There is usually no smoke without fire; if the question arises today, it is because doubts have settled everywhere on the organizational utility of having an enterprise architecture. What real gains have been made? The definition of an EA in a large organization is a big investment and in a world of rationalization and strong competition in which we try to win our game, we must receive tangible benefits and quickly. We do not see a lot of these projects or large work definition of AE, in rare cases just a few updates are very sharp. And to say that a few years ago, some people swore their survival by the ownership of a corporate architecture. Many have started, others have followed, and most have disillusioned. So much so that we hardly talk about it today, even though the expression has almost become taboo for some people.

But what happened? Why have so many good omens flew so fast? Have there been success stories? ???

"Without EA, muddle-through companies, where business managers have to ask for information. Companies for Information Information Technology (IT) is for information. Every time there is a request for information from the business managers, the IT managers invariably have to assign a team of people to run around and collect data from different places over and over again. "


For many organizations, TOGAF has gained traction simply because it's better than doing nothing.


"Another big reason TOGAF can fail is when people take it too literally," Viswanathan said, "when people assume you have to do all of TOGAF from end to end to make it successful."

"Failure of EA initiatives is often not the failure of the EA itself. It is often the case that the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the EA team and the Chief Enterprise Architects are properly implemented. "[1]



... frameworks like TOGAF and Zachman tend to become "self-referential", where EAs spend all their efforts working with the framework instead of solving real problems.



Those EAs who truly embrace change - who work directly with business stakeholders to move their organizations to an increasingly agile state of business - will be more likely to find them adding value to their businesses.


"With the move toward digitization and mobility," he points out. "The introduction of Big Data Analytics is a game changer for EA. Truthful data provide EA with the pulse of the enterprise and its environment. "

Let's look at things from a moderate angle ...

1. The genesis of predictions: Since the publication of John Zachman in the "IBM systems journal" in 1987, the era of enterprise architecture has taken off and has been structured by various organizations: Open Group (TOGAF), Enterprise Architecture Guild, and others. Many promises then surfaced: efficiency gain, better positioning. Along the way, some of the business architecture definition work started in the 90s, but it was more in the early 2000s that the demand for enterprise architecture definition really took off.

2. The euphoria of novelty: We forget our traditional approaches: needs, scope, target, scenarios, solution, ROI: EA is first and foremost a complete and scalable solution like any other solution. 'business. Once put into the world, she must evolve with the organization in a constant way. Many have made a static "photo" that has not moved since it was put in place; the EA then becomes systematically obsolete for purposes of decision support.

3. Poorly targeted investments

a. In some cases, we have unfortunately documented excessively. Applying the rules proposed by enterprise architecture repositories in a systematic way is not a good approach because not all elements of a repository are of interest to an organization. We then develop content that will not be used.

b. In EAs to date, strong reliance has been placed on the description of the future (target 0-18 months, 18-36 months and 36-60 months) rather than the present. Indeed, enterprise architecture projects include a definition of the current (about 10% of efforts), the target (about 75% of efforts) and the transition plan or roadmap (about 15% of efforts) and this while feeding a corporate repository with all kinds of tools often disparate, not well integrated and therefore more or less effective for research.


4. And the utility in all this? Well, here we have forgotten the benefits, the ROI ... Values o dear to our customers for conventional information systems, we do not do it for enterprise architectures. And if we do, nothing incriminating, we remain quite vague on great qualitative values o not be accountable later. It was not asked!


5. And now, what do we do?

at. the current picture is not very convincing to launch new initiatives under the same conditions and it would not be propitious either ...

To bet on the future is good, but to take care of the present is even better; EI work usually includes a "knowledge base" component to provide some familiar basis for the organization and a "strategic plan" component that focuses on future projections. However, it is still in the current, in its daily operations and decisions that an organization lives most of its time: what would be the impact of merging these two business units, or splitting one, or to attack such a new market, what is the effect of such article of law on our business, which distribution channels we are most profitable, etc. The varied and all-important questions that managers, tacticians, and people of operations face from day to day. And what if the AE provided very quickly and in a simple way useful information on the basis of these questions, making people more autonomous in the resolution of their questions? There we would have an interesting ROI. A day-to-day utility with high added value.

In this perspective, is it always logical to invest as much to try to describe a hypothetical future and put so little in the knowledge of its own organization?



b. What if we reversed the paradigms and offered the organization the means to support it in its most dire needs? It would not be more appropriate? In the same initial investment envelope, if we used 75% of efforts to describe well the organization, its structure, its operations, its products, its competition, its market and that we put all this in a repository that offers powerful tools for extracting information and easily accessible by the entire organization? that we put the 25% that remains not to try to foresee a future that may never happen as we imagined, but simply trace the already visible paths that are emerging in the short term and offer to the organization tools to change course quickly if needed? I'm talking about making an organization agile and knowledgeable about what it is and what it does before becoming a fortune-teller. Would the ROIs of such an AE then not appear naturally of themselves?


c. Digital transformation brings new opportunities. Access to an almost infinite bank of useful information (Big data) and the integration of widespread intelligent interfaces (IoT) alone open up a very wide range of possibilities for organizations. Grafted intelligently continuously to an agile AE concept and more focused on business information useful to the organization would be an almost exponential explosion of intelligence that could be removed from the repository and improved.

But that's the subject of another subject ...

Un billet de Denis Boudreault, conseiller stratégique chez Multiforce

références :

[1] Angelo Andreetto, Senior Enterprise Architect for Zurich Insurance Group in Zurich, Switzerland « From EA to Enterprise architecture 3.0 »,  Ken Griesi, Chief architect, MITRE and Beryl Bellman, tenured full professor of communication, California State University Los Angeles.  “ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE SERVICE PROVISION: PATHWAYS TO VALUE”, Frampton Keith, Shanks Graeme, Tamm Toomas, Kurnia Sherah, Milton Simon.