Enterprise Architecture offers a new way of thinking about how to manage transformational business change underpinned by ICT, and is based upon a proven methodology and set of tools and techniques. It can be used in combination with other methodologies and tools, such as Prince2 and ITIL.
What separates EA from other methodologies and tools is that it provides a holistic and joined-up understanding of the business and supporting ICT, thereby aligning ICT strategy and implementation with organisation strategy. As such, EA is increasingly being established as a new business function within organisations, not necessarily within the IT department, but often as part of the business change and/or project support function, maintaining the principle that transformational business change needs to be business led rather than driven by specific systems and technologies.
The unique selling points of EA can be described as follows:
- It allows you to understand the relationships and dependencies between the layers that make up most organizations and offers a way to deliver consistency between the various elements:
- Business layer: vision, strategies, objectives, policies, information, business processes
- Service / application layer: data, services, applications
- Technology layer: infrastructure , systems, security
- It helps you to avoid managing business change projects in isolation and without context. EA crossing departmental boundaries forcing you to break away from the typical business and IT divide and silo mentality, and focus on the integration points (or boundary disputes) between different change projects, helping you to understand how these projects, collectively, contribute to the overall organisational vision, strategies and policies.
- It will ensure the ICT governance and decision making process for the prioritisation of change projects and implementation approaches is transparent and adhered to across the organisation. This will enable staff across the organisation to understand why decisions have been made as they have and encourage staff buy in as it will clearly map to the organisation’s objectives.
- It is effective at both large and small scales, it is not necessary to have mapped the whole business at every layer. Benefits come very quickly through improved shared understanding.