Categories
erwin Expert Blog Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise Architecture Tools – Getting Started

Many organizations start an enterprise architecture practice without a specialized enterprise architecture tool.

Instead, they rely on a blend of spreadsheets, Visio diagrams, PowerPoint files and the like.

Under normal circumstances, this approach is difficult. In times of rapid change or crisis, it isn’t viable.

Four Compelling Reasons for An Enterprise Architecture Tool

Enterprise architecture (EA) provides comprehensive documentation of systems, applications, people and processes.

Prior research we conducted reveals four key drivers in the decision to adopt a dedicated enterprise architecture tool:

1) Delay Increases Difficulty.

The use of Visio, MS Office files and even with a framework like ArchiMate is a recipe for anarchy. By getting into an enterprise architecture tool early, you minimize the hurdle of moving a lot of unstructured files and disconnected diagrams to a new repository.

Rather than procrastinate in adopting an enterprise architecture tool, choose a reliable, scalable one now to eliminate the administrative hassle of keeping up with disconnected data and diagrams.

2) Are We Too Dependent on Individuals and Keeping Their Files?

Some EA practices collapse when key people change roles or leave the organization. Who last updated our PPT
for capability X? Where is the previous version of this Visio diagram?

Why does this application have three names, depending on where I look? Are we following the same model and framework, or is each team member re-inventing the wheel? Is there an easier way to collaborate?

If any of these questions sound familiar, an enterprise architecture tool is the answer. With it, your EA practice will be able to survive inevitable staffing changes and you won’t be dependendent on an individual who might become a bottleneck or a risk. You also can eliminate the scramble to keep files and tasks lists in sync.

Enterprise architecture tool

3) File-Based EA Is Not Mature, Sustainable or Scalable.

With a tool that can be updated and changed easily, you can effortlessly scale your EA activities by adding new fields, using new diagrams, etc.

For example, you could decide to slowly start using more and more of a standard enterprise architecture framework by activating different aspects of the tool over time – something incredibly difficult to do with mismatched files.

Stop running next to the bike. Get on it instead.

4) Do I Want to Be the EA Librarian or a Well-Regarded Expert?

EA experts are valuable, so their time shouldn’t be spent correcting data errors in spreadsheets, generating PowerPoint files, or manually syncing up your latest Visio file with yet another spreadsheet.

Enterprise architects should be free to focus on revealing hidden relationships, redundancies and impact analyses. In addition, they need to be able to spot opportunities, presenting roadmaps and advising management about ways to manage innovation.

With an actual enterprise architecture tool, all relevant artifacts and supporting data are accessible in a central repository. And you know what was updated and when. Generate reports on the fly in minutes, not hours or days. Combine information from Kanbans, pivot tables, diagrams and roadmaps, adding your comments and circulating to others for their input.

The Increasing Importance of Collaborative Enterprise Architecture

In addition to its traditional role of IT governance, EA has become increasingly relevant to the wider business. In fact, Gartner says EA is becoming a “form of internal management consulting” because it provides relevant, timely insights management needs to make decisions.

While basic visualization tools and spreadsheets can and have been used, they are limited.

Generic solutions require makeshift collaborative efforts, like sharing PDF files and notes via email. When working remotely, this approach causes significant bottlenecks.

Even before the Covid-19 crisis, this sort of collaboration was becoming more difficult, as an increasing number of organizations become decentralized.

So the collaboration required to methodically and continuously measure and maintain models, frameworks and concepts as they evolve, was hindered.

That’s why enterprise architecture management is more strategic and impactful when powered by technology to centrally document and visualize EA artifacts for better decision-making, which is crucial right now.

erwin Evolve is purpose-built for strategic planning, what-if scenarios, and as-is/to-be modeling and its associated impacts.

Collaboration features are built into the tool enabling IT and business stakeholders to create, edit and collaborate on diagrams through a user-friendly interface.

With erwin Evolve, organizations can encourage the wider business to easily participate in EA/BP modeling, planning, design and deployment for a more complete perspective.

It also provides a central repository of key processes, the systems that support them, and the business continuity plans for every working environment so employees have access to the knowledge they need to operate in a clear and defined way under normal circumstances or times of crisis.

You can try erwin Evolve for yourself and keep any content you produce should you decide to buy.

Covid-19 business resources

Categories
erwin Expert Blog Enterprise Architecture

Top 3 Benefits of Enterprise Architecture

Benefits of Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture (EA) benefits modern organizations in many ways. It provides a holistic, top down view of structure and systems, making it invaluable in managing the complexities of data-driven business.

Once considered solely a function of IT, enterprise architecture has historically operated from an ivory tower. It was often siloed from the business at large, stifling the potential benefits of the holistic view it could have provided.

Now, the growing importance of EA is reflected in its evolving position in the business. Instead of being considered just a function of IT, EA now plays a leading role in bridging the gap between IT and the business.

The practice has evolved in approach, too. In the past, enterprise architecture has played a foundational, support role – largely focused with “keeping the lights on.”

Today its scope is more progressive and business outcome-focused to identify opportunities for growth and change.

As a matter of fact, Gartner has said that EA is becoming a “form of internal management consulting” because it helps define and shape business and operating models, identify risk and opportunities, and create technology roadmaps to suit.

Analyst firm Ovum also recognizes EA’s evolution, referring to today’s EA as AE, or “architect everything,” further demonstrating its newfound scope.

 

Top Three Enterprise Architecture Benefits

Of course, enterprise architecture can’t sit at the strategy table without results. Following are what we believe to be the top three benefits of enterprise architecture:

1. Manage complexity

Modern organizations are a complicated mesh of different systems and applications of varying degrees of importance and prominence.

The top-down, holistic view of an organization provided by enterprise architecture means that organizations are more able to efficiently and confidently assess such assets. For example, impact analysis might identify areas where an organization can streamline its tech stack and cut costs.

It might uncover redundancies where multiple applications address the same process.

Alternatively, impact analysis might find that a seemingly less prominent application is actual integral to operations in circumstances where leadership are considering phasing it out.

In short, enterprise architecture helps business and IT leaders capture, understand and articulate opportunities, challenges and risks – including security.

2. Supporting the creation of actionable, signature-ready EA deliverables

As well as assessing an organization’s current capabilities, the holistic, top-down view provided by enterprise architecture also helps identify gaps.

A better understanding of its enterprise architecture means an organization can make more informed investment decisions. Of course, this means organizations have a better understanding of what they should invest in.

However, it also helps them better understand when, as more pressing concerns can be identified and roadmaps can be created to reflect an organization’s priorities. 

This approach helps an organization meet its current operational demands and opportunities, whilst navigating and mitigating disruptions. It can also ensure it does this in accordance with the longer-term strategic vision of the organization.

3. Increasing agility and speeding time to value

In the era of rapidly evolving technology and rampant – often disruptive – digital transformation, the need for enterprise architecture tools is abundantly clear. Organizations with a healthy understanding of their enterprise architecture are better equipped to evaluate and implement new technology in a timely and efficient manner. 

EA tools accelerate analysis and decision support for alternative investment, rationalization, and optimization opportunities and plans and for assessing risk, change and the impact on the organization.

Maturing Enterprise Architecture

To reap such benefits of this new approach to EA, many organizations will have to work to mature their practices.

To be effective, business outcome-focused enterprise architecture needs to be consistent. It needs to be communicable and discernible. It needs to be up to date and accurate.

For many organizations, these standards have been impossible to meet as their enterprise architectures are burdened by the use of systems that were not built for purpose.

Basic visualization tools, spreadsheets and even word processors have typically played stand-in for dedicated EA solutions. The non-purpose-built systems lacked the industry standards needed to accurately capture and align business and IT elements and how they link together.

Additionally, collaboration was often marred by issues with outdated, and even disparate file versions and types. This being due to business’ lacking the systems necessary to continuously and methodically maintain models, frameworks and concepts as they evolve.

Therefore, a key milestone in maturing a modern enterprise architecture initiative, is developing a single source of truth, consistent across the enterprise. This requires the implementation of a dedicated, centralized and collaborative enterprise architecture tool, be that on-premise, or via the cloud.

Of course, such a tool should cover enterprise architecture’s legacy capabilities and expectations. Those include support for industry standard frameworks and notation, the ability to perform impact analysis and the streamlining of systems and applications.

But to mature the practice, organizations should implement an EA tool with a shared, centralized metadata repository and role-based access.

It should have the ability to share an integrated set of views and information on strategy, business capabilities, applications, information assets, technologies, etc., to help provide stakeholders with a thorough understanding of the enterprise.

Once this milestone has been met, organizations can really begin to enjoy the benefits of enterprise architecture, in the modern, data-driven business context.

If the benefits of enterprise architecture would help your business, and you’d like to be the next erwin EA success story, try erwin’s enterprise architecture and business process modeling software for free.

Categories
erwin Expert Blog

Why EA Needs to Be Part of Your Digital Transformation Strategy

Enterprise architecture (EA) isn’t dead, you’re just using it wrong. Part three of erwin’s digital transformation blog series.  

I’ll let you in on a little secret: the rumor of enterprise architecture’s demise has been greatly exaggerated. However, the truth for many of today’s fast-moving businesses is that enterprise architecture fails. But why?

Enterprise architecture is invaluable for internal business intelligence (but is rarely used for real intelligence), governance (but often has a very narrow focus), management insights (but doesn’t typically provide useful insights), and transformation and planning (ok, now we have something!).

In reality, most organizations do not leverage EA teams to their true potential. Instead they rely on consultants, trends, regulations and legislation to drive strategy.

Why does this happen?

Don’t Put Enterprise Architecture in a Corner

EA has remained in its traditional comfort zone of IT. EA is not only about IT …  but yet, EA lives within IT, focuses on IT and therefore loses its business dimension and support.

It remains isolated and is rarely, if ever, involved in:

  • Assessing, planning and running business transformation initiatives
  • Providing real, enterprise-wide insights
  • Producing actionable initiatives

Instead, it focuses on managing “stuff”:

  • Understanding existing “stuff” by gathering exhaustively detailed information
  • Running “stuff”-deployment projects
  • Managing cost “stuff”
  • “Moving to the cloud” (the solution to … everything)

Enterprise Architecture

What Prevents Enterprise Architecture from Being Successful?

There are three main reasons why EA has been pigeon-holed:

  1. Lack of trust in the available information
    • Information is mostly collected, entered and maintained manually
    • Automated data collection and connection is costly and error-prone
    • Identification of issues can be very difficult and time-consuming
  1. Lack of true asset governance and collaboration
    • Enterprise architecture becomes ring-fenced within a department
    • Few stakeholders willing to be actively involved in owning assets and be responsible for them
    • Collaboration on EA is seen as secondary and mostly focused on reports and status updates
  1. Lack of practical insights (insights, analyses and management views)
    • Too small and narrow thinking of what EA can provide
    • The few analyses performed focus on immediate questions, rarely planning and strategy
    • Collaboration on EA is seen as secondary and mostly focused on reports and status updates

Because of this, EA fails to deliver the relevant insights that management needs to make decisions – in a timely manner – and loses its credibility.

But the fact is EA should be, and was designed to be, about actionable insights leading to innovative architecture, not about only managing “stuff!”

Don’t Slow Your Roll. Elevate Your Role.

It’s clear that the role of EA in driving digital transformation needs to be elevated. It needs to be a strategic partner with the business.

According to a McKinsey report on the “Five Enterprise-Architecture Practices That Add Value to Digital Transformations,” EA teams need to:

“Translate architecture issues into terms that senior executives will understand. Enterprise architects can promote closer alignment between business and IT by helping to translate architecture issues for business leaders and managers who aren’t technology savvy. Engaging senior management in discussions about enterprise architecture requires management to dedicate time and actively work on technology topics. It also requires the EA team to explain technology matters in terms that business leaders can relate to.”

With that said, to further change the perception of EA within the organization you need to serve what management needs. To do this, enterprise architects need to develop innovative business, not IT insights, and make them dynamic. Next, enterprise architects need to gather information you can trust and then maintain.

To provide these strategic insights, you don’t need to focus on everything — you need to focus on what management wants you to focus on. The rest is just IT being IT. And, finally, you need to collaborate – like your life depends on it.

Giving Digital Transformation an Enterprise Architecture EDGE

The job of the enterprise architecture is to provide the tools and insights for the C-suite, and other business stakeholders, to help deploy strategies for business transformation.

Let’s say the CEO has a brilliant idea and wants to test it. This is EA’s sweet spot and opportunity to shine. And this is where erwin lives by providing an easy, automated way to deliver collaboration, speed and responsiveness.

erwin is about providing the right information to the right people at the right time. We are focused on empowering the forward-thinking enterprise architect by providing:

  • Superb, near real-time understanding of information
  • Excellent, intuitive collaboration
  • Dynamic, interactive dashboards (vertical and horizontal)
  • Actual, realistic, business-oriented insights
  • Assessment, planning and implementation support

Data-Driven Business Transformation

Categories
erwin Expert Blog

Enterprise Architect: A Role That Keeps Evolving

Enterprise architect is a common job title within IT organizations at large companies, but the term lacks any standard definition. Ask someone on the business side what their organization’s enterprise architects do, and you’ll likely get a response like, “They work with IT,” which is true, but also pretty vague.

What the enterprise architects at your organization do depends in large part on how the IT department is organized. At some organizations, enterprise architects work closely with the software applications in a role that some might refer to as a solution architect.

In other organizations, the role of enterprise architect might carry more traditional IT responsibilities around systems management. Other enterprise architects, especially at large organizations, might specialize in exploring how emerging technologies can be tested and later integrated into the business.

Technology research and advisory firm Gartner predicts that enterprise architects will increasingly move into an internal consultancy function within large organizations. While this use of the role is not currently widespread, it’s easy to see how it could make sense for some businesses.

If, for example, a business sets a goal to increase its website sales by 20 percent in one year’s time, meeting that goal will require that different IT and business functions work together.

The business side might tackle changes to the marketing plan and collect data about website visitors and shoppers, but ultimately they will need to collaborate with someone on the technology side to discuss how IT can help reach that goal. And that’s where an enterprise architect in the role of an internal consultant comes into play.

Each business is going to organize its enterprise architects in a way that best serves the organization and helps achieve its goals.

That’s one of the reasons the enterprise architect role has no standard definition. Most teams consist of members with broad IT experience, but each member will often have some role-specific knowledge. One team member might specialize in security, for example, and another in applications.

Like the tech industry in general, the only constant in enterprise architecture is change. Roles and titles will continue to evolve, and as the business and IT sides of the organization continue to come together in the face of digital transformation, how these teams are organized, where they report, and the types of projects they focus on are sure to change over time.

Enterprise integration architect is one role in enterprise architecture that’s on the rise. These architects specialize in integrating the various cloud and on-premise systems that are now common in the hybrid/multi-cloud infrastructures powering the modern enterprise.

Enterprise Architect: A Role That Keeps Evolving

For the Enterprise Architect, Business Experience Becomes a Valuable Commodity

Regardless of the specific title, enterprise architects need the ability to work with both their business and IT colleagues to help improve business outcomes. As enterprise architecture roles move closer to the business, those with business knowledge are becoming valuable assets. This is especially true for industry-specific business knowledge.

As industry and government compliance regulations, for example, become part of the business fabric in industries like financial services, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, many enterprise architects are developing specializations in these industries that demonstrate their understanding of the business and IT sides of these regulations.

This is important because compliance permeates every area of many of these organizations, from the enterprise architecture to the business processes, and today it’s all enabled by software. Compliance is another area where Gartner’s internal consultancy model for enterprise architects could benefit a number of organizations. The stakes are simply too high to do anything but guarantee all of your processes are compliant.

Enterprise architect is just one role in the modern organization that increasingly stands with one foot on the business side and the other in IT. As your organization navigates its digital transformation, it’s important to use tools that can do the same.

erwin, Inc.’s industry-leading tools for enterprise architecture and business process modeling use a common repository and role-based views, so business users, IT users and those who straddle the line have the visibility they need. When everyone uses the same tools and the same data, they can speak the same language, collaborate more effectively, and produce better business outcomes. That’s something the whole team can support, regardless of job title.

Business Process Modeling Use Cases

Categories
erwin Expert Blog Enterprise Architecture

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