Wednesday 11 May 2011

Enterprise Architecture start-up

The beginning of the Enterprise Architecture
A few weeks ago the project I was working for was put on hold, 7 months of my time to waste? No, definitely not, I learned a great deal on the overall organisation and had the opportunity to look into most of the companies business processes.
After the project, I started working on a proposal for Enterprise Architecture, something the company is in need of and they were looking for an Enterprise Architect anyway. I figured, I can do a lot of stuff that this new (Enterprise Architect) lad can pickup later on, who knows, I might be able to join him and work together in the space of EA.
Weeks went by and the my story became more and more clear, we only had to wait for the Enterprise Architect to arrive. In the meanwhileI I started to get in touch with people and communicate my message that EA will be there and that it will offer a great deal of guidance in our ever transforming company. I invited myself to a lot of architectural flavoured meetings and gave my recommendations for topics like SOA etc. Eventually it came to the point where I brought my message to the director level and even to the CIO who were all very interested as they saw some things that could help them with their struggling IT strategy and roadmap. It became apparent  that I had to step forward and so I did; and so the companies Enterprise Architecture journey began.

Ok, we have the attention, what now?
Right, here we are, lacking years of experience in various EA frameworks like TOGAF, Zachman, or any other (btw, used to be a software architect most of the time), however, I believe I have a number of good ideas, none of them are structured into a big master plan though. When I was in the CIO's office the other day, he asked me some questions like; we need to get our IT strategy right by the summer (in a few months), can you have the new to-be architecture ready by then. Walking out of the office I honestly had no idea if I could pull it off,  I know I'm capable, just don't know if the CIO and I are, time-wise on the same level.
So, to the drawing board. I kind of figured that we need an approach first:
  1. Communication: align on tooling, align on business language (glossaries), align diagram notations, centralize documentation and communicate as much as possible about the existence of the EA. 
  2. Guidance: Assist the architects in topics like SOA, train, educate them on the little agreements and visions that we have so far. FInd and advocate industry standards and keep an eye on industry trends.
  3. Advice: Be there for the strategical level to form an advisory body and to make recommendation. Provide architectural input as soon as possible when new projects are being conceived.
  4. Governance: I know we have to get to a pragmatic level of control, with room for creativity & innovation, how it will look like is unclear for me at the moment.
So if this is the path that we'll follow, what are the actual deliverables that are going to be produced and which of these bring the most value in the short term both to strategic, tactical and operational level? I first thought on getting a good picture of the As-Is situation, but after reading Jon's  post about "To Be or Not To Be" I changed my mind, so that's one I'll park for now. In the company, one of the "broken" things sterns from data ownership, more specifically I see teams fighting (bit strongly expressed, but you get the idea) for data and functionality for which I found a good paper from MIT "Information Politics", still have to read it though.
Right, this is the EA start-up in a nutshell, lots of reading to do though, however I feel that I need to catch up quickly to deliver some value, so need to be smart about it, but that's some food for next post :)