Enterprise architecture provides the foundation for successful enterprise IT initiatives. When properly designed and implemented, enterprise architecture will help business leaders achieve their goals, enabling the organization to become more responsive, efficient, and competitive.
Unfortunately, a few common mistakes can prevent an enterprise architecture from achieving the goals and objectives of its designers. In fact, a flawed business architecture can, over time, send a business in the totally wrong direction.
When developing or updating your enterprise architecture, take a step back and make sure it doesn’t fall into any of the following seven pitfalls.
1. Misalignment of EA efforts with business needs
Business leaders can design a cohesive and detailed architecture, but it won’t succeed in the long run if it isn’t focused on real business needs.
Before planning begins, Ginna Raahauge, CIO at communications infrastructure service provider Zayo, suggests gathering the company’s most impactful use cases to pressure-test the existing enterprise architecture. to find potential leaks. Make sure the use cases are relevant, she advises. “If you are having issues with order accuracy, [for example,] be sure to think about what is causing this on the front-end and the back-end and how a change in the architecture might fix this problem.
Raahauge thinks that an enterprise architecture is never really complete. “It’s living and breathing,” she says. Raahauge recommends reviewing the enterprise architecture at least once every five years. “As technology moves faster and faster, we need to be able to survive five years of technological change,” she explains.
2. Not taking a customer-centric approach
It’s important to align design initiatives with a customer-centric approach when designing an enterprise architecture, says Phillip Hattingh, vice president of business and IT consultancy Capgemini. Customer-centric KPIs for goals and outcomes should be enabled throughout the design, facilitating true omnichannel customer journeys that address both digital and physical interactions, he says. “The way the design will achieve the results desired by the organization must be clear and well communicated to support a successful transformation.”
A customer-centric approach to enterprise architecture design marks a major departure from traditional product-centric models. “A customer-centric approach will challenge the traditional model and has the potential to drive operating model changes in the future,” notes Hattingh. “By not adopting a customer-centric design, organizations can also lose market competitiveness.”
3. Failing to centralize core goals and capabilities
An enterprise architecture that fails to centralize key business goals and capabilities is bound to produce or preserve silos.
“When different offices and departments face the same challenge and deploy solutions that often overlap, they become rooted in redundant and inefficient systems that impede progress towards business goals,” warns Jonathan Benett, CTO, Digital Government Solutions , at Adobe and former entrepreneur. architect for the United States Department of Agriculture. “Furthermore, once workflows are siled, implementing any enterprise architecture becomes progressively more difficult.”
Benett says he witnessed the destructive impact of silos while he was an enterprise architect for a government agency. “Offices with the budget and human capital to address immediate issues would develop their own apps and approaches rather than creating platforms with apps that serve multiple purposes and meet inter-agency needs,” he says. . “When offices and departments work separately, they tend to oppose streamlining efforts…because they lack visibility into the benefits [of] overall business goals.
An effective way to tear down a siled enterprise architecture is to invite teams representing key business functions to catalog all of their digital tools, including apps, websites, and workforce management programs. Next, include company-wide processes and policies. Once this comprehensive catalog has been created, gaps and strengths can be identified and leveraged, Benett says. “From there, a capability-driven enterprise architecture can begin to take shape,” he notes.
4. Put technology ahead of flexibility and business goals
When developing an enterprise architecture, it’s easy to slip into a technology-centric worldview while losing sight of the business value model, says Jonathan Cook, CTO of the data and software company of Arcadia Health. “Business needs are constantly changing, and we, as technology leaders and professionals, must enable, support and accelerate this change.”
When blinded or bound by a technology-centric view, business leaders can find themselves stuck discussing the superiority of various technology approaches instead of focusing on how to meet current and future business needs. . “If we fail to provide a flexible and resilient architecture, we can prevent our organizations from competing effectively,” warns Cook. “Over the last 18 months of this pandemic, we have seen that companies able to adapt quickly to changing market conditions have been able to survive and even thrive.”
5. Getting stuck in the present
An enterprise architecture developed without anticipating future growth requirements is likely to fail. “Without a roadmap, you’ll run into limits to create efficiencies, as well as limits to support business goals,” says Liz Tluchowski, CIO/CISO of insurance brokerage World Insurance. . “You’ll also face the added expense of trying to reinvent the wheel when you find that what you’ve built doesn’t meet the operational needs of the business.”
Tluchowski recommends keeping an open mind when building any system that will likely require scalability as the business grows and/or business needs change. “Use platforms and services known for their open architecture because technology is constantly changing and there are so many things that are unpredictable even when you have a plan in place.”
6. Bypass Security
Enterprise architecture has been forced to change in recent years as the cyber threat landscape has evolved. “In the past, security was an afterthought or an afterthought,” says Chuck Everette, director of cybersecurity defense at cybersecurity technology firm Deep Instinct. “Security is now at the heart and at the forefront of enterprise architecture and design,” he notes. “Everything else is built above or around.”
Failing to include security early in the design phase of enterprise architecture is a dangerous mistake because systems, applications and data can be exposed to potential compromise, warns Bruce Young, who leads a security program. Graduate Studies in Cybersecurity Management at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. “Cyber threats are constantly increasing and successful cyberattacks against organizations occur daily, so security must be included in the enterprise architecture process from the design stage.”
Basic security considerations should take place during the design and planning phase, as well as testing and validation before final approval, says Everette, who recommends taking a security-by-design approach to software development. enterprise architecture. “Security by Design applies design prioritization based on business risks, values, and impacts of breaches and vulnerabilities.”
7. Aim for perfection
Most talented people, including those in IT and business, want to build something perfect. While perfection can be an admirable goal, it’s not a particularly good pursuit when developing an enterprise architecture, especially when future-proofing architectures or building at scale.
“It’s important, of course, but excessive rotation leads to a plethora of problems, mostly of the overbuilding and overarchitecting variety,” says Laura Thomson, vice president of engineering at the cloud service provider. Computing Fastly.
Building the perfect architecture for the business that management would like to have five years from now will lead to a massive increase in complexity and cost, warns Thomson. “This pushes delivery times, makes systems slower to build and more prone to errors and failures, and increases costs.”
Thomson suggests aiming for simply good architecture, not perfect. “The perfect system doesn’t exist,” she says. Achieving an 80% solution, in the short term, with an initial value for the company. “You can and should iterate on improvements,” adds Thomson.