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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Value proposition of EA

A very good post was made recently concerning a "A Value Proposition for Enterprise Architecture". It was also commented in InfoQ. It describes very well the issues, but did not really look at the root causes.
In this post I will provide my contribution to the debate ...

The main issue with EA in North America is related to the lack of experience and confidence in what we call in Europe urbanization (or city planning). In France, there is no need to discuss this need. It is part of any big enough IT organization.

Architecture is part of our culture (Bazaar and Cathedral). North American people are more "pragmatic people", they hate to plan three years ahead. Even if it is a virtual target. They rely on short term adjustments and agile development. I never heard of agile architecture ... But merely of resilient IT architecture (the name of my blog)

What's the difference between the architecture of New York and Chicago or New York and Washington. The first one was built using a pragmatic view (each road as a number, it is easy to grow and efficient to find your way), the two seconds where thought before being built and showed a clear organization of the city (by French architects ;)).

In North America, you talk about flexibility and quick wins, low hanging fruits. That's great on the short term or in a dynamic industry where companies are living and dying quickly. EMEA is more oriented towards planning and organizing (everybody knows our bureaucracy), thinking long term. That's why I recommend to have multi-cultural EA teams when possible.

It is also why TOGAF is well adapted to North America and will never work in its current form in Europe. In that case, the process is more important than the way you are organizing the city. It is not enough and covering mainly IT side of EA.

Then Finally, the latest issue I see, the most important one, is that the EA team is not independent. It is either attached to the business, the CFO or to the CIO. If you want to play the role of the man in the middle thinking globally and acting locally, you need to be independent. Of course you need your teams to be part of projects (not all projects, but the most important ones based on the business value chains) to be able to follow what is going on (Busines and IT alignment). EA team should be attached directly to the CEO.

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