Enterprise Architecture: A definition and implementation checklist.

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BLOG - EA ChecklistIn order to reap maximum value from the recognition that an Enterprise Architecture can provide long lasting and continuous business benefit the decision to build and use one must be made.  How to do so is where some businesses come unstuck; starting but never finishing.

To support the establishment of an Enterprise Architecture the following checklist of not necessarily sequential tasks is offered as a suggestion.

  • Commitment: Without real management commitment that the Enterprise Architecture will be used, any attempt to establish an Enterprise Architecture is doomed to failure. Too often do businesses invest time and money into building an Enterprise Architecture then fail to maintain it or apply it to making business decisions thereby rendering it worthless.
  • Capture: Collect business collateral (i.e. documents and models) that contains information that can be used to populate an Enterprise Architecture. This includes  and is not limited to:
    • Mission and Vision Statements,
    • Goals and Objectives,
    • Principles, Standards and Policies,
    • Business and IT Strategy;
    • Legislative and regulatory body requirements,
    • Business Processes,
    • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
    • Design Documents,
    • Current infrastructure and application inventories.
  • Structure: Adopt a structure or framework into which the Enterprise Architecture content will be placed. Industry standard frameworks such as The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture Framework (PEAF), Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF) [Australian Government Architecture (AGA) – an Australian variant] or Zachman can be used as a base. Alternatively, use a hybrid, picking the best features of these frameworks using whatever is regarded as suitable for the business.
  • Tooling: Identify and implement a toolset onto which the framework will be superimposed. This provides a physical repository for Enterprise Architecture content and assists in both navigation to and analysis of captured content.
  • Deconstruction and Reconstruction: Take apart the collected collateral and assign relevant content to appropriate areas within the Enterprise Architecture framework.
  • Governance: Define and apply a governance regime that ensures that information held within the Enterprise Architecture is accurate and appropriate.
  • Analysis: Explore captured Enterprise Architecture content for consistency and `fitness for purpose`. Establish whether the intent of the business mission and vision is reflected in what the business does and how it operates. Identify gaps in capability that need to be filled and areas of business activity that are not essential.
  • Compliance: Define the rules around compliance. Establish how the business should respond to initiatives or solutions that do not comply with a stated direction. Being able to deal appropriately with the inevitable exceptions is really important. Provide also standards supporting the definition of architectural components such as Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN), Universal Modelling Language (UML) or Achimate (modelling language for Enterprise Architecture).
  • Definition:  Maintaining a line of site between the business vision and its execution define a target state architecture that is supportive of realising the vision whilst complying with a set of accepted architectural principles.
  • Strategise: Construct a business and supporting IT strategy that provides a roadmap the shows how the target state will be achieved. The strategies should provide insight into how competing initiative should be prioritised.
  • Maintenance: Ensure that processes are defined an executed that keep the content held within the Enterprise Architecture up to date.
  • Usage: Integrate the Enterprise Architecture into a `Business as Usual` scenario. Only when the application of the Enterprise Architecture becomes the norm rather than the exception will its value be truly realised. Enterprise Architecture is not an overhead but a business necessity.
  • Maturation: Use the information held within the Enterprise Architecture to support:
    • An analysis of how the business is performing,
    • Identify what an how the business can be improved,
    • Assess the impact that any change, if implemented (or not), will have on the business.

With each of these activities and tasks successfully implemented the business will be in an excellent position to realise its vision.

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