Enterprise architecture (EA) is the process of standardizing and organizing IT systems.
It’s right at the epicenter of digital transformation, which is reconfiguring the business landscape of today. You can think of it as a response to mounting complexities and challenges we face.
In other words, it’s your blueprint for positioning and managing your resources. Although it shares some characteristics with construction projects, the two shouldn’t be confused.
EA supports business functions such as system development, risk management, and IT project execution. It holds the key to unlocking operational efficiencies and sound decision-making. Following it as a guiding light, you gain a clear idea of how to make the most of your IT assets.
So, here the answer to the question “what is enterprise architecture?” that many people pose. Not only that but we’ll provide tips on how to leverage EA for success.
What is Enterprise Architecture Anyway?
Modernization and growth boom of in IT sector has launched EA into the mainstream.
We operate in an environment awash with innovation. AI, big data, cloud, IoT, machine learning— these are all game-changing technologies. As a result, modern information, business, and tech flows are more intertwined than ever before.
The same goes for people, data, and software, which form a matrix of intricate interrelationships. It’s clear that managing this expanded parameter no cakewalk. You cannot hope to prevail without a proven methodology by your side.
EA is just that— a uniform language, a set of best practices. It brings forth higher standardization, predictability, and consolidation. In the process, it fosters tight collaboration between IT and business teams and departments.
A magnitude of the field in front of you is vast and things can be overwhelming fast. Where does one even start? Well, it would be wise to first evaluate how your current practices and EA holds up.
You may have to seamlessly integrate legacy platforms and apps with the revamped EA. The good news is you have various means of carrying out redesign and reorganization of your systems.
Major Avenues to EA
There are a few EA planning methodologies you can use as a roadmap.
The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF) gives you a full arsenal for planning and implementation. Its main components are compliance standards, recommended software tools, and best practices. As such, TOGAF is one of the most popular approaches to EA today.
On the other hand, the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture is named after one of the EA founding fathers. It aims to offer a standardized taxonomy with six focal points and six key stakeholders. This refined system is geared toward smooth integration and optimal outputs.
Thirdly, we come across Federal Enterprise Architectural Framework (FEAF). It has established mandates for effectiveness in federal agencies. Despite having U.S. Government as a playground in mind, its creators have given businesses valuable resource to work with as well.
Finally, Gartner represents a collection of best practices many businesses were quick to adopt. Its main selling points are unparalleled flexibility and simplicity. Namely, this is a practical methodology with only a handful of moving parts (steps and techniques).
These four EA inroads are only the most acclaimed options in the market. There are some other noteworthy frameworks serving as alternatives. You have to weigh their pros and cons before making your call. Remember that what is working for others may not necessarily yield results for you.
Tools of the Trade
Next decisive facet of implementation comes in the form of software tools.
Old-school classics like PowerPoint and Microsoft Excel can still cover basic planning needs. That being said, you might want to consider various dedicated, third-party products. They help you prime advanced strategies and tactics.
We would underline the following solutions:
- Orbus Software
- Sparx Systems
- Software AG
With the market constantly expanding, the list is non-conclusive— there’s no shortage of other quality vendors. Nevertheless, the ones we mentioned are a great starting point in your hunt.
While going about it, keep an eye on essential features. These are reporting, simulations, testing, collaboration, visualization, and project management. Everything else comes as a nice-to-have.
Moving on, notice you can also go a step further with due diligence. Investigate how compatible tools are with your current assets, such as cloud and security platforms.
Upon finding the solution that best suits your specific needs, you can initiate the execution stage.
Architect Takes Center Stage
This brings us to the final point— the role of an Enterprise Architect.
This individual charts the transformation endeavor, reporting to CIO and top management. Key responsibilities revolve around designing, planning, assessing, and implementing the IT framework. Usually, they call for hands-on experience and competence with EA tech tools.
Soft skills are crucial as well, due to teamwork, leadership, and communication requirements. Likewise, architectures tend to enforce governance principles that promote open discussion.
Those who are able to offer solid proofs of expertise are highly-sought right now.
The good news is there are many different types of certifications available. Let’s just mention The Open Group Certified Architect, the TOGAF, and ITIL Master Certification. They are career jewels that make any resume shine.
A competent architect adds much value to the organization. He/she finds ways to align the architecture with business goals and facilitate the execution of strategies. This should all lead to the deployment of agile and robust IT processes.
Once these strong foundations are in place, your business is ready for the next level. It becomes capable of withstanding major challenges of today. We’re talking about rapid change, growing demands, and tech disruption.
Additionally, you have a chance to boost efficiency and productivity across the board. EA is a quick lane to gaining a powerful competitive edge.
All Systems Go
Hopefully, we answered the million-dollar question “what is enterprise architecture?”
It’s obvious this benchmark framework can do a whole lot for businesses. On the broadest level, it reminds us all that tech baseline and business growth need to go hand in hand.
More specifically, it encourages us to take a holistic view of the environment you have to navigate. So, arm yourself to teeth with knowledge and tools. Plan for the long-term and make an effort to improve governance.
Flesh out models that account for your unique business case and industry requirements. Carry out integration across hardware and software systems. Ensure your teams are on the same page and following shared methodologies.
Check out other entries to our business section for more tips and insights. Stay on top of emerging trends and latest innovations!