What is Enterprise Architecture?

by tekwurx

At Tekwurx, we believe that if you cannot explain a subject easily, you do not understand it.

To explain what i mean, let’s consider how you would design a city.

Historically there were different types of cities such as strongholds, trading cities and harbours. The function of the city would define its form, such as where the entrances are located, how wide the streets need to be, what buildings would be suitable to meet the functional needs and so on.

Today, our cities serve multiple purposes and the days of a single-function city are long gone.

With the development of city planning, we have established certain design principles. For example, you would not place factories that produce food next to a waste processing plant but that hasn’t always been the case in practice.

Our cities have evolved, sometimes over millennia, and the best way to assess what the city is doing is to fly over it in a helicopter so that you can observe the industry, housing, infrastructure, terrain and how they relate to the people that need to live and work in the city.

This is the “As-Is” view of the city’s architecture.

What city planners do for the city is exactly what Enterprise Architects do for companies and IT.

Enterprise architecture identifies the structure and the strategy of the enterprise (the city function in our analogy).

Combining the As-Is architecture with the vision, whilst taking into account government principles and laws, available funding, space and skills the “city EA” will prepare the To-Be architecture. This will describe the desired state of the city.

In the IT world, the EA will plan (or re-design) the IT strategy to deliver the enterprise’s strategy based on the previous research. With the strategy in place, EAs will prepare an IT blueprint, AKA the To-Be architecture.

The IT blueprint will cover all aspects of IT delivery, including organisation, application, data requirements, etc.

These domains will consist of the building blocks. Each block will then be given to the solution architect who will be responsible and accountable for delivering the capabilities within the block.

EAs will oversee the delivery and operations of the blueprint design and adjust it when necessary.

This is an ongoing process that helps the organisation to ensure that IT is fit for purpose and that the funds allocated are being spent in the best possible way.

Should you consider introducing an EA practice to your organisation?

The answer to this question is not straightforward. Small organisations may not necessarily need a dedicated EA practice. Large organisations, although they should consider an EA practice, should also be careful. Incorrectly implemented EA boards tend to turn into an overgrown bureaucratic bottleneck, which does not add much value to the operations.

A useful EA practice is lean and quick. It is not too big, although the size is a relative term. Each new practice translates into an additional cost. EA, just like any other function, should be measured through a combination of KPIs.

How can Tekwurx help?

We have launched EA practices across many different industries. More importantly, we have remedied existing EA boards across different industries and cultures.

EA practices can also be used in the Solution Architecture challenges. Our architects have experience in stakeholder management and running the requirements gathering workshops. These are very useful in defining the requirements, ensuring that they have been addressed and rescuing projects at risk.