3.6

Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise Architecture helps business management achieve its strategic goals. It supports the company in creating competitive advantage, reduces risks and enhances cost-efficiency and scalability. Mergers and acquisitions, outsourcing and major organizational changes all set additional demands on the flexibility of Enterprise Architecture.

The purpose of Enterprise Architecture Management is to:

  • Provide a long-term view and facilitate the development of the company’s processes, systems and technologies as well as the execution of the business strategy
  • Create, manage and develop a holistic, interconnected model of the enterprise that encompasses processes, information, applications and technology
  • Ensure consistency and enable integration
  • Create, develop and manage a holistic, high-level roadmap of engagements and projects that realize required solutions and to provide a clear path from current state to target state
  • Enable lifecycle management of the solution portfolio

Digitalization has a major impact on Enterprise Architecture, as businesses flow over enterprise boundaries and business solutions expand to cover customers and ecosystems as well. A traditional monolithic architecture becomes complicated to manage and limits creativity inside company boundaries. The IT Standard for Business presents an approach that gives more room for planning the digitalization by integrating business to different ecosystems. The modularity of this approach allows a more agile development of architecture for different business areas.

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Figure 3.6.1 The elements of Enterprise Architecture.

 

The figure above presents the dynamics of Enterprise Architecture. The Core Architecture consists of four aspects of Architecture (Business, Information, Application and Technology Architectures) that are common to all businesses and are essential in integrating Domain Architectures. A set of tightly interconnected business solutions each forms a separate Domain Architecture entity. Each entity has a set of common elements and guidelines called the Core Architecture. Typically, companies have four to six Domain Architecture entities, and this approach allows flexibility to design the architecture within these separately.

The major focus of this approach is on the vision, future state and business development of the company, which fall under the Business Architecture layer. The Business Architecture integrates company to various ecosystems, such as customer and partner ecosystems. The company itself is a corporate ecosystem with dependencies between business units and incorporates a business support ecosystem that consists of all vendors and partners related to business support (i.e. HR, Finance, IT, Legal). The vendor ecosystem could, for example, be business subcontractors, component suppliers and service suppliers to name a few. And finally, the partner ecosystem defines the dependencies between business partners, who have a peer role towards the business.

Enterprise Architecture Governance

Enterprise Architecture requires a clear governance and an active role in projects to facilitate communication between the business and IT. The goal is to help the company to reach its vision and the desired target state. The CIO Office is responsible for the Enterprise Architecture governance.

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Figure 3.6.2 Enterprise Architecture Governance

Efficient governance requires clear roles, responsibilities and co-operation forums regarding the architecture content (i.e. description of the current and target state, goals, roadmaps, plans, etc.). It also defines how Enterprise Architecture content is continuously and systematically updated and published. Continuous updating is necessary to ensure the alignment with the changing strategy and market situation, and to meet the requirements of varying solution and service landscape.

The role of the EA in the project is to ensure the cooperation between the business process owners and the project organization. Enterprise Architecture needs to be reviewed in different phases of the project as defined in the Project Model. The projects shape and give input to Enterprise Architecture ensuring that it supports the on-going business changes.  The aim is to keep Enterprise Architecture holistic and on the driver seat what comes to the development of business concepts, processes and solutions.

Therefore, a good practice is to proactively give input to concepts and projects before too many decisions are made. In addition, it is essential to systematically maintain and communicate the target state with visual images to all relevant stakeholders.

 

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