Many organizations without an effective enterprise architecture program are missing something even more fundamental: full, and fully useful, knowledge of their application portfolios. Therefore, transformation efforts as well as incremental improvements often founder when they run into unexpected complications stemming from insufficient knowledge of impacted systems and processes.
Such failures result in a lack of faith in the organization's ability to envision, plan and execute meaningful change. This in turn often leads to a cycle of action and reaction between the IT organization and the rest of the business, where function or process owners take full charge of their supporting applications and demand tactical improvements from IT, which has no choice but to fulfill them.
Changes led by business often have unexpected impacts, which in turn result in more tactical demands on IT. In the midst of this cycle, proposals for systematic enterprise architecture are often met with skepticism, since the organization has no faith in its ability to manage change.
How can leaders break this cycle and open up the possibility of effective enterprise architecture? A reasonable first step is to initiate business outcome-driven application portfolio management.
Identify a business area where significant change is anticipated, or where operational issues are negatively impacting the organization.
Inventory the applications that support that area, including their interdependencies, and rate each application for overall business and technical fit, availability, reliability, ease of use, or any set of criteria that are meaningful and accessible to the enterprise.
Work with IT delivery and end user organizations to prioritize and direct resources to feasible application improvements, migrations, replacements, or retirements that will result in significant business impact.
Some successes here may well whet the organization's appetite for more full-fledged application portfolio management, where applications are, for example, assigned lifecycle states, using models such as the Gartner Group's TIME model, and then perhaps some iterations of the TOGAF Architecture Development Method to develop and then harness an enterprise architecture capability.
Still don't know where to begin? EA Principals can provide expert consultants that can help you build and harness your organization's change management confidence and capability.
Authored By Iver Band, Senior Trainer and ArchiMate Expert