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erwin Expert Blog Enterprise Architecture

6 Steps to Building a Great Enterprise Architecture Practice

Enterprise architecture provides business and IT alignment by mapping applications, technologies and data to the value streams and business functions they support. It defines business capabilities and interdependencies as they relate to enterprise strategy, bridging the gap between ideation and implementation.

An effective enterprise architecture framework provides a blueprint for business and operating models, identifies risks and opportunities, and enables the creation of technology roadmaps. Simply put, it enables IT and business transformation by helping technology and business innovation leaders focus on achieving successful, value-driven outcomes.

As an enterprise moves and shifts, enterprise architecture is central to managing change and addressing key issues facing organizations. Today, enterprises are trying to grow and innovate – while cutting costs and managing compliance – in the midst of a global pandemic.

 

How Enterprise Architecture Guides QAD

Scott Lawson, Director of IT Architecture for QAD, which provides ERP and other adaptive, cloud-based enterprise software and services for global manufacturing companies, recently shared how he and his company use enterprise architecture for “X-ray vision into the enterprise.”

“We use the architecture of the moment, the stuff that we have in our website to understand what the enterprise is today. It is what it is today, and then we move and use that information to figure out what it’s going to be tomorrow. But we don’t have this compare and contrast because it’s a reference,” he said.

QAD uses the Zachman Framework, which is considered an “ontology” or “schema” to help organize enterprise architecture artifacts, such as documents, specifications and models, which has helped them build a strong practice.

Based on QAD’s success, Lawson explains the six steps that any organization can take to solidify its enterprise architecture:

1. Define your goals. (WHO) While Zachman poses this as the final question, QAD opted to address it first. The reason for the “why” was not only to have a vision into the enterprise, but to change it, to do something about it, to make it better and more efficient. The goal for enterprise architecture for QAD was to add visibility. They cataloged all their systems and what departments used them, and how they communicated with one another, and built a large physical map with all of the information.

2. Define the objects you will collect. (WHAT) Lawson says, “the zero step there is to determine what things you’re going to make a list of. You can’t make a list of everything.”

3. Define your team and the methods to build the pieces. (HOW) There are fundamental questions to ask: How are you going to create it? Are you going to do it manually? Are you going to buy a tool that will collect all the information? Are you going to hire consultants? What are the methods you’re going to use, and how are you going to build those pieces together? Lawson advises that enterprise architecture needs to be a consistent practice. His team does some architecture every day.

4. Define your team and stakeholders. (WHO) Who is going to be the recipient of your architecture, and who is going to be the creator of your architecture? When building a great practice, involve other departments, suggests Lawson. While his department is IT, they reach out to a lot of other departments around the company and ask them about their processes and document those processes for them.

5. Define the tools, artifacts and deliverables. (WHERE) According to Lawson, you have to define where this information is going to exist, what tools you are going to use, and what artifacts and deliverables you are going to produce. He pointed out that an artifact is different than a deliverable. It’s a single unit of things (e.g., one artifact might be a list of servers), while deliverables are typically sent out as diagrams and reports, but it’s a good idea to define them upfront.

6. Define time scale of models: As is, to be, both or one off. (WHEN) What time scale do you want? QAD does an “as-is” architecture (e.g., what is happening today). The company keeps it up to date by collecting information from multiple systems in an automated fashion.

Using erwin Evolve

QAD is an erwin Evolve customer. erwin Evolve is a full-featured, configurable set of enterprise architecture and business process modeling and analysis tools. With it, you can map IT capabilities to the business functions they support and determine how people, processes, data, technologies and applications interact to ensure alignment in achieving enterprise objectives.

With erwin Evolve you can:

  • Harmonize enterprise architecture/business process modeling capabilities for greater visibility, control and intelligence in managing any use case.
  • Quickly and easily explore model elements, links and dependencies.
  • Identify and understand the impact of changes. Increase employee education and awareness, helping maintain institutional knowledge.
  • Democratize content to facilitate broader enterprise collaboration for better decision-making.
  • Achieve faster time to actionable insights and value with integrated views across initiatives.
  • Record end-to-end processes and assign responsibilities and owners to them.
  • Improve performance and profitability with harmonized, optimized and visible processes.

To replay QAD’s session from the erwin Insights global conference on enterprise modeling and data governance and intelligence, which covers the six steps above and more about their use of enterprise architecture and erwin Evolve, click here.

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Enterprise Architecture and Business Process Modeling Tools Have Evolved

Enterprise architecture (EA) and business process (BP) modeling tools are evolving at a rapid pace. They are being employed more strategically across the wider organization to transform some of business’s most important value streams.

Recently, Glassdoor named enterprise architecture the top tech job in the UK, indicating its increasing importance to the enterprise in the tech and data-driven world.

Whether documenting systems and technology, designing processes and value streams, or managing innovation and change, organizations need flexible but powerful EA and BP tools they can rely on for collecting relevant information for decision-making.

It’s like constructing a building or even a city – you need a blueprint to understand what goes where, how everything fits together to support the structure, where you have room to grow, and if it will be feasible to knock down any walls if you need to.

 

Data-Driven Enterprise Architecture

 

Without a picture of what’s what and the interdependencies, your enterprise can’t make changes at speed and scale to serve its needs.

Recognizing this evolution, erwin has enhanced and repackaged its EA/BP platform as erwin Evolve.

The combined solution enables organizations to map IT capabilities to the business functions they support and determine how people, processes, data, technologies and applications interact to ensure alignment in achieving enterprise objectives.

These initiatives can include digital transformation, cloud migration, portfolio and infrastructure rationalization, regulatory compliance, mergers and acquisitions, and innovation management.

Regulatory Compliance Through Enterprise Architecture & Business Process Modeling Software

A North American banking group is using erwin Evolve to integrate information across the organization and provide better governance to boost business agility. Developing a shared repository was key to aligning IT systems to accomplish business strategies, reducing the time it takes to make decisions, and accelerating solution delivery.

It also operationalizes and governs mission-critical information by making it available to the wider enterprise at the right levels to identify synergies and ensure the appropriate collaboration.

EA and BP modeling are both critical for risk management and regulatory compliance, a major concern for financial services customers like the one above when it comes to ever-changing regulations on money laundering, fraud and more. erwin helps model, manage and transform mission-critical value streams across industries, as well as identify sensitive information.

Additionally, when thousands of employees need to know what compliance processes to follow, such as those associated with regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ensuring not only access to proper documentation but current, updated information is critical.

The Advantages of Enterprise Architecture & Business Process Modeling from erwin

The power to adapt the EA/BP platform leads global giants in critical infrastructure, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals to deploy what is now erwin Evolve for both EA and BP use cases. Its unique advantages are:

  • Integrated, Web-Based Modeling & Diagramming: Harmonize EA/BP capabilities with a robust, flexible and web-based modeling and diagramming interface easy for all stakeholders to use.
  • High-Performance, Scalable & Centralized Repository: See an integrated set of views for EA and BP content in a central, enterprise-strength repository capable of supporting thousands of global users.
  • Configurable Platform with Role-Based Views: Configure the metamodel, frameworks and user interface for an integrated, single source of truth with different views for different stakeholders based on their roles and information needs.
  • Visualizations & Dashboards: View mission-critical data in the central repository in the form of user-friendly automated visualizations, dashboards and diagrams.
  • Third-Party Integrations: Synchronize data with such enterprise applications as CAST, Cloud Health, RSA Archer, ServiceNow and Zendesk.
  • Professional Services: Tap into the knowledge of our veteran EA and BP consultants for help with customizations and integrations, including support for ArchiMate.

erwin Evolve 2020’s specific enhancements include web-based diagramming for non-IT users, stronger document generation and analytics, TOGAF support, improved modeling and navigation through inferred relationships, new API extensions, and modular packaging so customers can choose the components that best meet their needs.

erwin Evolve is also part of the erwin EDGE with data modeling, data catalog and data literacy capabilities for overall data intelligence.

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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.

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Managing Ideation and Innovation with Enterprise Architecture

Organizations largely recognize the need for enterprise architecture tools, yet some still struggle to communicate their value and prioritize such initiatives.

As data-driven business thrives, organizations will have to overcome these challenges because managing IT trends and emerging technologies makes enterprise architecture (EA) increasingly relevant.

“By 2021, 40 percent of organizations will use enterprise architects to help ideate new business innovations made possible by emerging technologies,” says Marcus Blosch, Vice President Analyst, Gartner.

With technology now vital to every aspect of the business, enterprise architecture tools and EA as a function help generate and evaluate ideas that move the business forward.

Every business has its own (often ad hoc) way of gathering ideas and evaluating them to see how they can be implemented and what it would take to deploy them.

But organizations can use enterprise architecture tools to bridge the gap between ideation and implementation, making more informed choices in the process.

By combining enterprise architecture tools with the EA team’s knowledge in a process for managing ideas and innovation, organizations can be more strategic in their planning.

Emerging technologies is one of the key areas in which such a process benefits an organization. The timely identification of emerging technologies can make or break a business. The more thought that goes into the planning of when and how to use emerging technologies, the better the implementation, which leads to better outcomes and greater ROI.

Gartner emphasize the value of enterprise architecture tools

Enterprise Architecture Tools: The Fabric of Your Organization

At its 2019 Gartner Enterprise Architecture & Technology Innovation Summit, Gartner identified 10 emerging and strategic technology trends that will shape IT in the coming years.

They included trends that utilize intelligence, such as autonomous things and augmented analytics; digital trends like empowered edge and immersive experiences; mesh trends like Blockchain and smart spaces; as well as broad concepts like digital ethics and privacy and quantum computing.

As these trends develop into applications or become part of your organization’s fabric, you need to think about how they can help grow your business in the near and long term. How will your business investigate their use? How will you identify the people who understand how they can be used to drive your business?

Many organizations lack a structured approach for gathering and investigating employee ideas, especially those around emerging technologies. This creates two issues:

1. When employee ideas fall into a black hole where they don’t get feedback, the employees become less engaged.

2. The emerging technology and its implementation are disconnected, which leads to silos or wasted resources.

How Enterprise Architecture Tools Help Communicate the Value of Emerging Technologies

When your enterprise architecture is aligned with your business outcomes it provides a way to help your business ideate and investigate the viability of ideas on both the technical and business level. When aligned correctly, emerging technologies can be evaluated based on how they meet business needs and what the IT organization must do to support them.

But the only way you can accurately make those determinations is by having visibility into your IT services and the application portfolio. And that’s how enterprise architecture can help communicate the value of emerging technologies in your organization.

erwin EA provides a way to quickly and efficiently understand opportunities offered by new technologies, process improvements and portfolio rationalization and translate them into an actionable strategy for the entire organization.

Take erwin EA for a free spin thanks to our secure, cloud-based trial.

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erwin Expert Blog Enterprise Architecture

Agile Enterprise Architecture for DevOps Explained …

How do organizations innovate? Taking an idea from concept to delivery requires strategic planning and the ability to execute. In the case of software development, understanding agile enterprise architecture and its relevance to DevOps is also key.

DevOps, the fusion of software development and IT operations, stems from the agile development movement. In more practical terms, it integrates developers and operations teams to improve collaboration and productivity by automating infrastructure, workflows and continuously measuring application performance.

The goal is to balance the competing needs of getting new products into production while maintaining 99.9-percent application uptime for customers in an agile manner. 

To understand this increase in complexity, we need to look at how new features and functions are applied to software delivery. The world of mobile apps, middleware and cloud deployment has reduced release cycles to days and weeks not months — with an emphasis on delivering incremental change.

Previously, a software release would occur every few months with a series of modules that were hopefully still relevant to the business goals.

The shorter, continuous-delivery lifecycle helps organizations:

  • Achieve shorter releases by incremental delivery and delivering faster innovation
  • Be more responsive to business needs by improved collaboration, better quality and more frequent releases
  • Manage the number of applications impacted by a business release by allowing local variants for a global business and continuous delivery within releases

The DevOps approach achieves this by providing an environment that:

  • Minimizes software delivery batch sizes to increase flexibility and enable continuous feedback as every team delivers features to production as they are completed
  • Replaces projects with release trains that minimize batch-waiting time to reduce lead times and waste
  • Shifts from central planning to decentralized execution with a pull philosophy, thus minimizing batch transaction cost to improve efficiency
  • Makes DevOps economically feasible through test virtualization, build automation and automated release management as we prioritize and sequence batches to maximize business value and select the right batches, sequence them in the right order, guide the implementation, track execution and make planning adjustments to maximize business value

An Approach with an Enterprise Architecture View

So far, we have only looked at the delivery aspects. So how does this approach integrate with an enterprise architecture view?

To understand this, we need to look more closely at the strategic planning lifecycle. The figure below shows how the strategic planning lifecycle supports an ‘ideas-to-delivery’ framework.

Agile Enterprise Architecture: The Strategic Planning Lifecycle

Figure 1: The strategic planning lifecycle

You can see the high-level relationship between the strategy and goals of an organization and the projects that deliver the change to meet these goals. Enterprise architecture provides the model to govern the delivery of projects in line with these goals.

However, we must ensure that any model built include ‘just-enough’ enterprise architecture to produce the right level of analysis for driving change. The agile enterprise architecture model, then, is then one that enables enough analysis to plan which projects should be undertaken and ensures full architectural governance for delivery. The last part of this is achieved by connecting to the tools used in the agile space.

Agile Enterprise Architecture: Detailed View of the Strategic Planning Lifecycle

Figure 2: Detailed view of the strategic planning lifecycle

The Agile Enterprise Architecture Lifecycle

An agile enterprise architecture has its own lifecycle with six stages.

Vision and strategy: Initially, the organization begins by revisiting its corporate vision and strategy. What things will differentiate the organization from its competitors in five years? What value propositions will it offer customers to create that differentiation? The organization can create a series of campaigns or challenges to solicit new ideas and requirements for its vision and strategy.

Value proposition: The ideas and requirements are rationalized into a value proposition that can be examined in more detail.

Resources: The company can look at what resources it needs to have on both the business side and the IT side to deliver the capabilities needed to realize the value propositions. For example, a superior customer experience might demand better internet interactions and new applications, processes, and infrastructure on which to run. Once the needs are understood, they are compared to what the organization already has. The transition planning determines how the gaps will be addressed.

Execution: With the strategy and transition plan in place, enterprise architecture execution begins. The transition plan provides input to project prioritization and planning since those projects aligned with the transition plan are typically prioritized over those that do not align. This determines which projects are funded and entered into or continue to the DevOps stage.

Guidelines: As the solutions are developed, enterprise architecture assets such as models, building blocks, rules, patterns, constraints and guidelines are used and followed. Where the standard assets aren’t suitable for a project, exceptions are requested from the governance board. These exceptions are tracked carefully. Where assets are frequently the subject of exception requests, they must be examined to see if they really are suitable for the organization.

Updates: Periodic updates to the organization’s vision and strategy require a reassessment of the to-be state of the enterprise architecture. This typically results in another look at how the organization will differentiate itself in five years, what value propositions it will offer, the capabilities and resources needed, and so on. If we’re not doing things the way we said we wanted them done, then we must ask if our target architectures are still correct. This helps keep the enterprise architecture current and useful.

Enterprise Architecture Tools for DevOps

DevOps can use a number of enterprise architecture solutions. For example, erwin’s enterprise architecture products use open standards to link to other products within the overall lifecycle. This approach integrates agile enterprise architecture with agile development, connecting project delivery with effective governance of the project lifecycle. Even if the software delivery process is agile, goals and associated business needs are linked and can be met.

To achieve this goal, a number of internal processes must be interoperable. This is a significant challenge, but one that can be met by building an internal center of excellence and finding a solution by starting small and building a working environment.

The erwin EA product line takes a rigorous approach to enterprise architecture to ensure that current and future states are published for a wider audience to consume. The erwin EA repository can be used as an enterprise continuum (in TOGAF terms).

Available as a cloud-based platform or on-premise, erwin EA solutions provide a quick and cost-effective path for launching a collaborative enterprise architecture program. With built-in support for such industry frameworks as ArchiMate® and TOGAF®,  erwin enables you to model the enterprise, capture the IT blueprint, generate roadmaps and provide meaningful insights to both technical and business stakeholders.

According to Gartner, enterprise architecture is becoming a “form of internal management consulting,” helping define and shape business and operating models, identify risks and opportunities, and then create technology roadmaps. Understanding how vision and strategy impacts enterprise architecture is important – with an overall goal of traceability from our ideas and initiatives all the way through delivery.

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