What is Enterprise Architecture Governance?
Enterprise architecture (EA) governance is a practice encompassing the fundamental aspects of managing a business. It involves firm leadership, a complete knowledge of organizational structure, a confident direction, and the enablement of effective IT processes to promote an enterprise’s strategies.
However, if distilled into just one area, the objective of EA governance is to harmonize the architectural requirements of an enterprise into an understandable set of policies, processes, procedures and standards—all of which to ensure an organization’s visions and standards are aligned with actual business requirements.
It is not an academic discipline detached from present reality, nor is it based on speculations of what is and what is not occurring. EA governance is an integral part of deploying and maintaining business strategies.
And, in many ways, it is an everlasting job.
Without EA governance, an organization is likely to tumble into a web of non-standardized technology, bad product purchases or development, and monolithic architectures (i.e. “silos”). These habits will inevitably have a long-term financial and operational impact, creating collaboration and standardization issues increasingly difficult to correct at an enterprise level.
With an EA governance model, an operation can achieve significant cost savings and realize the following benefits:
- Improved clarity of roles and responsibilities through management oversight
- Clear and quick decision-making to overcome challenges through greater transparency and accountability
- Architectural coherence with streamlined compliance
- Relevant and useful enterprise architecture management via pragmatic methods
- Expanded and elevated business value of architecture across the enterprise
- Encouragement of broad-minded views of architectures in new audiences
- Prioritization of architecture efforts on the right activities
- Visibility into areas of improvement to determine true best practices
Do not confuse EA governance with IT governance. IT governance is the process of making effective and efficient use of IT to empower an organization’s goals. The table below explains this difference more:
EA governance is not just the responsibility of IT executives (CIO & CTO) but also business executives (with the critical support of enterprise architects, domain architects, subject matter experts, and various other support staff throughout an organization).
EA Governance Context
Conceptually, EA governance is an approach, a series of processes, a cultural orientation, and a set of owned responsibilities that ensure the integrity and effectiveness of an organization’s architectures.
The following diagram represents the three key components involved in the EA governance framework.
For a governance to successfully function, all three elements must work in concert. This content-agnostic approach ensures that the framework is flexible. Furthermore, the processes are typically independent of the content and implement a proven best practice approach for governance.
EA Governance Framework
A sound governance framework to support the implementation and management of an enterprise architecture is required for an organization to achieve its EA objectives.
The governance framework to maintain enterprise architecture is comprised of the following components:
- Organizational Structure
- Roles and Responsibilities
- Standards and Guidelines
The following diagram shows the constituents of these foundational elements.
When establishing EA governance, it is critical to address each of these elements.
Guiding Principles of EA Governance
The major guiding principles for establishing successful EA governance are:
- Discipline: All involved parties will have a commitment to adhere to agreed upon procedures, processes, and authority structures.
- Transparency: All actions implemented and their decision support will be available for inspection by authorized organization and provider parties.
- Independence: Establish all processes, decision-making, and mechanisms used to minimize or avoid potential conflicts of interest.
- Accountability: Identifiable groups within the organization — e.g., governance boards who take actions or make decisions — are authorized and accountable for their actions.
- Responsibility: Each contracted party is required to act responsibly to the organization and its stakeholders.
- Fairness: All decisions taken, processes used, and their implementation are not allowed to create unfair advantages to any one particular party.
EA governance over an organization’s IT solutions delivery processes are focused on realizing a number of solutions. These include:
- Standardization: Development and promotion of enterprise-wide IT standards.
- Consistency: Enable required levels of information, process, and application integration and interoperability.
- Reuse: Strategies and enabling capabilities that reuse and leverage IT assets at the design, implementation, and portfolio levels. This could include both process/governance and asset repository considerations.
- Quality: Delivering solutions that meet a business’s functional and technical requirements, with a lifecycle management process that ensures solutions quality.
- Cost-effectiveness and efficiency: Leverage of standards, reuse, and quality through repeatable decision governance processes enabling reduced levels of total solutions lifecycle cost and enabling better realization on IT investments.
The enterprise architecture organization is initiated to develop and enable the adoption of design, review, execution, and governance capabilities around EA. These capabilities comprise a number of key elements, including:
- EA Frameworks: A set of standards, procedures, and operating protocols that guide and direct the decisions around the adoption, reuse, reporting, and retirement of information technology in organizations. These include guiding principles, methods, procedures, metrics, best practices, and reference models.
- EA Review Board: A cross-organizational, multi-disciplinary Architecture Review Board (ARB) with the backing of enterprise IT executive management to oversee the implementation of the technology governance strategy and framework definitions.
- EA Compliance: Definition of an EA compliance strategy and institution of a set of consistent, repeatable processes to ensure this EA compliance strategy. Establishment of the correct organizational responsibilities and structures to support the architecture governance processes and reporting requirements.
EA Governance Roles and Responsibilities
Roles and responsibilities within EA cover a broad range of activities, including but not limited to:
- Providing leadership and communication
- Envisioning, leading, and guiding the development of overall solution architecture compliance with IT transformation
- Understanding of business areas, mapped to the business capability model
- Understanding of technologies, mapped to the technology capability mode
- Establishing and maintaining the link between the implementation of the architecture, the architectural strategy and objectives embodied in the enterprise architecture, and the strategic objectives of the business
- Providing a mechanism for the formal acceptance and approval of architecture through consensus and authorized publication
- Providing a fundamental control mechanism for ensuring the effective implementation of the architecture
- Providing solution architecture and design skills
EA leaders need to work on integrating “Business and IT” instead of aligning “Business and IT”. The focus must be on realizing the business strategy and not just assurance and compliance.
EA Governance Processes
Process is a sequence of operations or events, possibly taking up time, space, expertise or other resources, which produce specific outcomes.
EA governance processes are integral elements of the overall EA governance framework used to implement technology solutions. Listed below are the five primary processes:
- Architecture Documentation Process
- Architecture Review Process
- Architecture Communication Process
- Architecture Compliance Process
- Architecture Framework Vitality Process
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Taxonomy is a collection of defined terminology, and a coherent description of the key components and the conceptual structure of architecture. Specific definitions for key concepts and terms are listed below:
- Approach: A way in which a task, activity, or process is executed and in which the performance is measured to meet the criteria covering principles, policies, systems, processes, approaches, and techniques.
- Best Practice: A way, or method, of accomplishing a business function or process that is superior to all other known methods.
- Plan, or guide, commonly used in construction, laid out logically and including essential elements to address and follow as building progress.
- A blueprint is a plan and/or design documenting the architecture of enterprise.
- Guiding Principles: Principles are general rules and guidelines, intended to be enduring and seldom amended, that inform and support the way in which an organization sets about fulfilling its mission.
- Methodologies: A methodology represents a package of practical ideas and proven practices for a given area of activity, such as the planning, design development, or management of IT-based systems.
- Rules governing transmitting and receiving of data.
- Standard that specifies the format of data and rules to be followed in data communication and network environments.
- Rules of engagement between various roles while performing a function or service.
- Standards: A set of criteria (some of which may be mandatory), voluntary guidelines, and best practices. The EA guidelines and standards dictate:
- Architecture must be appropriately scoped, planned, and defined based on the intended use of the architecture with development and promotion of enterprise-wide standards.
- Enterprise architecture must reflect an organization’s strategic plan.
- Architecture continuously changes and requires transition.
- Architecture must allow many disparate hardware and software systems to connect and integrate with each other. They need to exchange data to perform the desired business transactions.
- Enterprise Architecture will need to continue refreshing and updating the framework as well as the taxonomy, and to improve the enterprise architecture model.
- Enterprise IT must provide policy guidance, assistance in the definition, design, implementation of Architecture discipline, and practice throughout the organization.
- Enabling consistent advantage of standards, reuse, and quality through repeatable decision processes enabling reduced solutions cost plus better realization on IT investments.
- Strategies to enable capabilities that reuse and leverage IT assets at the design, implementation, and portfolio levels. This could include process/governance and asset repositories.
Metrics estimate the progress of EA during the early stages of EA implementation. It also helps measure the efficiency and effectiveness of EA to ensure true value is delivered to the business.
Measuring EA metrics is necessary to:
- Determine how effectively and efficiently the process or service satisfies the customer
- Identify improvement opportunities
- Make decisions based on facts and data
- Translate organization expectations into goals
- Evaluate the quality of processes
- Track improvements
- Support enterprise strategies
For the EA program to be successful, it needs to be periodically monitored and measured with respect to a set of defined metrics. The status of metrics across an organization can be captured, presented, and communicated effectively using EA scorecards or dashboards.
Enterprise architecture tools capture, store, structure, and analyze information pertaining to enterprise architecture, therefore, it is essential to pick the right tool to fit your organization.
EA tools provide support for strategic decision-making by capturing vital enterprise contexts, along with content development and analysis capabilities across the business, information, technology and solution architectures.
It helps stakeholders analyze and optimize the portfolio of business strategies, organizational structures, business processes / tasks and activities, information flows, applications, and technology infrastructure.
An EA tool covers the following functional features:
- Modeling capabilities
- Framework and standards support
- Ability to create or import models and artifacts
- Robust and flexible repository and meta model
- Ease of usability
- Integration to multiple enterprise usage tools
- Ability to impact at all levels of the enterprise domains
- Administrative capabilities to meet diverse needs such as security, audit control, collaboration, configuration, and versioning
A well-designed enterprise architecture governance structure can be essential in reducing IT costs and risks while accelerating decision-making and delivery. EA governance ensures that an EA program is managed properly to produce artifacts and plans truly representative of organizational goals and needs. As well, EA governance ensures investment decisions become aligned with the EA from initiation to implementation.
Governance is an important aspect of any change initiative. EA is no exception. Governance provides a platform for various stakeholders to interact regularly and maintain enterprise architecture.
An EA program definition should not span for years. It should deliver business value in a short amount of time. The program output should be actionable, and it should always have its impact measured—not its activity.
In modern EA, the Ivory Tower approach of EA governance does not work. This approach causes EA programs to fail, especially when the EA program does not consider the demands of digital business, driven by a shift in value creation to ecosystems, platforms, and outward-facing architecture. The role of EA governance in modern EA is summarized below:
- Does not focus on current state architecture
- Continues to advance EA programs to the next level of maturity
- Understands organization's business strategy, business models, and goals, and determines how EA can help deliver business value
- Does not get distracted by EA frameworks, industry reference models, governance, and EA tools
- Shifts emphasis from top-down governance to an EA “Center of Excellence”
- Adopts a continuous innovation approach to EA programs, refines each cycle
- Does not employ EA tools without an understanding of their use cases and capabilities
This content was contributed by Dr. Gopala Krishna Behara, senior enterprise architect in the GEA Practice division of Wipro. He has over 22 years of IT experience and can be reached at email@example.com. The author would like to thank Hari Kishan Burle and Raju Alluri, Wipro Technologies’ GEA Practice for providing support and their knowledge in the writing of this article.
The views expressed in this article/presentation are that of authors and Wipro does not subscribe to the substance, veracity, or truthfulness of the said opinion.