in Florida, USA, explained: “EA needs to be a group effort, but everyone has other things to do.”

“EA offers a holistic view of our environment.” – Nancy Halvorsen, Sr. Management Analyst, Pinellas County Government 

In a joint Q&A session with Deb Moore, IT Manager Software Services at City of Arlington, Texas, USA, Halvorsen fielded questions on the challenges of managing IT landscapes within modern cityscapes. Both speakers recommended using EA tools to initiate conversations with stakeholder networks. Because no other department head or functional lead has such a complete perspective, views like these give EAs an opportunity to highlight connections and dependencies between various part of the organization. EAs can contextualize the needs of different stakeholders as well as identify areas for greater collaboration and mutual benefit.

Insights from a CIO: Managing SaaS at scale

To tie it all together, Sylvie Veilleux, former CIO at DropBox, revealed to audiences the benefits of modern EA tools when managing SaaS. Due to the proliferation of the technology and the lack of standardized ownership/management practices, Veilleux cited best practices like maintaining business capability maps and combining SaaS Management and Enterprise Architecture Management Platforms. 

"Business is enabled by a capability-first approach. Not by a tool-first approach." – Sylvie Veilleux, Board Director, Prezi

By leveraging LeanIX visualization tools, for example, Veilleux spoke about her experiences showing senior leadership of past employers the vast number of under-utilized tools within their IT landscape. In turn, this awareness exposed inefficient workflows and presented clear improvement opportunities to her business and operation teams alike. "The power of visualization," Veilleux explained, "especially around business capabilities and architectures, simplifies the process of planning and prioritization of technology roadmaps."

Using collaborative forms of EA to improve stakeholder engagement was just one of many themes of LeanIX Connect Americas Digital. For more insights, watch the recordings of the event on demand! Also, keep an eye out for more LeanIX events here.