Company mergers, even once approved, can often be daunting affairs. Depending on the size of the business, there can be hundreds of systems and processes that need to be accounted for, which can be difficult, and even impossible to do in advance.
Therefore, following a merger, businesses typically find themselves with a plethora of duplicate applications and business capabilities that eat into overheads, and make inter-departmental alignment difficult.
These drawbacks mean businesses have to ensure their systems are fully documented and rationalized. This way, the organization can comb through their inventory and make more informed decisions on which systems can and should be cut or phased out, in order for the business to operate closer to peak efficiency and deliver the roadmap to enable that change.
This is why Enterprise Architecture (EA) is essential in facilitating company mergers.
EA helps a business' alignment throughout the organization, providing a business outcome perspective for IT, and guiding transformation. It also helps a business define strategy and models, improving interdepartmental cohesion and communication. Roadmaps can be leveraged in order to provide a common focus throughout the company, and if existing roadmaps are in place, they can be modified in order to fit the new landscape.
Finally, as alluded to above, EA will aid in rooting out duplications in process and operations, making the business more cost efficient on the whole.
The Two Approaches
The makeshift approach:
The first approach is more common in businesses with either no, or a low maturity enterprise architecture initiative. Smaller businesses often start out with this approach, as their limited operations and systems aren't enough to justify real EA investment. Instead, businesses opt to repurpose tools they already have, such as the Office Suite.
This comes with it's advantages that mainly play out on a short term basis, with the disadvantages only becoming apparent as the EA develops. For a start, the learning curve is typically smaller, as many people are already familiar with software, and the cost per license is relatively low when compared with built-for-purpose EA tools.
But as alluded to earlier, these short term advantages will be eclipsed overtime as the organizations EA grows. The adhoc, Office Tools approach to EA requires juggling a number of applications and formats, that can stifle its effectiveness. Not only do the operations and systems become too numbered to manage this way, the disparity between formats stops a business from performing any deep analysis. It also creates more work for the Enterprise Architect, as the disparate parts of the Office Tools must be maintained separately when changes are made, in order to make sure everything is up to date.
This method also increases the likelihood that data is overlooked as key information is siloed, and it isn't always clear which data set is behind any given door, disrupting efficiency and time to market. It isn't just data that siloed, though. The Office Tools approach can isolate the EA department itself, from the wider business. The aforementioned disparities aided to the mis-matching formats can make collaborating with the wider business more difficult.
The EA tool approach:
In essence, the EA tool approach is the polar opposite to Office Tools based EA. The disadvantages of implementing a dedicated EA tool tend to be uncovered in the short term. Such disadvantages include the cost and ease (or lack thereof) of installation.
But as an organization's Enterprise Architecture grows, investing in dedicated EA tools becomes a necessity, making the transition just a matter of timing.
When implemented though, management of an organization's EA becomes much easier. The data is all stored in one place, allowing for faster, deeper, and more comprehensive analysis and comparison. Collaboration also benefits from this approach, as having everything housed under one roof makes it far easier to share with stakeholders, decision makers, C-Level executives and other relevant parties.
I've Decided I Need an EA Tool, But What About the Cost?
Considering all of this, the up side to investing in dedicated EA tools become more apparent. A dedicated EA tool will help an organization achieve the benefits of Enterprise Architecture to their full extent. Some organizations may still have reservations about cost, but thanks to SaaS-based EA offerings, the financial and time costs of implementing a new EA tool are minimized too.
The SaaS approach eliminates initial installation costs in favor of a more affordable, less binding, agility enabling pricing plan. This decreases the likelihood that the investment will become another piece of expensive shelfware. There are other benefits to the SaaS model too, including more frequent and less intrusive updates, and a global EA that's updated for everybody in real time, and is accessible to all approved parties from anywhere in the world - as long as there's an internet connection.
The hosted nature of SaaS based EA also means that collaboration can be facilitated in tool, with an approach akin to the G Suite - Google's cloud based enterprise software suite.