The traditional thinking regarding the introduction and rollout of an EA practice is to hire an outside firm to:
- first conduct an Executive Workshop to get leadership on board
- followed by conducting intense, highly compressed training in key EA standards, such as TOGAF, DODAF, or FEAF over a period of a couple of weeks
- and then…to wait for months for those trained to pass their certification exams.
In short, the above pattern, while it makes linear sense, seldom works to get traction for the EA practice within 1 year, which requires showing business value through well-defined outcomes, not just EA-centric activities.
The above pattern doesn’t respect the fact that the organization’s culture and working style will persist despite the EA training, even if the training includes guidelines on how to, at some point, create the EA vision and roadmap for payback even beyond the investments made. However, this is too often wishful thinking.
So, what is the better approach, one more likely to yield near and sustainable EA value? I suggest that it is by partnering with a small EA training and consulting organization in a well-negotiated and designed program for interweaving the training and action learning, including have that outside organization fully up to speed rapidly on all the management and transformation challenges and opportunities the key personnel tasked with rolling out EA are facing. Only then can a Program Increment style of integrated training and collaborative production of EA work products begin to show value and build sustainable traction leading to increasing maturity of the EA practice.
Such an approach certainly has its challenges, so somewhat flexible procurement guidelines need to be in place linked to negotiated partnering principles for optimum communication and collaboration between the person(s) leading the EA effort and the outside partner. One of the key principles must be that the goal is to move over time to transferring the essential architecture building blocks for success to the sponsoring organization so that it can move toward nearly complete self-sufficiency within a 2-3 year time frame, still keeping connections to the outside organization for mentoring and quality assurance, with a reduced level of effort.
The main reason to consider the above approach versus the more traditional one is that it is much more realistic, given that whatever organization is taking on EA is doing so in the midst of already being fully tasked. Therefore, engagement with EA experts has to be set up in such a way as to make them an integral part of daily activities while respecting and protecting their obligations to provide and assure strategic direction of the activities, including reporting with dashboards on the associated progress of integrating EA methods and modeling into workflows.
Authored by Dr. Steve Else, Chief Architect & Principal Instructor