5 Enduring Principles of Enterprise Architecture
Technology trends change quickly, and Enterprise Architects are responsible for understanding the evolving IT landscape and preparing organizations with best-in-class and proven recommendations. A well-balanced and optimal enterprise architecture is key to achieving current and future objectives, while keeping all team members in the loop as to how the organization will be structured to support these goals. In some instances, a future-proof enterprise architecture plan can even provide transparency into the ‘why’ behind an organization’s structure to help motivate employees, while eliminating ambiguity of its rationale.
Furthermore, as organizations adapt to a digital-forward world, it’s easy to be swept up in the frenzy of new and emerging platforms and frameworks. For example, eliminating enterprise data silos has been in vogue and trends have evolved to include Data Lake, Data Lakehouse, Data Mesh, Data Fabric, Data Rooms, and Data Vacation Homes. Ok, the last one is fictitious, but it sure sounds real. With all these choices, Enterprise Architects need to understand which options will offer a lasting foundation for scale and extensibility, and which options will fall short of delivering business value all while understanding the uniqueness of each company.
Key Enterprise Architecture Principles to Follow
With over 20 years of experience in helping companies establish lasting enterprise frameworks, Kenway has gathered the below insights that are useful to consider as organizations rethink their structures. Read on to learn more about these timeless principles:
1. Align Enterprise Architecture with the Business Vision and Business Objectives
The most important principle with Enterprise Architecture is to align with the business vision/objectives and thus to bridge the gap between the business and IT. This starts with understanding business capabilities and desired business capabilities to enable growth, reduce complexity and ensure compliance. Technology and framework recommendations need to align to the business, and IT cannot do this in a silo. The two sides need to work together.
A quick example: a large healthcare organization Enterprise Architecture group provided a recommendation that all the business data for claims processing (relational/structured) be put into a commoditized compute cluster in a columnar data store (non-relational/non-structured). This columnar data store was the “master data” or “golden” claims records. Thus, based off Enterprise Architecture guidance the data modeling team developed a new data model to conform to the new columnar structure and thus migrated away from the relational data that the business understood. Ultimately, business users did not want to re-invent a new data model and Enterprise Architecture did not think about data consumption and thus the solution failed to improve business outcomes. The business would not accept the new technology platform because it did not support their objectives.
Having a trusted team to help your company navigate its enterprise architecture journey will be key, especially when marrying legacy applications and current processes together to optimize business performance and development.
2. Leverage an Enterprise Architecture Framework to Clearly Understand Current State
This one seems obvious, but it cannot be emphasized enough that an Enterprise Architect should always consider how active recommendations and newly approved tools/frameworks will fit into the evolving IT landscape. There are likely many technology choices and applications that came before, and it is the Enterprise Architect’s responsibility to ensure that recommendations will create value when looking at the enterprise as a whole.
The following are industry standard Enterprise Architecture Frameworks that can be leveraged:
Keep in mind that these are frameworks, and the goal is to make it easier to implement Enterprise Architecture best practices. At Kenway Consulting, we don’t adopt every element of the framework, rather, we adapt the framework and methods to uniquely meet the needs of our clients to create value.
3. Use Boring Technology
Perhaps “proven technology” might be a more suitable recommendation than “boring technology”. Enterprise Architects should deliver proven and signature-ready recommendations. The Enterprise Architecture practice should not be the innovation incubator. Let somebody else do the initial adoption and trials. Enterprise Architects should constantly be assessing if early adopters are having good experiences with tools, frameworks, and methodologies for future consideration. So, you should use boring technology effectively to be an efficient and effective practitioner.
4. Understand Macro Technology Trends
While the Enterprise Architecture practice should not be chasing technology trends, they should absolutely stay on top of macro technology trends. Pragmatism is a key word here as sensibility and realism are a central focus to ensure a good fit for the enterprise. A few key macro technology trends at the moment include Microservice Architecture, DataOps, DevSecOps, Event-Driven Architecture, Observability and Multi-Cloud strategy. Not all the trends mentioned will automatically guarantee business value and alignment. However, they offer good starting points for consideration of enterprise structuring and redesign and impending strengths and weaknesses.
5. Strategic Planning
Enterprise Architecture should not be monolithic and slow-moving governance traps to discourage change. Rather, it should be nimble and adapt to changing business objectives. The key to effective strategic planning is an Enterprise Architecture Roadmap. The Enterprise Architecture roadmap is a strategic plan and roadmap help communicate the business benefits of any major IT change. The roadmap is also the foundation for communicating Enterprise Architecture priorities based on business vision/objectives to enable change in the future. From the roadmap the business can understand timelines and the program can be effectively managed to improve business outcomes with technology.
The Final Takeaway
These enduring Enterprise Architecture principles into your practice to ensure your organization is ready with proven recommendations to change the technology landscape with changing business priorities. Kenway Consulting can help with your Enterprise Architecture initiatives and to establish your foundation and practices for long term success. Connect with us today to learn more.
Below are some FAQs around this topic that may help provide additional clarity and context. Reach out if you have any questions.
Enterprise Architecture Framework FAQs:
What is enterprise architecture framework?
- An Enterprise Architecture framework provides principles and practices for creating and using the architecture description of a system for making long-term decisions around new design requirements and extensibility.
What is an IT strategy consultant?
- An IT strategy consultant will bridge business and IT objectives to offer solutions and assist in the development of a strategic IT plan based on the organization’s goals and objectives.
What are the different types of IT architects?
- Cloud Architect, Enterprise Architect, Data Architect, Solution Architect, Software Architect, Network Architect, Site Reliability Architect, Security Architect
What are the components of IT architecture?
- Business Architecture, Information Systems Architecture, Technology Architecture
What is the difference between enterprise architecture and IT architecture?
- Enterprise Architecture incorporates a business lens (e.g. Business Architecture) and alignment to business goals/objectives.
What is included in enterprise architecture?
- We will defer back to the above principle #1 for this question. The most important principle with Enterprise Architecture is to align with the business vision/objectives and thus to bridge the gap between the business and IT. This starts with understanding business capabilities and desired business capabilities to enable growth, reduce complexity and ensure compliance. Technology and framework recommendations needs to align to the business, and IT cannot do this in a silo. The two sides need to work together.