Architecture of the Enterprise
Blog: The Knowledge Economy
Much discussion and even controversy exists as to what is in fact the Enterprise.
Those that think that it only encompasses the organisation or business in question are missing key facets that may impact how they perform in an on-going basis.
A role with the designated title Enterprise Architect may exist within some organisations. In many cases the the entire focus of responsibility is constrained to IT. At other times the boundary appears to extend to the edge of the organisation itself but no further. Both were entirely internally focussed. In all cases a more holistic view would be preferable, extending the enterprise to encompass all areas that have any impact on how the organisation operated.
Many diverse areas have an influence on an organisation:
- IT: Provides technology and services to support business operations;
- Business: Provides a vision and overarching mission that defines the products and services it provides to its customers. It also shapes the overall business ethic, cultural behaviour and principles against which decisions are made;
- Stakeholders: Are Internal and external entities who have some interest in how the organisation performs and operates. Stakeholders includes, employees, families of employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers, competitors and regulators;
- Suppliers: Provide products and services essential to the operation of the organisation;
- Customers: Purchase and/or consume the products and services of the organisation. Without these what is the point.;
- Competitors: Provide alternative products and services. A ‘good’ competitor will always be attacking market share;
- Regulators: Provide constraints on how the organisation operates and what may or may not be provides to its customers and how it interacts with other entities.
Changes in any of the above will have a flow on effect to the operation of the organisation. Consequently all should be considered when affecting change.
It is interesting how a change that is occurring in Europe with the the adoption of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) need s to be factors into how data is being treated. It is likely that few organisations would have even contemplated that regulations being established by a body that seemly has no relationship with them could possibly have any impact on how they operate. In this case failure to accommodate requisite changes could be extremely costly.
Similarly, and sticking with a security theme, having knowledge of both local and federal privacy legislation will influence the way in which personal and private data is treated. Again failure to comply can have significant operational and performance impacts on the organisation.
Financial regulations will also impact what can or can’t be done.
It is not possible to know absolutely everything about everything that influences the organisation.
The purpose of an Enterprise Architecture is provide a rigour, processes, a framework and a knowledge repository that permits better decisions to be made on how the organisation operates now and into the future.
Being able to reliably answer the questions:
- What if…?
- What should be done?
- What are the likely consequences?
- What are the constraints?
- Who will do this?
- How will it be done? and
- When does it need to be done?
provides a excellent grounding for a successful organisation.
An Architecture of the organisation needs to encompass all of the areas that impact or influence how it operates. The knowledge of each area needs to be codified so that it may be accessed and analysed by both the decision makers and those making recommendations.
The knowledge captured needs to be maintained so as to ensure that the best and most timely information is able to be applied to address any areas of concern.