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Justifying Enterprise Architecture Investment

by Bunny Tharpe       • July 28, 2016

The increased frequency in organizational disruption – thanks to the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and increased focus on digital business – has made Enterprise Architecture (EA) more integral to business than ever before.

EA is needed in order to steer through such disruption to not only limit any negative fallout, but to best capitalize on the disruption, and exploit opportunity, too.

Still, acquiring the necessary funding to invest in EA in order to mature the practice can often be difficult, with reports indicating 50% of clients sourcing a new EA tool are unsuccessful in gaining approval on the first attempt.

This is surprising considering how EA benefits the organization, and the importance placed on these benefits by business leaders. Benefits such as:

  • Faster time to markets
  • Increased agility, efficiency and effectiveness
  • Uptick in innovations in the organization’s structure
  • Better alignment of business and IT
  • Reduced costs in implementing innovations
  • Reduced risk

The Enterprise Architecture domain hasn’t helped itself in this regard. The expert nature of its function is fundamentally exclusive, rather than inclusive, and historically, EA tools have reflected this.

Pitching the right tool

Enterprise Architecture’s ivory tower perception has made pitching tools difficult, as it’s hard to convince a stakeholder/business leader/decision maker of the tool’s value if they don’t fully understand how the tool is applied.

Oftentimes, the best way to pitch an idea, is to demonstrate to the person how they would be involved in its implementation. Therefore, an EA tool should be both capable of carrying out the needs of the specialists, whilst still being open enough for stakeholders to be properly involved in both the decision to buy and the use of the tool going forward.

Traditionally, this hasn’t been possible as the learning curve for EA tools alienated non experts. Even people in the industry often found the user interfaces to be unwelcoming and difficult to navigate. However, as the world has become more digitally orientated, and UI design has improved, the desire to have an EA tool that works for Architects and the relevant stakeholders can now be realized.

Corso Agile Enterprise Architecture

There are tools capable of the same high end functionality as EA’s have come to expect, as well as being user friendly enough to enable collaboration between experts and non-experts alike.

If the tool you’re evaluating has a trial period, collaborating with said stakeholders and fellow team members right off the bat is a great way to demonstrate its potential.

Pitching the tool right

The business outcome approach to EA typically assumes a business is already doing some sort of recognized EA. However, the same ideas can be applied to the pitch.

Take ‘Just Enough‘ for example. A business outcome orientated take on Enterprise Architecture where EAs aim to do ‘just enough’ EA and avoid analysis paralysis, slowing down workflows and time to markets.

When pitching the need for EA investment, Enterprise Architects could apply this principle by showing, ‘Just Enough’. Meaning, instead of spending time talking about the tool’s back end data and repository to a stakeholder that won’t be involved in it, focus on showing the results the repository will be used for.

Stakeholders want to see how an Enterprise Architecture initiative will bring the organization closer to it’s desired business outcomes, but they’re not too worried about the specifications that will have it happen.

Focus on the cost savings; on the reduced time to markets; on the increased agility in the face of change and disruption, to name a few.

The idea behind this approach is that, if we can demonstrate the value the tool will bring to the business, how it brings that value will be less important.

Leverage Established Examples

By using already established examples of EA’s merit as a proof of concept, Architects can add credibility to the pitch, by showing the real world application and the results produced.

Although every organization’s Enterprise Architecture will be unique to them, demonstrating what an EA investment has done for others is still a viable tactic.

It’s likely that many businesses will desire similar outcomes, even if the environments in which those outcomes will be planned for and achieved are different.

Examples of Enterprise Architecture in practice and how it has helped/is helping the Enterprise Architect(s) in question can be found here and here.

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