A Definitive Guide to

Enterprise Architecture Tool Selection

Learn how to begin with Enterprise Architecture tool selection, essential features to look for & how modern tools help you manage IT transformations through automation and cross-collaboration.

Introduction

Moving from traditional IT solutions to modern, cloud-driven tools has become the new normal in the business sphere and companies are constantly looking for the right tools to facilitate this process. While leaders have relied on traditional planning tools like Excel, Visio, and PowerPoint in the past, today’s available technologies and the variety of projects and stakeholders underpinning digital business models require way more flexible EA management tools.

With linear IT planning becoming a thing of the past, users across industries are increasingly aware of what EAM tools can bring to the table in leading change across teams and departments. Thus, it is no longer a question of whether an updated EA approach is needed, but whether an IT architecture is good enough to support continued business competitiveness and transformation – and the critical tools that EA experts use in the process.

Read on and find out how EA management tools help you depict modular visions of your IT landscape and what to look for when choosing the right tools for your business.

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Legacy EAM tool challenges

While going through their own digitization process, some companies have to find out the hard way that their EAM legacy tools are unfit for a successful and continuous IT transformation. And the reasons are manifold.

For one, requiring a high technical aptitude, legacy EAM tools limit the potential for new, non-technical users to unlock the power of today’s modern SaaS-based solutions. Plus, the Ivory Tower mentality in IT – which is the result of old-school tooling and methodologies – is outdated and disconnected from driving business outcomes, thus blocking the integration of new technologies.

This “red tape” keeping non-IT entities and individuals at a distance, results in unreliable, manually maintained data, a lack of collaboration-based features, and high customization efforts that take time and drive up costs.

So, in order to take advantage of all the opportunities that SaaS-based applications have to offer, enterprises are advised to embrace modern EAM tools that don’t limit but enhance value creation and foster high usability with automated and intuitive features.

 

Why modern EAM tools are needed

But why exactly should traditional legacy tools be replaced with modern EA tools?

First and foremost, a multi-functional EA tool is designed for the cloud and supports the adoption of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS as well as smart governance that ensures efficiency, security, compliance in a way that is compatible with DevSecOps.

By switching to these nextgen enterprise architecture tools, any business can become cloud-native with optimal speed and maximum control. The data-driven nature of modern EA tools supports quick and seamless transformations and allows you to focus on IT business capabilities and customer journeys.

That way, you get to prioritize IT investments through the customer experience and become a product-centric organization that is driven by innovation.

Next, learn what to expect from modern EAM tools and how beneficial they are to your enterprise architecture environment.

Enterprise Architecture Success Kit

How modern EAM tools help enterprise architects

In a cloud-driven IT environment that is becoming increasingly product-centric, enterprise architects and their ability to align IT strategies with business objectives are in high demand.

However, they can only succeed at their job if they are given the right tools. EAs have to be able to provide complete IT transparency and make complex topics easy to digest for all stakeholders. In this context, a good enterprise architecture tool provides much-needed visibility and enhances usability and collaboration across a BizDevSecOps team.

Thanks to its automated processes – like the gathering of data and providing reports with more configure ability – it is much easier for an EA to relate IT growth to business outcomes.

To break down old silos in organizations and to unlock seamless experiences across all company channels, the EAM tools have to function as a single integrated platform. And with a data-driven approach and an up-to-date certainty, they help EAs create much better conditions for continuous change.

In our next section, read about the essential characteristics of EAM tools in more detail.

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Essential features of EAM tools

Today’s leading enterprise architecture tools are designed to help organizations succeed while keeping an eye on the future.

When you are looking for the best solution for your team and company, pay close attention to the following enterprise architecture tool features to help align your business goals with IT:

Fast time-to-value

An EA strategy stands and falls with the adoption of the right EAM tool and how quickly it delivers the first crop of value to an organization. Legacy tools take 3 to 6 months on average as well as a high degree of customization before an organization can expect any results.

Modern EAM tools however are more intuitive to use and yield much quicker results. They are based on best practices and a flexible data model that doesn’t require initial configuration but can still be adjusted to the needs of customers. Also, they gain valuable insights early on and have the option to adapt the model as they go.

Below are some of the characteristics of EAM tools that make them far superior to legacy tools.

  • Modern EAM tools are out-of-the-box and ready-to-use products that are easy to understand and deliver a highly usable data model based on industry best practices.
  • With little training and customization needed, their intuitive user interface supports broad product roll-outs and bridges gaps across organization silos.
  • Their pricing is consumption-based rather than user-based, meaning that costs depend on the number of applications that are stored within the repository. This concept grants access to multiple users and fosters cross-department collaboration.

Full collaboration between IT and business stakeholders

Legacy EAM tools usually require previous IT knowledge and are therefore not accessible to those without a computer science degree. Modern EAM tools on the other hand have all kinds of users in mind and feature an intuitive interface and data models that everyone can understand.

This also means that EAs are no longer alone in their “Ivory Tower”, but they are front-and-center interacting across all business capabilities as part of their daily responsibilities. The usability in modern EAM tools helps foster an extended user base that is contributing to greater data diversity. The most important characteristics are listed below.

  • Crowdsourcing EA by leveraging application owners and subject matter experts.
  • A unified language to address and optimize IT’s impact on business outcomes.
  • Customizable for individual stakeholders to quickly view and assess the information most relevant to business requirements.

Automated data discovery and report generation

One of the bigger challenges that companies face in their EA efforts, is to initially locate and gather meaningful data and find a way to keep it up to date. That’s why modern EAM tools are built with seamless integrations and automated synchronization. They provide out-of-the-box integration into the modern IT4IT ecosystem and connect data sources with low-code efforts.

It is not at all surprising that with the growing market of SaaS vendors and applications, enterprises and their departments depend on an automated SaaS discovery to ensure full visibility of all applications across the organization. This transparency is essential for optimizing usage, keeping proper entitlements, eliminating waste, and controlling cloud spend.

Furthermore, some EAM vendors even offer marketplaces where users and technology partners can exchange custom-made reports and address specific industry concerns. Below are the three main characteristics related to automation and integration in modern EAM tools.

  • Seamless integration into modern IT4IT ecosystem and a low-code integration API
  • Automated discovery of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS
  • Automated reports and diagrams that extend even further via online ecosystems

Integrated platform for Corporate IT and Product IT

In order to make sure that EAM tools function as a holistic platform and increase visibility in an environment that is continuously transforming, modern EAM tools are built with complementary links to other products. So unlike legacy EA tools, EAM tools are compatible with other solutions for SaaS and Value Stream Management and are dedicated to converging the worlds of Corporate IT and Product IT.

Different platform views within the tools help EAMs accomplish core tasks like predicting, planning and executing transformation initiatives that give an enterprise the competitive edge its leaders are looking for. Below are the final three characteristics you should look for in EAM tools.

  • Visibility of the present IT architecture and ability to roadmap the desired future-state
  • Cross-functional collaboration and expanded ownership of IT assets
  • Flexibility to stay on top and in control of the adoption of new technologies

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Recommended steps for adopting an EAM Tool

Choosing the right EAM tools and enterprise architecture tool adoption as a whole involves various steps that are aimed to ensure smooth integration and maximum benefits. Below, we’ve outlined 5 steps that you and your team should follow before, during, and after EA adoption.

  • Understanding the benefits of EAM tools: Through advanced and integrated features, EAM tools help you to uncover and avoid unmanaged IT applications that would otherwise increase your cloud spend and create potential security risks for sensitive data. Once you understand the benefits that modern EAM tools have to offer, you can focus on finding the right solution for you and your EA strategy.

  • Choosing an EAM tool based on your EA program: When opting for an EAM tool, make sure that it helps you achieve your business and IT goals. These could be application portfolio management, technology risk management, post-merger IT integration, or an overall business transformation.

  • Assessing needs of stakeholders: Since you don't want to create another IT silo, you should ask yourself what informational needs each stakeholder has and how EA can bridge knowledge gaps. Ideally, the tool will foster cross-department collaboration and optimize workflows. Stakeholders should be able to access data and drive their own analysis. On top of that, QA mechanisms will improve overall data quality.

  • Reviewing the data model of prospective EAM tools: Make sure to evaluate the data model of your prospective EAM tools. You should be able to align it with your current terminology and attributes and assign authorization roles with ease.

  • Measuring the onboarding process against goals: Once you have settled on an EAM solution that fulfills your current and foreseeable future needs, you can start with the onboarding process. It’s important to set initial goals and keep measuring the process as you go. From data mapping, imports, workspace reviews, and success KPIs – ideally, the tools allow you to use the desired form of measuring your onboarding success and keep track of the work in progress.

 

Conclusion

With SaaS adoption moving at the speed of light, companies also need to update and adjust the ways they manage their IT environment. After all, legacy tools are not built for cloud-based applications and can hardly keep up with a culture of continuous transformation and cross-department collaboration.

Modern EA tools offer their customers a long-term partnership that helps EAs with aligning EA strategy with the overall business strategy by ensuring maximum visibility and insightful data.

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Answer to frequently asked questions on Enterprise Architecture tool

What is an enterprise architecture tool?

Enterprise architecture (EA) tools are software applications used by enterprise architects to support other business and IT stakeholders in order to streamline efforts with an intelligent sharing of resources.

Modern multi-functional EA tools are designed for the cloud and support the adoption of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS as well as smart governance that ensures efficiency, security, compliance in a way that is compatible with DevSecOps.

Why do we need an enterprise architecture tool?

A modern EA tool is needed to align IT strategies with business objectives. It provides complete IT transparency and makes complex topics easy to digest for all stakeholders thanks to its automated processes.

How do I choose the best enterprise architecture tool?

Best enterprise architecture tools are designed to help organizations succeed while keeping an eye on the future. During an EA tool evaluation, you should look for modern out-of-the-box, and ready-to-use tools with intuitive user interfaces that require little training or customization. Their pricing should also be consumption-based rather than user-based which grants access to multiple users and foster cross-department collaboration.

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Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Enterprise Architecture Tools; Gilbert van der Heiden, Akshay Jhawar, Nolan Hart; 9 November 2021:This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request here. Gartner and Magic Quadrant are registered trademarks of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and are used herein with permission. All rights reserved. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in our research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.