Carl Engel, CEO of Elyon Strategies, is frequently asked, “What is Enterprise Architecture?” Enterprise Architecture (EA) came out of the IT spectrum and provided analytical thinkers a framework they can use to think about the entire organization. EA provides a framework, methods and processes to understand your organization in a snapshot. EA is the structural integrity of your organization and the ability for Elyon to measure it and manage it so that you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your organization.
When you think about your organization and can identify every employee, every dollar spent, every IT system, and every product or service and you can write it all down, you probably don’t need EA. When the complexity of your organization goes beyond what you can individually document, you need a method, process and framework to be able to understand your organization in a snapshot. Most government organizations are composed of very complex structures and they have difficulty managing those structures. Once implemented, EA evolves as a discipline within your organization and can provide you with all the details about your organization. By utilizing EA, you will be able to develop a modernization and cloud adoption master plan and then work from that plan to have a successful modernization and cloud adoption journey.
Enterprise Architecture deals with the part of your government organization that most of your employees don’t see, and that’s the transformation part. The question is, “How do you transform your organization and keep it on the leading edge and not the bleeding edge?” It is important to understand that your maturity is changing and is measurable and most government organizations don’t measure their maturity levels.
According to Carl, one of the issues is how mature your organization is at transforming. To be mature means you need to be good at it and have practiced it. There’s a saying, “Good decisions come from experience.” On the flip side of that, “Experience comes from many bad decisions.” Maturity means you have made the bad decisions, you have recorded them, and created a system to not make them again. It is important to understand that your maturity in changing is measurable and most organizations don’t measure that change. Maturity means you have developed a comprehensive maturity model to measure how mature you are in all areas of your organization that transform and change. Having a comprehensive maturity model allows you to make progress and is a good way to measure your EA and your ability to transform, modernize, and begin your cloud adoption journey.
Risk mitigation is probably your most important topic when performing EA. Risk mitigation is being able to identify risks; explain the risks; and communicate them to executives, peers and the people going through the change. Specifically, risk is dealt with in EA through communication. To run your EA program, you are going to have to address risks, including the risks of investing money, time and effort in a program to change your organization, such as modernization and cloud adoption. A real risk to your organization is if the changes are not communicated or if your superiors, peers or employees do not know their roles as they apply to the changes. Another significant risk is that you will get halfway through the program and no one will listen. There is also the risk that when changes are made, the entire organization won’t adhere to those changes. One way to mitigate risks is to develop measurements through EA that show how each risk will impact the organization in terms of increased cost, processing time, and resources and clearly communicate the measurements.
When Elyon is asked why we do Enterprise Architecture, it is the business value that we talk about. It is to have the effectiveness, efficiency, agility and durability in the organization. How do we do that? By managing the costs, risks, flexibility of the organization, and the quality of the changes we make. We do that through modeling and capturing all the information about the organization, especially where changes are going to be made. The value proposition of EA is that you achieve your organization’s strategic vision and you achieve the goals you set for your organization in a very methodical approach.
The following is an example of driving out value – business value – that your executives will understand. Every year, one of our clients puts out a call letter for new projects. This will result in 45 projects that the organization needs to do, at least in the minds of the managers that presented them. Even though they knew they needed the input on projects each year, executives had the difficulty of turning down projects, and politically it was a difficult issue for the organization. By applying EA and looking at managing costs, risks, and quality of change, Elyon was able to assign criteria and prioritize each project. Based on this process, five projects were assigned the highest priority. The organization could be successful with all five projects and the projects met the organization’s strategic goals and contributed to the organization’s vision.
Because EA was used to determine project priority, the employees who submitted the other projects understood the rationale for why the five projects were selected, put their projects on the back burner, and supported the selected five to great success. This process unified the entire organization around five key projects and everyone worked together. This new unity made the organization more successful in accomplishing their strategic goals and achieving the vision they had for the organization.
Since EA addresses issues that an organization doesn’t know it has, such as enterprise debt, structural integrity, and financial drop off, you may have a difficult time selling EA. These issues are real, yet they are invisible to the regular organization. Selling EA when an organization is already busy doing major initiatives is hard because it is a forward-thinking process done in the current time. To sell EA, you must take advantage of issues that are going on in your organization that are paramount to its success. EA can address financial issues, structural issues, and IT issues. You need to determine your organization’s most critical points and look at a structured approach to address them. In our classes in pragmatic Enterprise Architecture framework, Elyon breaks down these issues and helps organizations establish a vision for their EA program.
Elyon Enterprise Strategies, Inc. is a management consulting firm specializing in business design. Our purpose is to lessen executive burdens, increase organization order, and provide organizations with more hope and success while meeting human needs. We are each client’s most trusted advisor and inspire our clients to transform complexity into enterprise success.
Bridging the gap between strategy and action
Here at Elyon, we’ve developed the ability to transform organizations through powerful processes and innovative technology. Our team helps you manage the complexities of digital transformation and overcome the struggles of long implementation cycles.
We have the experience to execute detailed transformation projects from the foundation and planning stages through to the implementation and knowledge transfer phases.