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Enterprise Architecture – expensive PowerPoint fluff or guiding principles for design?

A quick Internet search on Enterprise Architecture reveals mostly articles on how to set up your Enterprise Architecture Team, how to fill your Architecture Repository or vapid, powder-puff presentations containing self-help generalisations such as the following:
Info –Tech’s 10 Universal EA Principles
1. Enterprise value focus – aim to provide maximum long-term benefits to the enterprise as a whole, while optimising total cost of ownership and risks.
2. Fit for purpose – Maintain capability levels and create solutions that are fit for purpose without over-engineering them.
3. Simplicity – Choose the simplest solutions and aim to reduce operational complexity of the enterprise.
4. Managed data – Handle data creation, modification, and use enterprise-wide in compliance with our data governance policy.
5. Managed security – Manage security enterprise-wide in compliance with your security governance policy.
6. Customer ‘centricity’ – Deliver best experiences to your customers with your service and products.
7. Innovation – Seek innovative ways to utilize technology for business advantage?
8. Compliance to laws and regulations – Operate in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
9. Controlled technical diversity – Control the variety of technology platforms you use.
10. Reuse > buy > build – Maximise re-use of existing assets. If you can’t reuse, procure externally. As a last resort, build custom solutions.
Now don’t get us wrong, these are all worthy statements and goals but beyond them being spouted in meetings by David Brent-style managers or expensive consultants receiving vast sums for delivering them, what do they actually do for the organisation??? The answer is, generally, nothing.
Enterprise Architecture has become so removed from the actual day-to-day running of IT that it is left in a corner spouting inanities like an outdated 1980s self-help guru dressed in a kaftan.
So, is Enterprise Architecture a waste of time? Absolutely not. It is fundamental to how IT should be planned, run and procured in an organisation. What needs to change is the system it operates in and it needs to be held to account to deliver value.
How to do this? We suggest the following:
1. Embed Enterprise Architecture into the IT support and design teams and not as PowerPoint generating poodles responding to the CIOs whims and thought bubbles.
2. Employ or engage Enterprise Architects who have actually worked with Technology long enough to be considered as ‘experienced’, not just an intern from a large accounting firm being charged out at the same daily rate as the corporate commercial lawyer.
3. Use Enterprise Architecture as part of the continuous journey alongside management systems such as ISO27001. Take the time to understand these and operate through them;*stop making decisions based on vendor marketing, more thought bubbles or techies’* technology tick lists.
4. Use or engage the Enterprise Architect to facilitate the Enterprise Architecture process -*not to deliver the outcome. It is the use of Enterprise Architecture as a system or process of operating within your organisation that will lead to beneficial change.
5. Understand and communicate what Enterprise Architecture is to your IT teams. Give them basic training (get the Enterprise Architect to do it) on the concepts of Enterprise Architecture, how it is to be used in your organisation and get everyone taking part. You want everyone to question why and how technology is deployed and asking each other “is it worth it?”

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