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Effective Execution of Enterprise Architecture

The quality of the output is directly proportional to the quality of people who are involved

Executing Enterprise Architecture is linked with the people who perform the task.  The quality of the output is directly proportional to the quality of people who are involved irrespective of the framework that is being used.  If an organization is setting its course for transformation, Alignment or Innovation agenda, it is very important to understand and acknowledge the qualities of people involved in defining the architecture roadmap.

To provide a point of view,  I can go ahead and reflect on my experiences or I can visit again one of the frameworks for reference points.  I have chosen to try a different approach.  I am trying to evaluate the qualities of Enterprise Architecture people by taking reference from ancient Tamil Classic - Tirukural written by Thiruvalluvar.  Thiruvalluvar has written 10 couplets specifically for Ministers (in ancient times) out of 1330 couplets.  These identifies the qualities of ministers in those days who steer the King in a specific direction.  Please find my reflection based on that as described below:

Qualities

  1. Execution Qualities: EA must have the ability to evaluate the right means (transitional architectures), time and mode for any type of significant business engagement.    They bring the value not in documenting the solution or outcomes but they bring the value in eliciting and reflecting on these outcomes and then providing a recommendation that is relevant by considering various parameters - Time, Right Means and Mode of execution.
  2. Knowledge: EA must demonstrate immense knowledge, firmness and belief during the challenging times of Business Change.  This is one of the fundamental factors that differentiates EAs from the rest of the organisation because they do not get afraid of the change and in essence they should embrace being a Change Catalyst.  Hence, their focus is not only on defining the change agenda (IT, of course)  but also has to demonstrate the ability to deal and interact with the difficult parts of the organisation to ensure that they are able to see the value of this change.  Too often, lack of this skill may lead to the Business / IT silo and may further widen the gap.  So it is important to demonstrate the articulative skills augumented with the knowledge in acting as a Change Catalyst.
  3. Uncertainty: EA must acknowledge that there are people who will support their initiatives, there are people who is against their initiatives because you are attempting to change the status quo which will challenge their core identity, and people who are afraid of change will also leave.  In these cases,  EA must take the Responsibility (Note the big R - leaving it for someone to fix doesn't help.  We need to own it) to ensure that the journey is on course.    In order to do that, EA must consistently analyse, evaluate, reflect and communicate the vision and execution agenda repeatedly to the teams.
  4. Engaging Consulting Firms: Organisation embarking on Change Agenda or Transformation Agenda involving IT in some shape or form must have EA who demonstrates his ability and execution talent in the event of crisis (which may become a regular affair).  Additionally as we can see, Organisations may involve external consulting firms in which case the EA should assume the ability to distill and bring out the best of consultants during the execution journey. This is to ensure that Organisation do not lose the focus on its change agenda.
  5. Get Real: Finally,  it is not relevant or important how well we have used a specific framework to deliver the architecture unless the organisation is stepped up to adapt the recommendations.  This is where EA need to demonstrate their acumen, even when people at all levels ranging from middle management to CXOs are not ready to listen, to emphasize the facts and truth that is critical for the Organisation's change agenda.   This involves communcation through different ways and means.  Note that the success of the architecture is in its execution or realisation and not in its documented format.

Conclusion
I have given a point of view based on my experience and considering the relevant references to provide a different dimension to the architecture practice steering away from frameworks.  While the framework attempt to bring the structure to our thought process the qualities described here are essential and fundamental in order to carry out the Architecture profession deligently.

Thanks for reading...!

More Stories By Nandakumar Balasubramaniyan

Nanda is working as Principal Architect with Infosys Technologies Ltd. He brings in more than 15 years of online experience. Prior to joining Infosys, Nanda worked in Public Sector and Consulting organisations. He has been awarded as the “Consultant of the Year” in 2008 by British Computer Society for delivering business value to customers through his exceptional planning, leadership and organisational skills. He has demonstrated capabilities in developing large scale transformation from procurement to Transitional state. He holds an MBA from University of Wales.