Architects who create future state models first, typically find it easier to get management to invest in their efforts.
Traditional enterprise architecture approaches have focused on analyzing and creating current state representations first, and only then considered future states.
This is a little like creating an entire tube map, when all I wanted to know was how to get from place a to place b. Worse still, we sometimes get so wedded to those representations that we fail to see alternatives, because they were not pictured.
By understanding where you want to go, when you want to get there and any limitations on time, budget or means, enables you to plan your journey better.
Additionally, the mapping out of a business' future state keeps EA's focus on business outcomes and ROI. This strategy is consistently effective in making the benefits of EA more clear to decision makers, and in turn, driving enterprise architecture investment.
Demonstrating that we understand the desired future state, instills greater confidence that we are working towards something the business needs, takes less time to produce some tangible results and makes it harder for the business to resist our proposals.
In many cases, this approach to EA works towards nullifying one of the most common hurdles for enterprise architects - earning a seat at the table.
Despite the necessity of EA, its holistic view of the business, and its stake in company direction in strategic planning, many business leaders and decision makers lack "insider" EA knowledge, and so pitches with a focus on anything other than results and ROI often fall on deaf ears. Those pitching high level, enterprise architecture jargon to non-specialists will find encouraging management to invest in enterprise architecture near impossible.
This more encompassing take on tackling EA goes a long way into securing EA's place, closer to the center of business operations, rather than being viewed as a fringe arm of IT as it had been in the past.
In fact, there's a very strong case to be made, that enterprise architects are best positioned to operate as direct advisors to the CIO.
With a future state model in place, not funding the projects or proposals can be seen as giving up on the desired business outcome – not something many executives and managers feel comfortable with.
Initial future state architecture does not have to take long or require complex tooling. The key to success lies with elaborating the future in such a compelling way (either with visuals or words) that people can’t resist wanting to go there. Focus your efforts to:
a) Work with key stakeholders to understand the where and when of the future, and on how success will be measured. Any visualizations you create are best delivered as either sketches or highly graphical views that are readily accessible and mask any technical details.
b) Ensure you note information that might support achievement of the future when the time comes, or data that might be useful in evaluating alternative paths. This is also a good time to learn how the key stakeholders prefer to see information presented, ensuring maximum success when you present results at a later stage.
This blog post is an extract taken from Enterprise Architecture and Data Modeling - Practical steps to collect, connect and share your enterprise data for better business outcomes. Download the full ebook, for free, below.