Enterprise architects business-savyy change agents
TOGAF has become the framework of choice among enterprise architects, with around a third of organisations now favouring the standard processes it describes for creating architectures and driving coordinated change.
Just as ITIL has become the operations standard for service level management, and Cobit is established as one of the fundamentals for good IT governance, so TOGAF has become a standard for architecting technology and business change, a latest survey has confirmed.
Infosys has polled CIOs, chief architects and business and IT managers for the past three years for their attitudes towards enterprise architecture, and has just found that TOGAF is the preferred EA framework for 32% or organisations as an action-oriented change planning. As such, its uses surpasses alternatives such as Zachman and FEAF in terms of overall adoption.
TOGAF has been developed by the Architecture Forum of The Open Group and has continuously evolved since the mid-1990’s. With the latest release of TOGAF 9 efforts have been made to use the architectural framework as a bridge to make the connection between business side planning and enterprise IT strategy making.
The role of the enterprise architect appears to have evolved in step with TOGAF’s development, even in the short time that Infosys has carried out its annual census of enterprise sentiment toward the discipline.
Sohel Aziz, Global Enterprise Architecture Practice Leader for the Infosys in Europe said that the role remit of enterprise architects had shifted from being IT-centric to a role that increasingly was business focused.
“Three years ago the view was that EA had finally arrived as a profession, and two years ago we saw that the role had matured and more organisations had gone on to build EA teams. Last time, it was becoming apparent that enterprise architecture was being positioned as a discipline to drive organisational transformation.”
From being seen as a tool to implement business strategy, the latest Infosys survey indicates that EA will be redefined to break out of its IT-centric role to govern the interaction of all units and assets in an organisation. This is not without its challenges, Aziz said.
“Enterprise architects have to become more business savvy, and they have to consult and engage more with business managers. In the main, enterprise architects have fared poorly here to date. We see it as being vital that they work to improve the quality of communications with project stake-holders.”
Some 22% of all respondents said their organisations were starting to use EA approaches to implement their general business strategy, the company said.
Despite the past emphasis on business-IT alignment, process standardisation and improvements that add agility or flexibility are where the major opportunity for EA now lies.
Already, 16% of EA teams do not report into the IT function but spend two-thirds of their time on project support helping orchestrate change in its broadest sense.
Despite that sign of progress, measuring the returns and business benefit of EA and enterprise architecture teams is still a problem, according to Aziz.
“There is a need to focus on the metrics: EA is a science, not an art. There is a need to account for the value that EA brings to the business, measuring the benefits of flexibility or adaptability that is brought about through EA by looking at how it helps reduce operating costs or drive revenues. Those are the obvious value metrics. But there are activity metrics and acceptance metrics to build in as well, that reflects how many business project have an EA plan, or whether software developers are finding the enterprise architecture a help or a hindrance.”