EAM Enterprise Architecture Management – Looking for Pioneers?

// IT-Outsourcing

In the pertinent media, be they digital or print, the topic of EAM (Enterprise Architecture Management) is en vogue. The CIO online portal addresses „Painful EAM project experiences“ and urges those responsible to not approach the topic too technically. CIO, there, promises to those who stick it out a „plateau of productivity“ through EAM, past the „valley of disappointments“ and the „path to enlightenment“. The German edition of „Computerworld“, Computerwoche, does not see an easy way with respect to the EAM topic and provides a comprehensive list of „Day-to-day EAM pitfalls“, where it perceives the biggest challenges in the staffing of EAM projects. To date, there is no generally accepted definition of the term „Enterprise Architecture“ / EAM. The pertinent software suppliers with their respective focal point also are not of any help in this regard. At the beginning of each and every EAM process, a detailed and individual definition of one‘s position therefore is a necessity.

Structuring of IT

Regarding the objectives IT departments are pursuing with the EAM implementation, there is a cross-framework and cross-tool consent.

Primarily, with the help of the architecture management, such position is aimed for that is necessary for mediating between technological development and the use in business processes, wherein interfaces should also be identified and reviewed carefully. Worth mentioning are also targeted, planned and well thought-out operations and the development of the IT landscape, which provides a tangible orientation framework for the future development. Therewith, many of those in charge of IT, expect to reduce the complexity of the application landscape through the reduction of over-sizing and of redundant superfluous functionalities.

But in this very technology-driven point of view it is important to never forget that Enterprise Architecture refers to more than just IT and its applications and other technical infrastructure. Rather, the organisational makeup, the business processes, the enterprise strategy and even the organisation‘s vision have to be included in the considerations as well.

Trapped IT

Many of these objectives are the natural result of the problem areas that grew in various shapes and forms over the years while operating the IT landscapes. Most CIOs and IT managers by now complain about the barely manageable complexity and the accompanying loss of overview over one‘s own IT. Quite often this is compounded by the fact that the connections between technology and business are, in part, lost. This also increases the business risks and makes the controlling of IT considerably more difficult. Yet another obstacle is the fact that quite often any form of strategic orientation is missing for (investment) decisions, which further increases the confusion factor and lets opportunities for standardising IT pass by without taking advantage of them.

As a result, IT not only remains trapped within the well-known framework of high complexity, increased costs and heteronomy (through which we distance ourselves even further from the invoked and desirable role as a business enabler time and again), but rather, any change to the IT landscape is made more difficult, in part even impossible.

Targeted Architecture Management

The step out of this situation that has been complained about for years but still has not been resolved to satisfaction is made possible by a targeted and active architecture management: an integrated view of all the relevant aspects of the enterprise landscape with ties to the business processes. And it is exactly this comprehensive approach that enables all parts of the enterprise to profit from the results of the architecture management process. Here, when dealing with Enterprise Architecture Management, it is important to take into consideration that one does not stop at using it for recording the status quo, but rather start to develop DESIRED scenarios from this CURRENT snapshot and therefore find answers to the questions: „Where do I want to be heading?“ and „How do I get there?“.

To successfully establish such an Enterprise Architecture Management at a company, several conditions need to be met. Of decisive significance are a holistic IT strategy orientation, a moving towards one another of business and IT, and the standardisation (and thereby simplification) of the IT landscape. Furthermore, in addition to the fundamental cost orientation of IT, especially those aspects of operations are of significance that have been strived for for years, such as standardisation, modularity and integrability, as well as increased flexibility.

Adverse starting conditions

Like many organisational changes, dealing with Enterprise Architecture Management quite often also starts out in an environment that is difficult for the enterprise‘s success, due to insufficient coordination between the departments and IT, organic and in part unclear IT structures and many different actors with at times differing or contradicting interests. Most of the time, this situation is aggravated by differing governance structures that on occasion can only be superficially aligned with one another, or not at all. Plus, there is the fact that longer periods have to be scheduled for the planned, strategic changes in the company and that the interventions will be clearly felt, especially in the beginning.

Holistic Approach

To successfully pursue the implementation of the Enterprise Architecture Management, several aspects are of particular relevance. As such, the endeavour can only be brought to the hoped for completion if a holistic view of the whole enterprise is applied. Modern IT landscapes feature such a complexity and are so multi-layered that only the development of an architecture as a whole will provide progress; attempts to only map parts are almost automatically doomed or require so much effort with respect to the definition and administration of interfaces that the additional effort is better invested directly in a mapping and consideration of the whole. Especially since taking into consideration the interactions between the architecture elements is a task not to be underestimated. Here, it becomes clear that EAM is a strategic instrument for the management of (IT) companies and (IT) departments and not another tactical instrument for IT controlling day-to-day operations.   

Levels of EAM

To really achieve a holistic Enterprise Architecture Management, one has to deal with the most diverse levels and/or elements of architecture management and must align those to one another in a form and fashion suitable for the organisation.

The top level is located in the area of enterprise strategy, with all its impacts on the whole enterprise. All efforts are subordinate to the vision aimed for there, and all endeavours must be aligned with it. Below the strategy, we find the leveln of specialised architecture, i. e., the mapping and analysis of the business processes and the requirements resulting from this. Located below that, in return, in the application architecture, the connection to IT and to business and the business processes takes place. On the last level, the elements of the IT infrastructure are mapped to these applications. The accompanying organisational architecture and the security architecture also have to be mapped and need to be taken into consideration. In addition, at times, a separate data architecture has to be considered and implemented bindingly.

Only the interplay and the exact interactions allow for the development of a strategic approach to management in IT.

Active instead of reactive

As result of this architecture process – and that is what the endeavour EAM must be understood as since its further development needs to be worked on continuously after its successful implementation – both the internal and the external perception of IT will change massively. The most obvious change will be the paradigm shift from an externally controlled, reactive IT to a more active IT that is influencing business activities. But aside of this IT showing more initiative, there is also the fact that a more targeted support of business objectives will be possible through its function as the connecting link between IT strategy and business strategy; the long strived for alignment of business and IT. Due to this connection of user and/or specialised department view and IT levels, all IT initiatives‘ chances of success are improved and the efficiency of the investments is increased. At the same time, Enterprise Architecture Management allows one to take a look at one‘s own IT portfolio with respect to quality aspects, the performance development and preparedness for the future as well as in terms of sourcing strategies.

In Summary

After the earlier attempts in the area of Enterprise Architecture Management in the past years, there is still some pioneer spirit required once the EAM process starts, but an EAM implementation no longer enters completely new territory. Entering into architecture management still is not trivial (and will also never be), but it is also no witchcraft once one has learned to consciously deal with the pitfalls of implementation. Our specialists from this discipline will gladly assists you with your first steps and provide you with their support after that.



Torsten Kanngiesser


Go back