Top 10 Things an EA Should Be Thinking About (Part 2)

A couple of months ago, we published part 1 of Top 10 Things an EA Should Be Thinking About. Now we add a few more, with considerations for the New Year. To get started, I will repeat what we said in part 1 as the means of introduction…

…Our list represents the Top Ten (or so) things that we think true Enterprise Architects should be thinking about. As always, this represents our thinking that Enterprise Architects should be focused on the whole of the enterprise, business and IT perspectives, long-term business strategy and transformation, and the impact that has on the work that needs to be done beyond the here and now. Not the kinds of things that solution architects, data architects, application architects, infrastructure architects, or security architects should be thinking about – What should ENTERPRISE architects be thinking about?

Not listed in order of importance – they are all important. Also, we would like to tell you that a typical IT-centric Enterprise Architect may not be able to answer these questions or think about them as completely as they should – in which case, they need to seek out the appropriate business and/or IT professionals to discuss these topics with from the perspective of their enterprise.

6. With increasingly creative business partnerships forming in the marketplace, how can we effectively share information and collaborate with partners while protecting business confidentiality and adhering to regulatory concerns. Are there general rules we should develop? This is a dilemma of the new century. The types of partnerships forming between suppliers and buyers, between former and even current competitors, between public entities and constituents, and between producers and consumers are primarily being created to share/consume information rather than products and services. Another factor to consider is the element of trust, as the use of information outside the enterprise boundaries may be impossible to monitor and control.

7. As Increasing amounts of information about customers, markets, transactions, sensor status, etc. flow into our company, are we able to effectively analyze that information to increase profits and/or value to our constituents?  Can we handle it, manage it, store it, protect it, etc.?  Which work processes must change or be invented to operate in the new environment?  The amount and size of data are increasing at a tremendous rate for most companies. While the hardware to move, secure and store this data is an issue in and of itself, the more pressing issue is how to utilize the information to your enterprise’s benefit. The focus needs to be on the information consumers. Who can use the information to support their work activities and/or decision making processes?

8. How does our enterprise “measure” or represent value? What are the most important factors of success to our executive leaders? Are they being measured? How can EA facilitate the achievement of those success factors? We are often asked how to measure the value of EA. Short answer: Measuring EA’s value is dependent on the measurement of value in other activities influenced by EA, and most organizations are not mature enough in their general performance management capabilities to support the ability to measure the value of EA. So the workaround is to figure out how EA can enable those factors that are most important to executives and show the indirect linkage that EA has to contributing value. But it all starts with understanding what your executives value.

9. With the current aggressive pace of marketplace and technology change, have we made the right decisions to be nimble enough to respond ahead of our competitors? How important is agility to the business and are we prepared to be innovative? How can I make the enterprise understand the need for adaptability? This is not a NEW question, by the way, as those of you who have followed us for the last 15 years know. But as time goes by and these paces continue to accelerate, these questions become even more important…as we have been saying for the last 15 years.

10. Where are the decision-making bodies and processes disconnected in our enterprise? And once you identify them, how can you create a visualization of these broken chains? EA is part of the planning and decision making ecosystem of your enterprise. Influencing decisions and plans for investments and implementations is the outcome of a well functioning EA program. In order to do this effectively, you need to identify where to influence these decisions and convince executive leadership that EA has a place in the process.

We would love to hear what are readers are thinking about in 2011. Please share with your comments.