The 6 Factors to Consider When Building Your EA Organization

Posted by Matthew Grant on July 9, 2018
The 6 Factors to Consider When Building Your EA Organization

Enterprise architecture has become an essential part of managing the complex IT environments we operate in today. As companies adopt more formal EA strategies (70% have increased their investment in this area), they’re building out their EA teams to execute on them.

Since your EA efforts stand and fall with the strength of the team you have put together, building that team out in the right way is essential. 

In the sections that follow, we’ll outline 6 important factors to consider as you plan and build your EA team. We'll cover key questions to ask yourself along the way, who should contribute to the process, and the technical solutions needed to support your efforts.

Quick Takeaways

  • Key stakeholders from across your organization should be included in the development of your EA team.
  • Set clear goals before you build your team by developing a visual roadmap connecting your current state and target state architectures.
  • Team size and structure will be determined largely by leadership preferences and practical factors like company size and budget.
  • It’s critical to educate and gain buy-in from employees at all levels to ensure the success of your EA team and your overall EA strategy.

Building an Enterprise Architecture Team: 6 Important Factors

1. Who are your stakeholders?

Enterprise architecture strategies have a diverse set of stakeholders. Naturally, direct contributors like the CIO, other IT leaders, enterprise architects, engineers, and developers are all play a role in crafting and guiding your EA strategy and the team that you build.

But what about others across your organization? Executives, leaders of specific business units, application users, and even customers all have a stake in your enterprise architecture. Consider how their perspective might inform the shape of your EA team.

For example, an expanded EA team will bring with it new processes and new levels of IT oversight. Decision makers in other parts of the company and the people who work for them may need to adjust to these changes. How can the skills and experience of the people on your team make these adjustments go more smoothly?

2. How can you involve your stakeholders?

Diverse perspectives can be invaluable as you decide how to structure your new EA team (more on that later). To fully understand these perspectives, include various stakeholders in the actual planning.

The benefit of doing so is twofold: You get the perspectives needed to build an effective team, while at the same time gaining buy-in from stakeholders by making them a valued part of the process.

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To get the most from your discussions with your stakeholders, ask key questions like:

  • Where do you experience IT pain points and what support do you need?
  • Which applications do you use and for what?
  • What kinds of IT-related decisions do you make in your department?
  • How could the IT strategy be improved in your opinion?
  • What are you looking for in an enterprise architecture support team?

It’s also helpful at this point in the process to look at your current state architecture and fill in any historical or contextual gaps with information from your stakeholder group.

3. What are your goals?

Defining your EA-related goals is critical to building a team that can help you accomplish them, and it starts by understanding two things: Your current state architecture  and your target state  – the ideal architecture state you want your organization to reach.

The best way to understand this fully is to build a visual representation — a roadmap, if you will — that shows where you are now and how you’ll get to your target state. You’ll want to make this roadmap detailed, so asks yourself questions like:

  • What tools will be phased out and what will be added?
  • What IT roles will be eliminated and/or added?
  • How will we phase the transition project and what is the execution timeline?
  • Who will be impacted by the changes we make?
  • How will the new EA team contribute to this process at every stage?
  • What are the KPIs by which we’ll measure success?

4. What should your team size and structure look like?

Next, you’ll need to make decisions about the actual makeup of your team. How big should it be? What positions/titles should it include? What will the reporting structure look like?

Naturally, the vision of senior decision makers in IT along with lead architects will go a long way to determining the size and structure of the EA organization. Practical factors like company size, hiring bandwidth, timelines, and budget will also all come into play. As was the case with your architecture roadmap, a visual representation of your target organization can clarify a lot of details. 

Decide who will lead the effort when it comes to determining the specific shape of your EA team, and give them space to dedicate adequate time to the exercise. Revisit this structure as you build your team, and remain flexible about whether your original plan continues to best serve your organization or if it needs modification.

5. What solutions do we need?

Your EA leaders will most likely already have specific tools in mind (in fact, you may actually start with a solution before building the team), but it’s still a good idea to review all potential investments in the technical solutions required to support and optimize your EA initiatives. 

For example:

  • Do you anticipate cloud migrations that will require additional investment in cloud services?
  • Do you plan to adopt an EA platform solution that not only supports your team but is also accessible to stakeholders across the business?
  • Are there identified gaps in the application landscape you know you’ll need to fill?
  • What other EA-related solution costs exist on our target-state roadmap?

Knowing the answers to these (and similar) questions empowers you to make smart, forward-thinking decisions throughout the process of building your EA team.

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6. How can we gain buy-in from across the enterprise?

It’s great that you involved key stakeholders in the development of your EA team — but they’re not the only people you’ll need buy-in from for your team to be successful. Building a data-driven EA culture requires participation from contributors at every level, and that requires educating them on why EA and their participation is important.

Gain buy-in from employees across your organization by educating them on both the value your EA team and strategy will bring to their part of the business as well as how their contributions will drive its success.

Empower Your Enterprise Architecture Team with LeanIX

LeanIX enables your Enterprise Architecture team to collect data, make decisions, and manage change with an outcome-driven approach. Our flexible, best practice Meta-Model means you can smoothly get your EA program off the ground and quickly demonstrate value.1

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