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« Business architecture organization models | Main | How to become an enterprise architect? – some observations… »
Friday
Aug222008

Enterprise architecture in the strategy domain?

Computing SA carries an article that reports on Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference in Kempton Park and quotes a speaker as saying that "The chief strategy officer (CSO) should clearly have responsibility and final answerability for enterprise architecture … As long as the majority of enterprise architecture functions still reside in the IT camp, its overall value and purpose will not be delivered."

My view is that this statement confuses 2 issues.  Let me restate the first part of the statement in three parts to attempt to eliminate part of the confusion:

  • The chief strategy officer (CSO) should clearly have responsibility and final answerability for defining the enterprise operating model.  The enterprise operating model defines the macro structure of the extended enterprise, its internal and external interactions and how these deliver the organization’s purpose and goals.
  • The chief operating officer (COO) should clearly have responsibility and final answerability for implementation and operation of business processes that deliver the enterprise operating model.
  • The chief information officer (CIO) should clearly have responsibility and final answerability for implementation and operation of IT solutions that underpin the business processes.

In practical terms, only those at the working level in the business can define meaningful business processes and identify the information required to support those processes.  Therefore the definition of the business processes also resides with the COO.

Similarly, in practical terms, only those at the working level in IT can define meaningful IT solutions to support business processes and provide the information required to support those processes.  Therefore the definition of the IT solutions resides with the CIO.

As I stated in a my blog, Should IT include a business architecture function?, the skills to define business models rarely existing in the business and are often not sustained.  But they do exist and are sustained within IT because IT has a long term incentive to retain those capabilities.  This means that the IT based staff have a duty to facilitate and formalise the definitions of enterprise operating model and the business processes

These practical considerations go someway to explain why IT retains the enterprise architecture function.  This brings us to the assertion that “As long as the majority of enterprise architecture functions still reside in the IT camp, its overall value and purpose will not be delivered.”  This is clearly erroneous, so I will rephrase it “As long as the majority of enterprise architecture functions perceive their role to be to give direction to IT, its overall value and purpose will not be delivered.

The reporting line of enterprise architecture is not the issue, it is the purpose and objectives that must be clear and behaviour should follow purpose.  Which in turn, assuming that enterprise architecture lies with IT, means that CIO’s objectives must be clear and include an agenda that supports the “overall value and purpose” of enterprise architecture.

The argument that enterprise architecture should lie within business strategy has been trotted out many times over the last 10 years and possibly more.  My view is that as an organization design it commits one of the cardinal sins of enterprise architecture – in practice it is very difficult to sustain.  I suggest that instead of stroking our own egos and belly-aching about reporting lines we should get on with the job and help shape our organizations for success.

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Reader Comments (1)

Interesting question, Alan. In fact, we've got an active call for papers at Cutter IT Journal on Negotiating the Path to Business Architecture/IT Architecture Alignment -- want to join in the debate?

September 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Generali

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