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.
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.
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:
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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