Today’s EA Methods Can’t Handle Continuous, Pervasive Business Change

Henry Peyret
Principal Analyst
September 7, 2012

Enterprise architects I talk with are struggling with the pace of change in their business.

We all know the pace of change in business, and in the technology which shapes and supports our business, is accelerating. Customers are expecting more ethics from companies and also more personalized services but do not want to share private information. Technology is leveling the playing field between established firms and new competitors. The economic, social, and regulatory environment is becoming more complex.

What this means for enterprise architects is that the founding assumptions of EA — a stable, unified business strategy, a structured process for planning through execution, and a compelling rationale for EA’s target states and standards — don’t apply anymore. Some of the comments I hear:

“We’re struggling with getting new business initiatives to follow the road maps we’ve developed.”

“By the time we go through our architecture development method, things have changed and our deliverables aren’t relevant anymore.”

“We are dealing with so many changes which are not synchronized that we are forced to delay some of the most strategic initiatives and associated opportunities.”

The bottom line is that the EA methods available today don’t handle the continuous, pervasive, disruption-driven business change that is increasingly the norm in the digital business era. Our businesses need agility — our methods aren’t agile enough to keep up.

Forrester has released version one of a new EA method — Business-Centered Enterprise Architecture (BCEA). We’ve taken models and techniques from business architecture, portfolio management, and information technology infrastructure library (ITIL), combined and extended them into a streamlined set of methods that enables continuous change from initial planning through design, implementation, and operational enhancement. It supports agile governance, which delivers desired business outcomes even when disruptive opportunities change everyone’s priorities. It doesn’t replace EA’s stock-in-trade of standards, reference models, and target states, but rather builds on and reshapes them to address the need for agility throughout the business change cycle.

I encourage you to read Forrester’s EA Method Playbook and tell us what you think. In our initial release, we’ve described core elements which we’ll be revising and expanding on — for example, over the next few months we’ll be publishing on performance management of EA, and how this changes the roles and skills of a firm’s EA practice.

Are you using some of the techniques already? Have you developed your own techniques dealing with some of these issues? Do you see ways we can make BCEA better, easier to use, or more effective? We want to hear your ideas in a partnership to develop new EA methods to address the new reality of continuous, pervasive, disruption-driven business change to address the digital business era.

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