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Enterprise Architecture Communities: It Takes A Village

Posted by Neil Sheppard on April 15, 2024
Enterprise Architecture Communities: It Takes A Village

Enterprise architecture communities are the key to managing your vast application portfolio with limited resource. Discover how you can recruit your entire organization into your enterprise architecture initiatives.

Enterprise architecture communities are a vital part of any mature enterprise architecture function. With the size and scale of modern IT landscapes, there is simply no other way to make EA workloads manageable.

In 2018, Okta reported that the average company leverages more than 120 software applications. COVID lockdown has only increased this number by adding remote working and collaboration tools.

To properly manage your portfolio, enterprise architects need to fully understand each of these applications, how they're being leveraged by their organization, and what alternative solutions are available for each. Essentially, they need clarity on every IT tool your company uses and how it fits into your IT landscape.

It's simply impossible for one team to have all of this expertise, so the only way for an enterprise architect to support every part of their organization is to democratize their work. By getting everyone in your organization involved in enterprise architecture, you can gain expert, ground-level insight into every software application you use.

To find out more about how LeanIX solutions can support you in democratizing enterprise architecture, book a demo:

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Why Enterprise Architecture Communities?

Enterprise architecture communities are an essential part of any enterprise architect's toolkit. Without the buy-in of users, enterprise architecture becomes both an impossible challenge and an ivory tower exercise.

Looking out across your IT landscape from a central location gives you a high-level overview of your organization, but without any of the detail you need to make confident decisions. You can gain clarity on the forest, but without information on each tree, mistakes are unavoidable.

For a real-world example, an enterprise architect might understand the business strategy to retire Skype as a legacy application and replace it with the more-modern Teams solution. Yet, your customer success team might know that a major client will only communicate with them through the legacy tool and that account will likely be lost without it.

Likewise, say you plan to retire a legacy customer relationship management (CRM) tool to replace with a modern, user-experience-optimized tool like Salesforce and SAP S/4HANA. It might only be your CRM team that knows your legacy tool holds vital customer data that needs to be migrated before it can be used.

The key to enterprise architecture success is to recruit your entire organization into your initiative and leverage their knowledge to support your efforts. By building an EA community, you can gather essential insight on applications from the people who use them every day and ensure your efforts are informed by ground-level intelligence.

How To Build Enterprise Architecture Communities

Enterprise architecture communities begin with a very small team of key stakeholders. Your goal is to educate those who are most invested in your initiative about enterprise architecture in order to turn them into champions for the discipline.

If you intend to upgrade your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, for example, find the biggest stakeholders for the change who are driving the transformation. Train and engage them in how enterprise architecture will support their initiative and work with them to spread the word to everyone impacted by the project.

Once you've driven the ERP transformation project to completion using enterprise architecture practices, you should have a core group of stakeholders who have seen EA working in practice. These will then form the first group of champions in your enterprise architecture community.

WHITE PAPER: Insight, Communication, Engagement: How EA Supports Change Management

Encourage your champions to engage others in enterprise architecture and involve them in outreach and workshop sessions with your whole organization. Key here, however, is to make enterprise architecture information and tools available to everyone in your company, allowing them to immediately draw attention to burning issues that are fresh in their mind after these sessions.

Using LeanIX, you can also pro-actively survey anyone in your organization on their use of applications and everyone in your company can then view the results as evidence of the need for change. Our customers have even put this to creative use in order to drive engagement.

Kill An App Challenge

Enterprise architecture communities need to be fun and engaging in order to reduce the effort involved. It's simple human nature to spend less effort on something disinteresting that you have to do, rather than something exciting without pressure.

For example, one of our customers created a "kill an app" challenge within their instance of LeanIX. This offered a prize to anyone in their organization that could identify a software application that was ready for retirement within a certain timeframe.

This encouraged users to highlight legacy applications that were no longer needed and were low-effort to remove without consequence. This fun challenge gave the team several opportunities to reduce costs and enhance agility.

This is where change management comes into play, and these techniques can work to build an organization-wide enterprise architecture community that can drive application modernization forward for your company. To do this, however, you need the right toolset.

LeanIX For Enterprise Architecture Communities

So, you've built an enterprise architecture community and ensured it's educated and engaged in your EA function. What do you do with it now?

The LeanIX Application Portfolio Management solution is billed by how many applications it tracks the information of, not how many users there are. You can, therefore, offer a read-only account to everyone in your company, engaging them in your enterprise architecture function.

This means anyone in your team can see the application information that your enterprise architects are tracking, as well as the road map for developing your IT landscape into the future. This allows them to see instantly what you're working on, your previous successes, and your intentions for development, as well as to call out any pitfalls or issues with your plans before they become an issue.

By using our product, you can democratize enterprise architecture, and empower your enterprise architects with a huge network of subject matter experts and researchers, all willing to contribute to driving your IT landscape forward. This transforms your enterprise architecture function from an ivory tower exercise to an essential function of any modern company.

To learn more about how LeanIX enables enterprise architecture communities, book a demo:

Request demo

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