Enterprise Architecture: What It Is and How It Builds Stronger Companies

The world is constantly changing, and information technology is evolving at high speeds. To keep pace with these changes, companies need guidance on how to invest in and utilize new technologies. Enterprise architecture, or EA, is the method by which businesses adopt and use technology to meet their goals. In this guide, users will learn what enterprise architecture is, why it is important, and how it can help them build stronger companies.

What is Enterprise Architecture?

EA is the system an organization uses to plan and arrange its IT infrastructure, and its components include analysis, design, planning, and implementation. Certain principles guide the company through technology, process, and business strategies, focusing on reaching the desired outcome.

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Enterprise architecture was first theorized in the 1960s as BSP or business systems planning. While it was at first a way for businesses to combine legacy applications with existing and future processes, it now encompasses other goals, domains, and methodologies.

The Importance of Enterprise Architecture

The corporate world is evolving by the day, with technological advances allowing people to work from anywhere, at any time. Enterprise architecture provides a versatile way for companies to achieve goals within certain time constraints while retaining the ability to adopt new technologies and tools. As technology changes, EA strikes a balance between business development and IT performance.

EA Goals

The purpose of enterprise architecture is to create a comprehensive, cohesive blueprint of an organization’s structure. EA models paint an all-encompassing picture with a long-range view, which describes the company’s processes, information systems, hierarchy, and technologies. Enterprise architecture also leaves room for technological advancement. Its general goals include:

·   Effectiveness. Enterprise architecture establishes workflows for a company’s most essential processes. EA blueprints show businesses how to reach their deliverables.

·   Efficiency. The ability to eliminate redundancies and reuse resources is clearly outlined. With workflow mapping and process modeling, collaboration is encouraged.

·   Agility. Organizations of all sizes use EA to combine legacy and new technologies. Accurate models assess technological risks while guiding the analysis, metrics, and monitoring required to identify how and when to evolve the company’s IT methods.

·   Continuity. There’s nothing more important than the ability to maintain crucial operations. Enterprise architecture ensures continuity through the standardization of IT and business processes.

While EA frameworks can improve most aspects of a business, their greater purpose is to maximize value—which can only be defined itself by the company.

A Streamlined Design Process

Enterprise architecture supports organizational structures, laying the groundwork for the flexible planning required to reach a company’s goals. EA also assists in organizational redesigns such as those encountered during mergers and acquisitions. Organizations use it to standardize practices and improve efficiency.

Project Management Support

Many organizations find that EA supports project management through work prioritization. On individual projects, it enhances communication and cooperation between stakeholders. Deliverables are consistent, defined, and in line with the company’s mission.

System Development and Oversight

When systems are designed optimally, resources are allocated efficiently. Enterprise architecture ensures timely development and testing of software, which allows teams to make faster decisions on the adoption of new technologies.

Creating Open IT Systems

Organizations using enterprise architecture usually have open and responsive IT systems because EA increases the availability and accessibility of data and simplifies regulatory compliance. It also increases cross-organizational transparency and promotes collaboration.

Managing Risk

System and security failures, as well as other business risks, are reduced via the implementation of EA blueprints. Effective communication and standardization ensure faster problem-solving and greater oversight. Therefore, enterprise architecture supports companies in maintaining reliable, consistent deliverability.

The Elements of EA

While IT infrastructure and business requirements are dependent on the organization, all EA frameworks consist of certain core elements.

·   Architecture management. Every enterprise needs an architecture oversight team that keeps everyone on track and ensures the alignment of IT infrastructure with corporate goals.

·   Architecture framework. This is the methodology that defines EA, including IT infrastructure requirements.

·   Implementation methodology. These are the basic steps required to implement the strategies laid out by a framework, from start to finish.

·   Documentation artifacts. Here, organizations document workflows, plans, and strategies. IT solutions should be set up to meet the needs of the implementation and the framework.

·   Best practices. This is where an organization standardizes its operating procedures, ensuring the consistency of compliance and processes.

These components are interdependent, and without just one of these crucial puzzle pieces, enterprise architecture can’t succeed.

The Role of the Enterprise Architect

Enterprise architects guide IT implementations to help companies reach their goals, which means they must be able to communicate effectively with business managers and technical developers. It’s quite the responsibility, requiring significant analysis, identification, and hands-on effort. Architects typically work under CTOs (chief technical officers) or CIOs (chief information officers).

Enterprise architects must stay on top of tech trends, and they should be able to quickly determine which advances align with the business’ framework. These roles are usually filled by those with computer science degrees and IT experience. Those in EA should be well-versed in computer system technology, with strong leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.

The role of the enterprise architect is a somewhat specialized one, but it also requires a general knowledge of software and hardware. Along with their industry experience, aspiring architects must demonstrate their understanding of IT and earn one or more industry certifications.

Enterprise Architecture Allows Companies to Work in the Present and Plan for a Better Future

Enterprise architecture can maximize an organization’s value while allowing it to build a stronger future. EA makes it easier for companies to stay agile by adopting advances such as machine learning, AI, cloud computing, and whatever may come next.

When business owners, executives, and managers choose frameworks that fit their enterprises, they gain flexibility and other advantages. EA frameworks will optimize an organization’s processes and structure, but the benefits go much further. By relying on enterprise architecture for guidance, groups can work toward their goals while maximizing value for stakeholders.

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