Enterprise architecture is a strategic framework that aligns an organization's business strategy, processes, information, and technology to achieve its goals.
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The only thing digitalization can’t magically align is our individual preferences of how to work. We complete jobs in the ways we want—sometimes logically, sometimes irresponsibly—and by using whatever tools and resources are before us. All of this despite working towards the same goal as everyone else in a company.
Modern and traditional enterprises alike employ IT architects to correct broken processes and augment new strategies by binding them to carefully chosen innovations.
That's where Enterprise Architecture Hub comes in. This Hub is a definitive guide including a curated collection of articles, whitepapers, videos, and other resources that provide a wealth of information.
Whether you're just getting started with EA or you're a seasoned pro, you'll find valuable insights and practical advice that can ensure a fluid EA initiative.
Enterprise architecture is a strategic framework that aligns an organization's business strategy, processes, information, and technology to achieve its goals. It provides a holistic view of the organization, enabling effective decision-making, optimization of resources, and adaptation to changes in the business environment.
It is a combination of multiple underlying disciplines, such as:
Full spectrum of all architectures (Source: itarch.info)
A specialty devoted equally to the worlds of IT and Business, it introduces practical standards across departmental units and teams in order to streamline efforts with an intelligent sharing of resources.
EA enables IT to become an innovation driver and support business needs for any short-term or long-term change projects.
Enterprise architecture aims to establish a framework that outlines an organization’s structure and operations, often through the creation of a business capability map or blueprint. This framework should provide a comprehensive view of the organization, including its IT assets and business processes.
In addition, enterprise architecture also seeks to foster team alignment and standardization by harmonizing environments across teams and organizations. The guidance provided is typically based on an organization’s unique business requirements.
📚 Related: Value of Enterprise Architecture
If you want to explain enterprise architecture to a non-IT friend, try this: "Enterprise architecture is like a blueprint for a big organization. It shows how all the different parts fit together, like people, tasks, tools, and information. It helps the organization run smoothly and achieve its goals. It’s like a map that guides everyone in the organization, so they know what to do and how it all connects for success."
The history of enterprise architecture can be traced back to the 1960s and 1970s when organizations began to realize the need for a systematic approach to managing their growing information technology (IT) infrastructure.
The term "enterprise architecture" was first coined in the 1980s by John Zachman. Throughout the 1990s, various frameworks and methodologies emerged to guide the development and implementation of enterprise architecture.
The adoption of enterprise architecture gained momentum in the 2000s as organizations recognized its value in aligning business strategies with IT investments.
Today, enterprise architecture continues to evolve, adapting to new technologies, business challenges, and the ever-changing landscape of organizations seeking optimal efficiency and agility.
Enterprise architecture teams previously produced exhaustive 5-year plans consisting of excessive amounts of analysis, slow timelines, and rigid conceptual models.
With the agility and DevOps movement on today’s IT management best practices, these old enterprise architecture mentalities have been forced into obsolescence.
The 5 key use cases of Enterprise Architecture
As the enterprise architecture practice has evolved, its supporting tools have also evolved.
Specialized enterprise architecture-focused tools are scalable, they support complex modeling, company-wide collaboration, useful integrations, and ease of use while enhancing data integrity and quality.
Enterprise architecture’s new remit meant that it had to redefine itself to the standards of a digital era. Once a deskbound pursuit was accomplished in backrooms, it had to break free from theoretical concerns to bring the following tangible benefits to enterprises in applied manners.
The main benefits of enterprise architecture are:
📚 Related: Enterprise Architecture Benefits
Established correctly, enterprise architecture (EA) adds value to organizations through enhanced processes, efficiency, and decision-making. However, its adoption is limited due to challenges.
Ambiguous starting points, implementation and governance gaps, and the need for ongoing innovation pose obstacles to successful EA programs.
The most common EA challenges are:
📚 Related: Enterprise Architecture Challenges
Elevating IT architectures to enable these benefits led to the rise of dominant working methodologies — most of which were developed by consortiums or governments or prominent tech companies — that laid the groundwork for today’s modern enterprise architecture frameworks.
ArchiMate is a graphical modeling language and framework designed specifically for enterprise architecture. It provides a standardized notation to describe, analyze, and visualize the relationships between various architectural domains.
The Zachman Enterprise Architecture Framework is a structured approach that helps organizations analyze and align various aspects of their enterprise.
It provides a grid-like structure with six rows representing different perspectives (planner, owner, designer, builder, subcontractor, and user) and columns representing different perspectives (scope, business model, system model, technology model, detailed representation, and function).
TOGAF is a method of designing, implementing, guiding, and maintaining the construction of enterprises using controlled phases—or, as it is known, the “Architectural Development Method (ADM)”. Its strategies have been iteratively improved upon for 25 years.
FEAF, an architectural framework designed initially for use by the U.S. Government to integrate its federal agencies, is a collaborative planning methodology that has become a popular EA model used in private enterprises.
Gartner, a global leader in IT research and insights, has put forward enough best practices for Enterprise Architecture solutions throughout the years during its consulting practices that it has built up its own methodology — one focusing more so on business outcomes than abstract phasing.
White PaperThe Enterprise Architect of Tomorrow
Getting started with EA can be a daunting task, but breaking it down into several steps can make the process more manageable. In this context, here are six steps that can help you get started with enterprise architecture.
📚 Related: EA Success Kit
The first step in getting started with enterprise architecture is to define the business goals and objectives that the organization wants to achieve. This could include improving efficiency, reducing costs, enhancing customer experience, or achieving compliance with regulatory requirements.
Some of the subsets of enterprise architecture you can decide on, are:
Enterprise architecture involves collaboration between various stakeholders, including business leaders, IT professionals, and end-users. Identify the key EA stakeholders who will be involved in the enterprise architecture initiative and ensure they understand the goals and objectives of the project.
As businesses embrace modern, cloud-driven solutions, the need for flexible enterprise architecture management (EAM) tools, such as LeanIX EAM has grown. Traditional planning tools like Excel, Visio, and PowerPoint no longer meet the requirements of digital business models.
With the shift towards agile approaches, modern EAM tools are crucial for driving change and maintaining competitiveness. Choose the EAM tool which enables modular visualization of the IT landscape and supports your objectives.
Assess the current state of the organization’s IT infrastructure and systems to identify areas of strength and weakness. This could involve conducting a comprehensive IT audit to evaluate the organization’s hardware, software, networks, and security.
Based on the business goals and the assessment of the current IT infrastructure and systems, develop a target architecture. The future state architecture should align with the business goals and objectives and be designed to address any weaknesses identified in the current state assessment.
Develop an implementation plan (transformation roadmap) that outlines the steps required to transition from the current state to the future state architecture. This plan should include timelines, milestones, and resource requirements.
📚 Related: EA Roadmap
Once the enterprise architecture initiative is underway, it’s important to monitor progress and adjust the EA framework as needed. This involves measuring progress against the implementation plan, identifying any issues or roadblocks, and adjusting the plan as needed to keep the initiative on track.
The digitization age and a higher number of organizational divisions pushed IT infrastructures to solve business challenges. That's why EA best practices can help you tackle complex challenges in a tried and controlled manner from the ground up. McKinsey mentioned the following.
The inherent accessibility of modern enterprise architecture management and its fundamental use cases in organizations has led to the popularity of dedicated training centers—many of which are connected to improving EA proficiency in key topics like cloud transformation, data compliance, and risk management:
📚 Related: Enterprise Architect Certifications
Enterprise Architecture ManagementDaniel Eichten, adidas: Transforming on Multiple Levels
Enterprise Architecture Management Value Stream ManagementGlobal Product Engineering Alignment at Avalara
Enterprise Architecture ManagementHow Beiersdorf Changed the Rules and Reimagined EA
Enterprise Architecture ManagementA Greenfield Approach to IT Modernization with C&A and LeanIX
In summary, enterprise architecture is important because it helps organizations align their IT infrastructure and systems with their business goals and objectives.
By implementing an enterprise architecture, organizations can improve efficiency, reduce costs, ensure compliance, and establish better communication and collaboration between business and IT stakeholders.
Ultimately, enterprise architecture is essential for digital transformation and staying competitive in today’s business landscape.
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What is enterprise architecture in simple terms?
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