Enterprise Architecture erwin Expert Blog

Guide: Enterprise Architecture Frameworks & Meta-Models

In much the same way as any building or infrastructure project requires different stakeholders and different plan views, enterprise architecture (EA) requires the same.

You wouldn’t build a house without understanding the building architecture, pipe-works, electricity plans, ground plans, all within the context of each other. It provides the plans for different views of the enterprise. Enterprise architecture frameworks describe the standard views that an organization can expect to see.

Enterprise Architecture Discipline

The discipline of EA, views an organization as an overall system of complex and intertwined systems. Effective management of such complexity and scale requires tools and approaches that architects can use. An architecture framework provides the tools and approaches necessary to abstract this information to a level of detail that is manageable.

A framework helps bring enterprise design tasks into focus and produces valuable architecture description documentation. The components of an architecture framework provide structured guidance that is divided into four main areas:

Architecture description:

How to document the enterprise as a system from different viewpoints. Each view describes one domain of the architecture; it includes those meta-types and associations that address particular concerns of interest to particular stakeholders; it may take the form of a list, a table, a chart, a diagram, or a higher level of composite of such.

Architecture notation:

How to visualize the enterprise in a standard manner. Each view can be represented by a standard depiction that is understandable and communicable to all stakeholders. one such notation is ArchiMate® from the open group.

Design method:

Processes that architects follow. Usually, an over arching enterprise architecture process, composed of phases, breaks into lower-level processes composed of finer grained activities. A process is defined by its objectives, inputs, phases (steps or activities) and outputs. Approaches, techniques, tools, principles, rules, and practices may support it. Agile architecture is one set of supporting techniques.

Team organization:

Guidance on the team structure, the governance of the team, the skills, experience and training needed. Kanban boards and agile architecture can help provide team structure, governance and best practice.

Enterprise architecture review

Types of Enterprise Architecture Framework

There are a number of popular enterprise architecture frameworks available:

  • ArchiMate – An open Group Architecture Framework – a widely used framework that includes a notation for visualizing architecture. May be used in conjunction with TOGAF®.
  • TOGAFThe Open Group Architecture Framework – a widely used framework including an architectural Development Method and standards for describing various types of architecture.
  • DoDAF – The Department of Defense Architecture Framework – the standard for defense architectures especially in the United states.
  • MoDAF – The Ministry of Defense Architecture Framework – the UK standard for defense architectures.
  • NAF – the NATO Architecture Framework – a standard adopted for NATO allies.
  • FEAF – A federal enterprise architecture framework issued by the US Federal CIO council.
  • FEA – the 2002 Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) guidance on categorizing and grouping IT investments (issued by the US Federal Office of Management and Budget).
  • Zachman Framework – a classification scheme for EA artifacts launched in the early 1980s by John Zachman – often considered the father of enterprise architecture.
  • TM FORUM – Telemanagement forum – standard reference architecture models for the telecoms industry.

Enterprise Architecture Meta-Models

A meta-model is a description of a classification of a set of things. It describes the types of things (meta-types), the rules between them (associations) and the attributes that describe them. Meta-models can usually be built to describe any type of problem or scenario.

They are often graphical and are represented by boxes and lines. Boxes indicate the metatypes and lines represent the associations. Meta-models are used by end users to express models.

In the Figure 1 meta-model example below, we could describe the relationship between a Pilot, Airline and Aircraft.

Figure 1: Meta-model

In the model in Figure 2 below, we use the meta-model to guide the construction of the model. The meta-model provides the framework within which the model can be constructed. We call the instances of the meta-types – Concepts.

Figure 2: Model

Each enterprise architecture framework will usually have an underlying meta-model that describes its meta-types and associations. An example of a meta-model for innovation management is shown here in Figure 3.

Innovation management meta-model
Figure 3: Innovation management meta-model

In Summary

This article covered the core concepts for meta-models and associations. Meta-models are the core building blocks for any architecture framework. They provide the basis for rigor and consistency for model data. Without an enterprise architecture meta-model, the whole management of enterprise architecture becomes extremely difficult.

erwin Expert Blog

The Role Of Enterprise Architecture in the Strategic Planning Process

Identifying and analyzing new ideas across the organization is the first step in the strategic planning process of successful organizations.

While portfolio management and the project management office (PMO) evaluate the initial idea, the enterprise architecture (EA) team evaluates ideas with top priority and compiles a business case for pursuing (or not pursuing) the idea.

The team examines whether the new idea contradicts or extends existing projects. It examines risk, time schedules, effects on corporate goals and how the changes would be constrained by the principles and controls of the organization.

It develops transition plans and suggests solution alternatives that describe the impact of the change, including estimates on cost, risk, resources, etc.

The business case is shared across the PMO, IT, portfolio management and the business teams to help them make an informed decision about whether to pursue the idea for implementation.

A review board can regularly review returned business cases and prioritize them based on a range of objective and subjective factors such as cost, financial return, strategic relevance, opinions of stakeholders and risk.

Business cases are then translated into initiatives and projects, which can be scheduled for execution.

Enterprise Architecture In The Strategic Planning Lifecycle

EA is often seen as bringing an ‘ivory tower’ perspective in the adoption of new ideas.

But, in the context of this new, integrated approach to strategic planning, the EA function becomes more integrated within the organization and more focused on clearly defined objectives.

The EA lifecycle process is based on the belief that the purpose of an EA is to focus on how to “Do the right things” and “Do things right.”

“Do The Right Things”

The EA team compiles and analyses structured information on the:

Internal capabilities of the organization, goals and long term strategies these capabilities support, and resources that support the goals and strategies.

The EA team reviews high priority initiatives against the capabilities and resources they affect. Initial analysis can be made on the impact of new initiatives on existing projects and whether they are in line with existing strategy.

Target state architectures can be built which deliver the details around each initiative. From these, solution alternatives assess costs, resource estimates and risk. The result is a well defined business case for that initiative.

In developing a business case, the EA team brings together silos of information from various resources, both internal and external, to sort out singular and overlapping ideas. Analysis helps sharpen the focus on key information and provide knowledge in a useful context.

This approach helps the PMO to make smarter decisions about allocating funding and resources to projects. The business case also gives stakeholders such as IT a voice in the process before it reaches the implementation stage.

EA’s role is to synthesize the information in such a way that it helps the organization focus on doing the right things and ensuring they are done the right way.

“Do Things Right”

The EA team also plays a long-term strategic role. An EA can hold information about past successes and reusable assets such as patterns along with a library of guiding principles agreed by the organization.

As new projects begin, a clear high-level overview of what the project will deliver along with any patterns and principles that must apply will be presented. In this manner, the EA acts in a governance role to ensure reuse of investment and standardization is maintained.

The improved control reduces risk and cost. As projects conclude, the output of the project will be assessed and reusable assets harvested into the architectural asset library. This provides a historical context for future decisions.

Types Of Enterprise Architect

Today’s EA practitioners fall into two primary roles:

  • Vanguard enterprise architect
  • Foundational enterprise architect

An innovation driver, the Vanguard enterprise architect deals with technology disruptions and enterprise connectivity, while the Foundational enterprise architect maintains enterprise technology and the systems of record.

The vanguard practitioner is emerging as a person with an ability to make and communicate business decisions that transcend digital business and technological disruptors.

Gartner predicts the number of these practitioners will grow considerably. The vanguard enterprise architect is an agile role by nature, dealing with constant innovation and change. The future of EA puts the enterprise architect in a leadership role by driving strategy based on business goals and drivers.

Deliverables for this emerging breed of enterprise architect include strategic guidance from the CxO-suite and downwards using the innovation and EA tools described in this book. The diverse skill set of this version of the enterprise architect links digital business, social connected-ness, and technology.

To build out these types of teams, organizations are looking to the millennial generation who have garnered these skills due to early exposure to technology and the digital world.

This is not to say that historical knowledge of EA practices and an understanding of modeling and IT structures is no longer valued, but skill sets need to evolve with business requirements. The new face of EA will succeed through fresh, big picture thinking combined with traditional application of models and data.

Today’s reality is that pretty much any capability the business innovates will require the technology department to figure out how to deliver it and at speed. This means an understanding of how this technology will not only impact its users, but the entire business ecosystem will be a highly valued contribution to the enterprise and the vanguard enterprise architect is very well positioned to deliver that value.

erwin Expert Blog

Managing Change in a Technology World with Enterprise Architecture

Today’s business world is driven by constant change. Organizations that embrace change as a constant often achieve greater success. The majority of changes to any business will require changes to its technology. Organizations often succeed or fail based on choosing the right technologies to help them embrace change, then using them in the right way.

Ensuring that the right changes are made and the impact of those changes is well understood in advance of execution is vital. While good ideas help the business grow, their implementations have caused many a company to stumble.

Why Manage Change With Enterprise Architecture?

Organizations face two major hurdles when adopting change, especially changes that are linked to technology.

First, employees often don’t have a structured mechanism to submit ideas that would improve the company and help it reach its goals. The ideas often disappear into a black hole. Employees don’t get feedback on the viability of their idea or whether it will be adopted. The result? A reduced incentive to innovate.

Secondly, a disconnect can often occur between the idea or innovation and its implementation. Delivery, or incorporation of the new ideas into daily operations using technology often gets pushed aside or considered as an afterthought. The result? Redundancies in technology and processes, the inefficient use of resources and a missed opportunity.

In large organizations, enterprise architecture (EA) has long been recognized as an effective mechanism for assessing the impact of change on an organization and making recommendations for target states that support its business objectives.

New solution architectures are also being used to successfully assess solution alternatives to support these target states.

How to Ensure Enterprise Architecture’s Success

While EA often delivers the businesses cases that justify the incorporation of ideas into operations, in reality, the EA function often still operates in an ivory tower. The group is often disconnected from the stakeholders as well as the IT projects team assigned to deliver the solution.

While the EA teams develop business cases that link the change to the greater corporate strategies, the team can suffer from a lack of commitment from the wider organization.

EA team recommendations are often ignored. As a result, ideas are adopted without the rigorous scrutiny of the idea, its execution and impact on other projects. What’s needed is an integrated approach that marries the EA team’s knowledge with a process for managing ideas and innovation.

A strategic planning approach — from assessment and impact and investment analysis through to delivery — ensures ideas are being captured, analyzed and shared in a structured process.

Feedback goes back to the originator and the right stakeholders are involved in making the right decisions about IT projects using sound business cases. This leads to both the stakeholder community and the EA community feeling empowered to make change.

A strategic planning platform brings a federated view of information from across the organization so that it can be shared. The platform is designed to help organizations analyze and prioritize ideas, feed them into enterprise architecture for analysis and compile into a business case.

With all stakeholders reviewing the information and providing feedback on proposed projects, everyone gets a voice. It gives organizations the means to systematically manage change and provide an integrated platform for everyone to understand how new ideas fit into the corporate strategy.

Not only that, this process can be executed in near real time, allowing the organization to react quickly to seize market advantage.

erwin Expert Blog

The Internet of Things Needs Enterprise Architecture Behind It

Many businesses struggle to adapt quickly enough to new technologies to stay competitive. In most cases, these failures can be attributed to a lack of foresight and planning. We addressed this issue in a blog post, stating that a revolutionary and ever changing sector such as technology, demands revolutionary processes to cope.

Benefits such as reduced business risk associated with IT; increased flexibility for business growth and restructuring; bridging the gap between business strategy and implementation; and a generally more efficient IT operation, make Enterprise Architecture great for adapting to unforeseen changes.

However it is also a great system for tackling changes we know will come. One such change is the not-so-gradual shift to a truly connected world, dubbed The Internet of Things. The Internet of Things, or IoT, describes the booming (and sometimes bonkers) world of gadgets that can communicate with the Internet.

From toasters to trainers, and from washing machines to wrenches, eventually, almost all everyday appliances could communicate with each other and the wider world.

Naysayers need not, as this phenomenon has already begun, and judging by reports stating the number of IoT devices could reach 38 billion by 2020, it’s not going to slow down either.

As with most dramatic shifts in technology, unfortunately some businesses will be lost, unable to transform and cope with new consumer demands. That’s why solid enterprise architecture foundations are so important, and potentially the difference between a business floundering in the face of change, or flourishing.

Concerns over Internet of Things

Apprehensions surrounding IoT are both widespread and valid. Users accustomed to the automation of IoT devices expect them to work consistently and with little maintenance. After all, what’s the point in an automated process you have to manually monitor for it to work?

The pressure this puts on a business is far from insignificant. The devices must be regularly updated in the back-end to reflect the constantly evolving sector in which they are a part of. This requires a level of flexibility from a business to respond to these changes quickly and accurately.

Imagine your business is a fast food chain. A customer with a smartwatch and an app for your restaurant walks into your store, triggering the app to automatically order their ‘usual’ and debit the users bank account. However, you’ve recently changed your menu, perhaps as soon as the day before, and the customers order is no longer available.

Without the foresight of good preparation and efficient systems, that customer would order something that no longer exists, be billed for that order and be left waiting for their usual order indefinitely, most likely resulting in an unhappy customer who might even think twice about using your services in the future.

Considering the internet’s scope and the breadth of data accessible in it, unhappy customers are nowhere near a worst case scenario. Due to the automated nature of the devices, most data is transferred both mutually (both ways) and automatically.

Therefore, any adopters of the technology are placing their trust into the business that the data they share is being used and stored responsibly.

But like anything connected to the internet, these devices can be subject to cyber attack, and with IoT devices penetrating a multitude of sectors, including hospitals and traffic systems to name but two, the prospect of such attacks is very worrying indeed.

The two way passage IoT devices create between business and consumer is what makes the tech so valuable. However, making that connection, also opens up avenues for third parties to exploit. This potentially leaves both the business and its customers open to a cyber attack. For large enterprises, the PR fallout alone is enough to wince at, let alone the potential loss of or duplicated and stolen data.

Enterprise Architecture Opportunities

So far, we’ve touched on the booming IoT trend, the associated risks, and how enterprise architecture systems will help overcome those.

However the relationship between IoT and EA runs much deeper than damage limitation. Due to the nature of IoT, the “things” are often goldmines of useful data. This data can be measured to review the businesses current systems, or even identify new avenues for the business in the future.

This information is invaluable when constructing your enterprise architecture roadmap, and will ensure your expectations are based on solid, fact-based-frameworks, rather than guestimates.

For businesses completely new to IoT devices, enterprise architecture will also assist in preparing for the new influx in data (of which there will be a LOT). You’ll work out how that data should be stored (securely of course), as well as which bits of data you will actually need to collect, providing better focus.

Once you start gathering said data, the leg work you put in earlier, will help you make sense of that data more quickly and work on monetizing it.

What Enterprise Architecture Will Do for You and IoT?

Leading technology research firm, Gartner, have spent a lot of time analyzing IoT. Their research director, Mike Walker had this to say: “Enterprise architects have a great opportunity to position themselves at the heart of digital businesses.

“This could take the form of establishing a business competency center that explores how the IoT can create innovative breakthroughs for the organization’s business models, products and services through rapid experimentation.”

In this case, Walker’s comments are structured to highlight what IoT can do for enterprise architects, but the sentiment is just as valid when flipped. The reason IoT puts enterprise architects in such good stead, is because they are essential to actioning the transformation smoothly.

Taking on such a huge transformation as IoT without enterprise architecture assisted foresight, is essentially going into a battle, blind, with both wrists and legs bound. All while the competition that came prepared, are already on the front line, swinging Wi-Fi detecting Hobbit swords.

But don’t fret! The purpose of this text isn’t to create panic around integrating IoT. In any case, it’s far too late for that (see: 38 billion by 2020).

On the contrary, this piece is more about highlighting those risks, so those risks can then be prepared for and managed. If you’re thinking that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Essentially, this is the first step on your enterprise architecture roadmap.

Enterprise Architecture erwin Expert Blog

Enterprise Architecture Case Study: Collaborative & Agile Enterprise Architecture at Plymouth University

Plymouth University is the 15th largest University in the UK with over 27,000 students and almost 3,000 employees. It was recently ranked 37th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015 of institutions under 50 years old. A new erwin customer, Plymouth recently selected erwin’s agile enterprise architecture solution to support a collaborative approach to IT strategy planning and architecture decision-making.

Craig Douglas, Enterprise Architect at Plymouth University, spoke about their current initiatives and selecting a new tool. Craig leads the EA function, working with stakeholders across the organization to align corporate and IT strategies, and facilitate effective change for the University and its underlying processes, information and technology assets.

EA is a relatively new function at the university?

“Yes, EA is relatively new to Plymouth University and new to most of the Higher Education sector in the UK. It was introduced by the Head of Strategy and Architecture, Adrian Hollister, with the aim of creating a window into a sustainable IT future. This included governance frameworks, security, and documentation of the as-is and to-be. Adrian formed the Enterprise Architecture Practice of Excellence and invited people throughout the University to take part and have their say.”

What role does enterprise architecture play at Plymouth University?

“For us, it’s about taking the sound ideas of the business and looking at how we can best deliver them through technology. It’s no longer technology for technology’s sake, we’re focussed on adding value, improving efficiency, increasing performance, and making best use of existing capabilities to deliver what the business is asking for.”

What challenges do you face in EA today?

“We need to ensure we fully understand what we have in terms of technology and capabilities, and we need to constantly evolve on what we have and innovate. It’s important that we can understand where everything fits together with a complete view of all relationships and interdependencies. Once we have this, we can confidently produce diagrams and analysis to share our architecture honestly with the wider University and possibly beyond. It’s important to me to share our architecture with the widest group of stakeholders as possible.”

What prompted you to look for a new enterprise architecture solution?

“We’ve been running the enterprise architecture practice for about two years now and have a team of six architects. We had been using an open source EA tool but every week the management team would make requests and we would struggle to provide the answers they needed. So we began to look for a more collaborative platform that could help us produce all the required diagrams, reports and analytics with greater agility. We tried a few products and spoke with several different software vendors and ultimately opted for erwin.”

Why did you select erwin’s Agile Enterprise Architecture platform?

“erwin ticks all the boxes for being SaaS, multi-platform, collaborative, and flexible in that the underlying metamodel can be customized. It allows us to tailor our reporting capabilities and work with all stakeholders on architecture diagrams. Previously, I had to manually re-create a lot of diagrams produced by my colleagues which wasn’t ideal. Being able to work on a tablet is a real bonus too when it comes to mobility and sharing our architecture. Overall it ticked more boxes than the other tools and it’s very competitively priced.”

What’s next for enterprise architecture at Plymouth University?

“I’m excited about getting to grips with the platform and getting results from it. Overall we’ll be focussed on working much more collaboratively in enterprise architecture. We will be utilising the tool to push towards a complete understanding of our current capabilities and inform future projects like data centre, disaster recover options alongside many other high profiles opportunities. We’ll focus on using the diagrams and analytics to manipulate the metadata to get the end results.”

Visit the Plymouth University IT Strategy & Architecture blog for their latest updates.

enterprise architecture business process

erwin Expert Blog

How Innovative Is Your Enterprise Architecture Organization?

Think back to the most recent enterprise architecture articles, blog posts or even job descriptions you’ve read, and count any that did not mention “innovation” at least once? I’m guessing that more often than not, “innovation” was tauted as a catalyst, outcome or bi-product of effective enterprise architecture in one way or another.

Now we all know this is not a new theme, but it is increasingly being emphasized as more C-level executives place innovation on the strategic agenda which has a trickle-down influence on the entire organization. And i’m not talking about it in the buzzword sense. No, i’m talking about definable, measurable, incremental and breakthrough innovation that delivers tangible results to business performance.

Agile and Innovative Enterprise Architecture

To borrow a line from this blog post by Steve Nimmons“Ask yourself how innovative your Enterprise Architecture function really is. An Agile and Innovative Enterprise Architecture function can and should drive tangible business benefits. An Enterprise Architecture function that ‘uses governance to say no’ and paralyses the business with change control will soon die (or become an irrelevance).”

In a recent post on Driving Innovation Through Enterprise Architecture, we explained how teams that embed a defined and repeatable ideation/crowdsourcing process into its operating model can solve the most complicated challenges and develop a pipeline of innovation opportunities.

Innovation in Strategic Planning Lifecycle

To achieve this, architects must engage all stakeholders across the organization to capture their ideas and input. The combined creativity of the crowd surpasses the ability of the architecture team alone to uncover new innovations. It’s then up to the EA team to evaluate the impact, value, risk, cost, strategic alignment etc. of each idea and solution in order to select the best for implementation.

In fact, Gartner recently outlined three approaches for EA teams to adopt when exploring “Complicated”, “Complex” and “Chaotic” problems/opportunities, and the different stakeholder groups you must engage to capture the required ideas and input. There’s a good explanation of the approach in this post on the UCISA EA blog (see section “Orchestrating Ideation: Creating Breakthrough Innovation Opportunities”)

When you proactively pursue innovation in such a way, coupled with the adoption of emerging technologies, IoT, 3D printing and the likes, it increases the opportunity for, and the profile of innovations driven by EA.

Innovation The New Normal In Enterprise Architecture

With significant horizontal play across the organization, our role in orchestrating ideation and engaging all stakeholders becomes significant. I wonder if we’ll soon see a growing community of Enterprise Innovation Architects? We’re already beginning to see it frequently added onto VP level titles at larger organizations.

erwin Expert Blog

University Enterprise Architecture Guiding Principles: 3 Examples

Enterprise Architecture Guiding Principles are high-level definitions of the fundamental values to guide Business Information and Technology (IT) decision-making activities. They provide a foundation for both business and IT architectures, standards and development policies.

Each EA Principle should focus on business goals and key architecture applications. They are intended to be enduring and not subject to frequent changes. However, they may be amended as the organization refocuses its mission and objectives over the long-term.

This blog post shares some real-life examples specifically from the University sector. Use them to review your own set of Principles. But before we get into all that, lets take a look at how they are formed.

Writing Enterprise Architecture Principles

Each Principle should be formally stated. What’s interesting is that the format in which they are stated can vary quite a lot between organizations; some explain in great detail following The Open Group recommendations for example, and others chose a lighter approach. Typically, Principles are made up of the elements Name, Description, Rationale, Implications.

The name should represent the essence of the principle and ideally be easy to remember. It should not reference any specific technology platform.

The description should convey the fundamental rule in a short and to-the-point manner. It should not reference any specific technology platform.

The Rationale should highlight all the business benefits achieved by adhering to the principle. It must also describe its relationship to other principles and any situations in which a principle would take priority over another if there is any conflict in the decision-making process.

This section explains how the business and IT are required to comply with the principle when it comes to resources, costs and activities. As the name suggests, it should list potential related outcomes of making decision inline with the principle.

Guiding Principles should span all Enterprise Architecture Domains and are often grouped as such:

  • Business Architecture Principles
  • Information Architecture Principles
  • Application Architecture Principles
  • Technology Architecture Principles

3 Different Examples of University Enterprise Architecture Principles

Now let’s get to the interesting bit and dig into some real life examples of EA Principles. By sharing these examples I hope to provide you with insight and inspiration for refining your own Guiding Principles. Many can be re-used across organizations, but every organization should define a set that is aligned to its specific requirements, mission and strategic direction.

I’ve selected 3 different Universities that publish their EA Principles in slightly different ways but all with the same objective of guiding decision-making to ensure IT strategy is aligned the overall goal and mission of the organization. The idea is to show the different styles, but ultimately it comes down to whatever works for each of them.

EA Principles at the University of Washington (United States)

The University of Washington defines 9 short and succinct Principles in which it uses to govern its IT decision-making. A relatively short set of rules but each is well defined in terms of its Rationale and Implications.

  • Standards Based
  • Simple
  • Scalable
  • Service Oriented
  • Strategic
  • Reliable
  • Data Driven
  • Sustainable
  • Secure

Use this link to visit the University’s EA web pages and explore in greater detail:

EA Principles at Plymouth University (United Kingdom)

Plymouth University separates its principles by EA domain as outlined above, listing 18 Guiding Principles to “inform and support the way in which Plymouth University sets about fulfilling its mission.”

Business Principles: “Provide a basis for decision making throughout the business”

  • Primacy of Principles
  • Compliance with Statutory Obligations
  • Maximize Benefit to the Enterprise
  • Information Management is Everybody’s Business
  • Business Continuity
  • Common use Applications
  • IT Responsibility

Data Principles: “Provide guidance of data use within the enterprise”

  • Data Security
  • Data is an Asset
  • Data is Shared
  • Data is Accessible
  • Data Trustee
  • Data will be Analyzable

Application Principles: “Provide guidance on the use and deployment of all IT applications”

  • Technology Independence
  • Ease of Use
  • Purchase rather than Develop

Technology Principles: “Provide guidance on the use and deployment of all IT technologies”

  • Requirements-Based Change
  • Control Technical Diversity

For the full set of principles visit the following web page:

EA Principles at Brigham Young University (United States)

Brigham Young University describes the purpose of Business Architecture Principles is to “guide developers’ approaches to technology products created for a business unit.”

  • BA is about the Business – not IT
  • BA is about Examining Processes
  • Enterprise Business Process Drive Architecture
  • BA is Reusable

The University sets out a very extensive set (too many to include here). So it’s well worth taking a quick look. For the full set of principles visit the following web page:

All the examples listed above are published online so you can read and review at your leisure.

EA for an Agile Organization

One final note – something important to add here is HOW these rules are applied to the decision making process. It’s essential for the University’s EA team to be able to act with agility and be able to effectively collaborate on EA assets with all stakeholders. Through this, architects can present just the right amount of enterprise architecture assets required by the CIO or EA Board for making decisions in a timely manner.

erwin Expert Blog

Driving Innovation through Enterprise Architecture

As organizations embark on transformation journeys and seek closer alignment of IT capabilities and business goals, most will need to become more agile in the face of a fast-changing environment. Enterprise Architecture must step up to deliver innovation through new solutions that bridge the gap from where the organization is today and where it must be tomorrow in order to remain competitive and thrive.

On this journey, Enterprise Architects face both challenges and opportunities that they shouldn’t attempt to solve in isolation. As Brian Burke stated at the Gartner EA Summit 2015 in London:

“…companies can no longer rely on a small group of big brains to do all the thinking.”

Instead, EAs should look to orchestrate ideation as part of their Enterprise Architecture efforts (Click to Tweet!). That means engaging different stakeholder communities inside the organization to capture brand new ideas, and then leveraging that input to develop innovative solutions and solve their most complex challenges.

The ability to engage the right audience and focus on answering the right questions are critical steps on the path to successfully innovating. Those EA teams with a defined and repeatable process for Innovation, that can engage the relevant stakeholder groups and focus efforts on specific goals, will achieve the best outcomes that translate into increased business performance.

Establishing Innovation Capabilities in Enterprise Architecture

Here’s our list of capabilities you need when establishing an innovation process…

Start with a Goal

By defining the desired end-result for the problem or opportunity, you ensure that all efforts aim to meet the the goal.

Build Communities of Stakeholders

By building different communities of stakeholders across the organization you can engage the right target audience for the given problem. Communities can comprise a select group of individuals, or the entire organization.

Use Idea Campaigns

Create Idea Campaign for each problem or opportunity and advertise it to the community. You can then capture news ideas for each separate question or component problem of the bigger opportunity.

Make Idea Capture Easy

It’s important to have a simple and accessible method for capturing ideas. Ideally, you should have an idea capture form that is specific to each Campaign and that only the selected Community has access to it.

Encourage Collaboration and Feedback

Allow group collaboration, feedback and scoring of ideas. The Community is often best placed to identify the most promising ideas to develop into new innovations. Feedback is also important for maximizing employee engagement in your innovation process.

Use Gamification to Maximize Engagement

Simple gamification techniques such as leaderboards and rewards make a major difference to the level of engagement in your innovation campaigns. Its a proven technique that helps motivate individuals and the crowd to contribute ideas.

Impact Analysis

You must be able to analyze the likely impact of implementing new innovations on organization. Through this you, can understand the true value, cost, risk and alignment of each new idea with the business and IT strategy.

Adopting an Innovation Culture in Enterprise Architecture

For some architects, this requires a sort of culture transformation. Many architects are focused on describing the current-state and future-state architecture and then setting out on a journey. Whilst there is good value in this, its safe to say they are missing major opportunities by not engaging the crowd to uncover new ideas and innovative solutions.

Recognizing that the digital business is in a permanent transition, EA teams are well positioned right now to drive the innovation process and capture the combined creativity of all stakeholders.

erwin Expert Blog

Four Barriers to IT Innovation

When people think about IT Innovation, many would think of a finished product; a new piece of technology or a new system. But as we know, this completely misses the mark. Innovation for an IT executive is ultimately about the processes, transformation, and achieving new business outcomes.

Innovation is increasingly on the CIOs agenda as research shows 50% want to spend more time on innovation. We’ve outlined below four common barriers that IT organizations must solve in order to capture new ideas and successfully innovate.

Challenges in Ideation

IT teams that have problems capturing ideas and feedback from its stakeholders will likely recognize the following scenarios:

  • Unclear process: The path to submitting ideas is not 100% clear or accessible to all stakeholders.
  • Vague goals: Employees are not focussed on solving or achieving a specific goal, so ideas are not aligned with the current IT strategy.
  • Lack of feedback: Contributors are unsure if their ideas are being valued or seen by the IT innovation team.

IT teams need a defined and repeatable process for capturing ideas and input from its stakeholders. Working on a campaign basis helps keep ideas aligned with current goals, while robust feedback mechanisms ensure new ideas are acknowledged.

Risk-Averse Contributors

Nobody wants to feel or be seen to fail, especially when people believe their professional reputation could be at risk. This is why many stakeholders in the IT ecosystem can be reluctant to share their ideas with the community; the fear of pursuing a bad idea that does not deliver value, or the thought of wasting time and resources.

Promoting a “no idea is a bad idea” message to stakeholders can help overcome this. And visualizing the impact of innovative ideas using Enterprise Architecture, IT teams can confidently eliminate less worthwhile concepts before investing time and resources in development and implementation.

Lack of Leadership Support

Without sufficient support from a senior business leader, employees often do not feel driven or that even that they have permission to contribute to Innovation campaigns. Clear and focussed support from the CIO, for example, helps all employees understand that they have a part to play in driving forward innovation.

Hierarchy of employee engagement

Like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, every organization should be aware of a hierarchy of employee engagement which can help innovators understand the reasons behind varying levels of engagement amongst different stakeholder communities. There are a couple of key points to be aware of;

  • Employees who feel only their basic “survival” and “security’ needs are met, are highly unlikely to engage in any innovation efforts.
  • The middle “belonging” stage and above, is made up of employees who feel they are a part of the company’s community and culture and will typically engage in innovation efforts.

Understanding the above barriers can give IT teams a head start in their IT innovation efforts. Please share your thoughts and feedback on the above using the comments section.

Enterprise Architecture erwin Expert Blog

Agile Enterprise Architecture in Higher Education

Over the last 5-10 years enterprise architecture (EA) has gained momentum in the Higher Education (or Further Education) sector, with many University and College institutions establishing an EA practice to help get on top of constantly changing and complex IT strategy and business strategy requirements.

Universities are in an especially unique situation of being both a research business and education business, with a degree of overlap between the two (researchers are also often the educators). And the added dichotomy of Universities both competing and at the same time collaborating with each other.

There are many complexities to doing EA in Higher Education, with tightening budgets, pressure to rationalize IT and related support and services. At the same time they must provide flexibility to cope with changing requirements, deliver innovative services to students and academics, and prepare for whatever is next on the horizon.

This is where agile enterprise architecture helps. But first, let’s briefly look at the current state of EA in Higher Education.

Agile enterprise architecture for universities

Enterprise Architecture in Universities

There are varying levels of EA maturity in the University/College ecosystem. Less mature organizations will often utilize Visio, Powerpoint or UML modelling tools to complete architecture-related tasks. However, there are major challenges with these tools around consistency of multiple diagrams, the effective communication and collaboration of architecture assets with stakeholders, and the timeliness of assets for use in decision making.

At the opposite end, the more mature institutions have purchased specialist tools and established an EA practice, and are using a common EA language such as ArchiMate® to build, manage and communicate assets in a consistent manner.

So what’s next for Higher Education institutions?

Adopting Agile Enterprise Architecture in Education Institutions

Every year EDUCAUSE, the non-profit organization whose mission is to advance higher education through the use of IT, publish a list of Top 10 IT Issues. One major theme from the 2015 list is the shift in Higher Education IT’s focus from technical problems to business problems, along with the growing interdependence between the IT organization and business units.

How Higher Education institutions respond to this acceleration of changing IT and business requirements is a top issue for Enterprise Architecture. To simply keep pace with the rate of change in 2015 and beyond, organizations must develop the capability to act with agility, to learn, respond and take action in shorter amounts of time.

What’s required is a new approach to enterprise architecture that’s focused on producing just the right amount of architecture assets for senior stakeholders and decision makers – communicating architecture quickly and only when it is valuable to do so for more agile IT and business decision making.

In the past, architects have often been guilty of producing detailed EA documentation but much of it providing little value to senior decision makers. Universities need to move away from this and adopt an agile enterprise architecture approach.

enterprise architecture business process