These are the questions de jour on many forums, in recent trade articles and across the LinkedIn environment. It would be easy to simply respond with “no” and move on, but nobody has time for such a short response, so this longer response is required.
I have always been a huge fan of utilising analogies to explain concepts, so I shall not deviate from my previously successful actions and do the same here by exploring EA via the analogy of a Marketing Plan.
I doubt anyone would disagree these days that any corporation should operate without a Marketing Plan and that as such, any efforts expanded by a corporation would otherwise, at best, be considered ad-hoc and, at worst, wasteful and disorganised.
A Plan is, according to many dictionaries, defined as “a scheme, program, or method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of an objective”.
A marketing plan is not a spreadsheet of activities. It’s not an editorial calendar. It’s not a list of surveys, research assignments and campaigns. It’s not a budget or set of goals. It isn’t a set of articles or models from McKinsey. It isn’t something you think you have in your head.
It is a strategy.
It helps focus resources.
It is a plan for activities that stimulate objectives – like sales and growth.
The planning process helps you to understand the different factors that may affect your success. The process of creating a strategy plan involves three steps:
- An analysis of the firm’s internal and external environments;
- A decision on the what to emphasise and project; and
- The selection of action plans to guide the enterprise.
The very first, and arguably most important step, is to perform research and analysis of your business and the market it serves. Once you are confident that you know your business, your market and what you have to offer – then define your goals. With your goals in sight, you will then need to determine the guidance and tactics you will undertake in order to achieve them. Ideally, by mapping them into your landscape via some situational awareness.
Now, instead of worrying about the future, you actually have a sense of control over your direction, because your decisions, and any unexpected issues, are guided by an overall map and strategy governance.
This is as true for Marketing plans as it is Enterprise Strategies.
Throughout the processes of creating, implementing and evaluating your plan, it is important to realise just how valuable mapping and planning is for your company.
The secondary question of frameworks, methods or schools of thought are, to my mind, of little consequence in the overall argument. No amount of textbook correct implementation of FEAF, Zachman or <insert sparkly-new-fandangled framework here> is of any use if it does not produce – and communicate – a plan.
An Enterprise Architecture, just like a Marketing Plan, is a strategy that functions as a blueprint for everyone within the organisation to not simply see, but also to be guided by and follow. The company as a whole will know in what direction it is going – thus causing energy and efforts to be amalgamated and focused.
If you are not doing this as an EA, then yes, I may be inclined to agree that you are the problem and, by extension, your company is likely to believe that EA holds no value.
Whilst I may disagree with a few of the definitions spouted by many respondents and claimants of expertise across the many forums and articles I have read, my initial yardstick of measure will be the success the communication of “the plan” has had on the non-IT departments of the corporation – namely the support they offer and the amalgamated effort that is spent by those departments in aiming to achieve its success.