Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Business Case for Enterprise Architecture

This is my 100th Blog Post!. :-). Thanks to all the readers who frequent to my blog!.

Well, Contrary to this blog post title, am not going to talk about the finer details of preparing a business case for an Enterprise Architecture initiative. Rather, I am going to talk about ‘What makes the client to ask for a Business Case?”.
Here is a little background…
Statistics assert that only 5% of the companies practice Enterprise Architecture. And Most of them are successful leaders in their businesses, not just IT.
When I attended Zachman’s conference last year, I was surprised to see Zachman being cynical about the realization of EA in the industry. He, in fact, went on to add that it may take next 10-20 years to see EA truly alive in the companies.
I am also closely watching some of the Enterprise Architects’ blogs. I don’t see convictions by looking at their blog posts titled – ‘Enterprise is a Joke’. ‘Enterprise Architects do only powerpoint presentations’. ‘There are not enough skilled architects’, etc.
In the recent past, when I was evangelizing EA among the Top IT leadership, I often get questions on ‘short-term quick hits that can be achieved by EA’. That’s a tough one to answer!
Now the question is – ‘Why there is lack of faith in IT?’
And many of us know the answer – Because, the teams often fail to deliver, despite spending lot of cash, effort and energy. The harsh reality is that IT does not believe in itself that it can deliver something significant, valuable and comprehensive.
If IT doesn’t believe in itself, How can we expect Business to believe in us to treat us like partners and not as order takers?
Now, getting to metrics…I happened to read this revealing Datamonitor whitepaper on EDS site. Though the intent of the paper is to analyze the maintenance issues Vs adopting new innovations in existing applications, I found something very relevant and interesting to our topic of discussion here.
Some of the observations are:
- IT departments that are overwhelmed by application maintenance do not see the benefit of planning
- Datamonitor believes that skepticism of these overwhelmed decision makers can be largely attributed to a sense of ‘hopelessness’ or ‘burn out’ over formalized IT strategies. Such decision makers are operating in a state of survival rather than one of enthusiastic Optimism
- IT departments see the value of planning primarily in the ‘build’ phase and not in the ‘run’ phase. They don’t really care too much about the ‘lifecycle’ of those application in the ‘planning’ phase.
- And now, this compounds the maintenance complexity and inhibits the company from embarking into new initiatives – creating a vicious cycle.

What a resounding observation!

As someone said, adopting EA is like a lifestyle change – like following a fitness regime. And that cannot be realized without discipline and commitment to change!. The problem is not with EA. But, the way we look at it!

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