Change management is key to the long-term success of enterprise architecture (EA).
This was the feedback from the 40 delegates who attended the recent Enterprise Architecture (EA) Forum held in Hyde Park, Johannesburg. The Forum is hosted every month by Real IRM, the representative of The Open Group in South Africa, and its most recent topic was "Driving EA Change in Your Organisation".
Among the many difficulties facing an architect involved in an EA project, audience members highlighted:
* Negative stereotyping of the EA practitioner, along with lack of clear communication and cooperation – users and businesspeople often feel the EA practitioner doesn't add value, or will take their job away;
* Tension between the EA team and business. This translates to resistance and lack of buy-in and support, specifically reluctance on the part of business to provide information as to how the business actually works, and businesspeople not making themselves available for input. People tend to hide the weaknesses in the process or system from enterprise architects. But how can the enterprise architect design for improvement if he lacks a true understanding of the current reality?
* Businesspeople want EA to be relevant to them, with less of an emphasis on IT. There is therefore a clear need to take IT out of EA. EA is considered an IT discipline and usually reports to the CIO. There is a reluctance from business to make use of the services, although they can add tremendous value in terms of process optimisation, compliance, strategic planning and many other areas of the business;
* Lack of ownership of the content arising from the enterprise architecture. The EA team absolutely must obtain ownership of the architectural deliverables; and
* Lack of decision-making authority – architects are usually more in an advisory role than in a management role. Where they are in management roles they are usually vetoed on decisions due to business deadlines or budget constraints.
"A detailed, comprehensive and sustained process of change management is key to the ongoing success of the enterprise architecture," says Real IRM consulting manager Paul van der Merwe. "It needs to be sold with an evangelical fervour, and its value needs to be sold into the company consistently and with sustained passion.
"Enterprise architecture has been shown to confer the ultimate enduring competitive advantage," adds Van der Merwe, "but it is far more than a short-term project, or something done once and then forgotten. However, if the business fails to become excited, and then maintain its enthusiasm for the project, it can fail, and then the entire value is lost. This makes change management a critical part of the enterprise architecture."
Van der Merwe says it is vital for any company embracing EA to go through a detailed process which lays the foundation for a sustainable, business-appropriate enterprise architecture.
"The best enterprise architectures are those where value is delivered to the business, as early in the process as possible. This value is communicated, the business is enthused as it sees value ahead of cost, and word of mouth spreads internally, creating a virtuous feedback loop. At this point, the enterprise architecture can become sustainable, and deliver long-term value to the business."
The monthly EA Forums provides an ideal opportunity for people to network, adds Van der Merwe.