Methodologies and Technologies for Rapid Enterprise Architecture Delivery


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Issue No 13:

 Part 1 of a two-part Series that addresses Enterprise Architecture from a Senior Management Perspective. 

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Enterprise Architecture for Senior Managers - Part 1

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – October 13, 2000: We discussed the interdependence of Enterprise Architecture and Enterprise Portals in TEN#7 in September 1999. We return to the same theme in this issue, which is the first article of a two-part series that addresses Enterprise Architecture from a senior management perspective. It highlights the important role that senior managers must take to ensure Enterprise Architecture success. This issue also announces upcoming conferences and seminars that will assist you.

The second part of this series on Enterprise Architecture for senior managers will appear in the next issue of TEN, in approximately 4 weeks’ time. The complete two-part article has been drawn from a recently completed Enterprise Architecture project for senior managers of an enterprise. 

Clive Finkelstein
TEN - The Enterprise Newsletter

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The establishment of Enterprise Architecture is a vital first step for Commercial, Government or Defense enterprises that conduct e-Business in the 21st Century. Enterprise Architecture is critical for effective e-Commerce systems and databases, and for Enterprise Portals. This two-part article outlines why e-Business success is the responsibility of senior managers as well as Information Technology (IT) staff. In fact, the true success differentiator is the degree of senior management involvement in setting Enterprise Architecture directions for implementation by IT staff.

What is Enterprise Architecture?

Consider building construction, with a history of thousands of years. Over this time it was found that Architecture is an essential prerequisite for the construction of all buildings. These buildings may include residential houses, all commercial and government buildings, and skyscrapers. In fact every building, except perhaps very simple huts, can benefit from Architecture. For without proper planning and design as carried out by architects, problems can arise as follows:

  • The design or construction materials used for the building may not be adequate, and so it may fail. This failure can be in terms of quality that may lead to complete collapse.

  • The design or construction materials used for the building may in fact be adequate, but the method of construction may take longer and so cost more than it should.

  • The building may be constructed correctly, but not meet specific needs of planning authorities, or the owners and occupiers and so can represent wasted effort and cost.

  • An architect will specify standard sizes for doorways and windows so that prefabricated components can be used to reduce the time and cost of construction dramatically.

Architecture applies to other activities: the design and manufacture of airplanes for example. Airplane architecture has a history of 100 years. Without proper architecture in the design and construction of an airplane, the chance of it flying without crashing is severely compromised. This is the role of aeronautical designers and engineers, who use architecture for airplane design and construction. We would never consider flying in a plane that had not been correctly designed, tested and built.

Consider now the use of computers in business, which have a short history of only 40 years from their first use in the early 1960s until the present time. But in contrast to building or airplane construction, architecture has not been used in the building of information systems in enterprises. Because Enterprise Information Architecture (EIA) has not been used for effective planning and design of computer databases and applications, many problems arise as follows:

  • Application and database design for computer applications and databases may not be adequate, and so they may fail. This failure can be in terms of quality that may lead to complete collapse of the applications. This is a common problem today.

  • The application and database design approach may in fact be adequate, but the method of development may take longer and so cost more than it should. This also is common.

  • The application and database development approach may be correct, but the finished systems and databases may not meet the specific needs of the owner and/or end users and so can represent wasted effort and cost. This is one of the greatest problems with application and database development today.

  • An Information Architect will specify standard components for application development, so that pre-built program components can be used to reduce time and cost of application development dramatically. This is based on the use of Object-Oriented (O-O) application development, drawn from O-O analysis and design methods.

The above problems correspond to those discussed for building architecture, but have been avoided there – due to the accepted use of building architecture. The lack of Enterprise Information Architecture (EIA) for information system development, in contrast, is one reason why these problems are endemic. The use of Enterprise Information Architecture minimizes the impact of these information system development problems in enterprises.

Now consider the way that enterprises are formed and grow. Ideally, the establishment of every enterprise should be based on well–defined business plans. Business plans should reflect the Strategic Plans defined by management. These plans are analogous to an architect’s plans for the business.

A Strategic Business Plan defines the Mission, Vision and Value statements of an enterprise. Based on the industry and market focus defined by management, Policy statements are developed for the enterprise. These policies are qualitative guidelines defining boundaries of responsibility for business units or functional areas of the enterprise.

From Policies established by management for each business unit or functional area, Goals and Objectives are defined. While policies are qualitative, Goals and Objectives must be quantitative and measurable. Goals are typically long-term, while objectives are short-term. Some enterprises may reverse these – with objectives long-term and goals short-term – but the effect is the same: they must be quantitative and measurable.

Once quantitative measures are defined, alternative strategies can be evaluated. While a goal or an objective indicates “what” is to be achieved, a strategy indicates “how” that achievement will be realized.  Strategies therefore depend on goals and objectives. Strategies may have many steps involved in their execution: called Tactics.

Once a strategy or tactic is defined to achieve a goal or objective, its implementation will need to be managed. This is achieved by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) defined for each strategy or tactic. A KPI is an objective that is typically defined for implementation of specific strategies or tactics, in support of the achievement of goals or objectives by business units or functional areas. KPIs measure the performance of the managers of those business units or functional areas, whose responsibility is the effective implementation of the relevant strategies or tactics.

To define a strategy or tactic – to focus on HOW something is to be done before knowing WHAT is to be achieved – is the ultimate futility in strategic planning. It certainly generates work, but it rarely generates results. For if no measures have been defined for achievement, then no results can be assessed against those measures.

So to be quantitative and measurable, all goals and objectives must exhibit three characteristics: measure, level and time. A goal or objective statement must clearly indicate “what” is to be achieved (measure), by “how much” (level) and “when” (time).

For example, a hypothetical statement that says: “orders will be delivered promptly by courier” defines HOW orders are to be delivered, not what is to be achieved. It is therefore a strategy, not a goal or objective. On the other hand, the statement: “orders will be shipped to the customer, to arrive within 48 hours of placing the order” indicates WHAT is to be achieved.  It has the three characteristics of an objective. The measure” is defined as the “shipping delivery of an order”, the time” is defined as “within 48 hours of placing the order”, and the statement implies a level” that “100% of orders will achieve the 48 hour delivery time”.

Senior managers accept that Strategic Business Planning is their responsibility. The development of the strategic plan in many enterprises is carried out by a Corporate Planning Department, that reports directly to senior management. Effective strategic plans typically emerge in this situation. Unfortunately though, for most enterprises the strategic plans are mainly statements of strategy. They are not measurable, and so are unable to be managed precisely. Only when measurable goals and objectives are clearly defined as quantitative measures can management exercise effective management control.

Senior managers are the architects of the enterprise. Strategic Business Planning is the approach used for Enterprise Architecture (EA). Government, Commercial and Defense enterprises use strategic planning to ensure that the enterprise follows firm management directions. The Mission, Vision, Values, Policies, Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Tactics and KPIs should be statements that provide clear direction to all managers within the enterprise.

Where strategic planning is not applied effectively, management cannot be certain of the results that will be achieved by the enterprise. The enterprise then becomes very difficult to manage; few measures are available for management to assess performance achievement. The following problems typically arise in such enterprises:

  • If the strategic business plans are not well–defined or are non-existent, the enterprise has no clear direction. If not corrected in time, this failure can lead to the complete collapse or failure of the enterprise.

  • If the strategic business plans are well–defined, but not used effectively to manage all parts of the enterprise and at all levels, required business changes in the enterprise may take longer and so cost more than they should. In the rapid business change climate of today, such delays can be serious. At best they may lead to lost opportunities; but at worst they can lead to the failure of the enterprise.

  • If the strategic business plans are well–defined, but no longer meet the specific needs of the enterprise, then the business may be moving in directions that are no longer appropriate. This can represent wasted effort and cost … and once again, lost opportunities.

  • Clear strategic plans, with an understanding by management of Enterprise Architecture and its integration with Enterprise Information Architecture (EIA), can enable standard business procedures and integrated databases to be defined throughout the enterprise.  This can lead to enormous cost savings through dramatic improvements in business efficiency. For example, common procedures as well as integrated databases lead to common training of staff, easy staff reallocation due to common skills used in the business, and elimination of redundant processing otherwise needed to maintain redundant databases current and up-to-date.  

Once again, the above problems correspond to those discussed for building architecture, but were avoided there due to the accepted use of building architecture. The lack of Strategic Business Planning and the absence of Enterprise Architecture (EA) that is applied by senior management, in contrast, is one reason why many enterprises operate at less than optimum efficiency … or may even fail. The use of Strategic Business Planning and Enterprise Architecture minimizes the impact of these problems in enterprises. We can learn much from building architecture and apply similar principles to Enterprise Architecture. 

We will continue Part 2 of this article in the next issue of TEN, as a special issue due in 4 weeks. In Part 2 will discuss the importance of Architecture for Enterprises, and then cover the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture from a senior management perspective.

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Clive Finkelstein is the "Father" of Information Engineering (IE), developed by him from 1976. He is an International Consultant and Instructor, and was the Managing Director of Information Engineering Services Pty Ltd (IES) in Australia. 

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  Clive Finkelstein
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