Communication is the key to building enterprise architecture

Effective implementation of enterprise architecture requires collaboration between information technology departments and business executives, according to research firm Meta Group Inc.

During an enterprise architecture (EA) implementation teleconference on Tuesday, Meta executives stressed the importance of sharing planning responsibilities among the two groups.

“Architecture begins with developing a set of common requirements based on business strategy,” said Tim Westbrock, vice president of enterprise strategies for Stamford, Conn.-based Meta. “You can’t do it all by yourself.”

Westbrock and George Paras, vice-president and director of EA strategies for Meta, outlined three phases of a successful implementation, beginning with structuring EA transformation.

Along with developing a vision for EA transformation, IT departments must develop a business case and communication plan involving selling and marketing strategies.

“Communication doesn’t just happen,” Westbrock said. “Communication has to be planned.”

Westbrock and Paras said creating an enterprise architecture charter, and formalizing it to clarify roles and responsibilities.

“Many business leaders are realizing that through (IT) they are duplicating resources,” Paras said. “The focus here has got to be on creating business value.”

This means setting the EA in a business context and identifying a business vision for the EA transformation, according to Meta.

In the second phase, IT departments and their business partners must establish policies for governing the enterprise and outline the future of the enterprise and its impact on businesses processes, technology infrastructure and automated solutions.

“The key here is to step back, look at your business and define your future state,” Paras said. “Simply making a decision in isolation is straightforward. The problem is the culture in which these things exist is the hardest thing to change.”

Upon EA integration, the next step is delivering value by locating and closing the gaps between the current and future state of the enterprise, Westbrock and Paras said.

They stressed that future-state development is a continuous process and that EA is in a constant state of evolution.

“Organizations tend to be focused on the next change without being fully aware that that’s not the end of change,” Westbrock said.

“If you ever reach your ideal state,” Paras added, “chances are your organization is stagnant.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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