Blog Posts Enterprise Architecture (EA)

Enterprise Modelling versus IT Enterprise Architecture

While Enterprise Architecture (EA) has great  potential because it can describe the enterprise in a structured and graphical manner, it is nowhere near achieving the expected results. The disputes around EA scope and definition raged wild for a while but lead nowhere. EA is still rooted in IT where it started.

EA was buried in commercial interests much too early, before even having a chance to get a proper and stable body of knowledge and begin to deliver. There are few EAs in the industry, if any, EAs that we can navigate but there are rather too many case studies telling us the “success” stories but not showing us the EA as delivered and seen by the customer. The “Show Don’t Tell is still a best practice in writing, at least. 

Moreover, the few key players that dominate the market have too great a stake to accept change from the outside. “Status quo” is what they push, perhaps until that time they can embrace the new concepts as their own. No matter the tactics, the problem is that they make it hard for EA to prosper since EA does not usually deliver Enterprise Architecture but what the various frameworks specify which, more often than not, is not the EA blueprint of the enterprise.

Hence, while EA has a great role to play in the emancipation of the enterprise, in its current form it does not deliver, at least outside IT.

Imagine now that we leave the EA do its undeniably useful job of overseeing the developments in IT, and we focus on Modelling the whole Enterprise to deliver the Enterprise Model (EM).

Think of the Enterprise as a body consisting of parts, processes, systems, people… and everything else we can think of. Imagine then that we describe this enterprise body, as in this excellent representation of a human body, and then inspect it by selecting or filtering only the aspects of interest to us at a point in time. We’d be able to show as such various parts or sections of an enterprise by virtually sectioning its body like CT or MRI scans do for the human body.

We can then visualise in context the various parts of an enterprise, navigate from one part to another and from process to process and to the resources implementing it.

We would be able to visualise all technology rather than IT alone. We can even document or design some aspects later when convenient, because they already have a place in the enterprise, same as a nervous system does have a place in the human body no matter it is described or not.  

We’d all employ the same repository of artefacts designed against the same guidelines and constraints and consisting of entities from the same arsenal. No more variants that differ in naming, scope or components from stakeholder to stakeholder. We shall all speak the same language.

The aspects we “check out” would represent views of the same whole, the Enterprise Model, seen from different angles.

Using the Enterprise Model, we can understand better the end to end enterprise operation and the role of technology, we can properly organise the enterprise, we can fix malfunctions, improve processes or even simulate process changes  to analyse impacts on other enterprise systems and technology.

In modelling, we come top-down from the whole to discover the parts in context rather than, as done today, bottom-up from parts that put together may not give ever a big picture because they overlap, leave gaps, represent different levels of detail etc.

Enterprise Modelling (EM) would help us move on from the IT Enterprise Architecture without denying its IT scope, to the delivery of an Enterprise wide Model that truly integrates business and technology architectures and people organisation.

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