Tackling Complexity with Enterprise Architecture

We frequently work with technology executives and leaders to help them go through digital transformation journeys. While we have various skills in our toolset for this job, Enterprise Architecture often comes in handy to tackle complexities that other work areas do not govern.

In this article, we want to call out challenges and complexities with which the EA can help, hoping to provide helpful insights for those who face similar problems.

Scope of Problems for Enterprise Architecture

Understandably, the EA scope bounds the scope of problems that the Enterprise Architecture can solve. Hence, do not expect that the EA will help with aspects outside of this discipline's governance.

Enterprise Architecture oversees stages of the digital transformation from the current to the target state. Therefore, let us review the challenges that occur throughout these phases and see how the EA helps.

EA Current State Challenges

Before starting any digital transformation, organizations typically need to understand their current state landscapes. This task is complex in itself since we are speaking about defining a digital twin of the company. Activities at this stage include data collection and analysis, IT portfolio management, organizational structure, processes, people, and resources involved in various business processes. Knowing all these areas and applying them to the mentioned objective in a combined fashion might be daunting.

Enterprise Architecture is that discipline that cherry-picks necessary aspects from each related knowledge area and puts them together to define an exhaustive yet practical digital twin of the organization.

EA Target State Challenges

If you think the current state is complicated, now look at that task from the perspective of the unknown landscape and environment that will emerge in the future. While dealing with the changing conditions of the surrounding markets is an unavoidable puzzle for every organization, attempting to plan the evolution on top of that might be impossible. Aspects that shape the future state are vision, strategy, goals, objectives, and all the elements of the desired digital twin that you want to achieve at some point. As you can see, the primary focus is on business architecture and drivers, which need to enable the change. However, discovering answers to these questions will always be complex since the environment constantly changes as time goes.

Enterprise Architecture helps define the target state by asking the right questions, restructuring the resources to serve the business, and narrowing the view into the digital twin for maximizing the positive impact just where it is needed. Perhaps this narrow view into each problem, and then the holistic ability to verify and achieve integrity across composable solutions, is what makes the EA the right tool for the job.

EA Transition State Challenges

Now we know what we have, and we also know what we want to have. Everything is great until you need to define a plan to move from the current to the future state architecture. Necessary changes can span business processes, teams of people, technology research and development activities, integrations, distributed architecture evolution, and even embedding new technologies into the landscape. This exercise can be so hard that we have even witnessed organizations that stopped here and abandoned the change plan altogether. If you think that you can survive where you are today, you can give it a try. However, most enterprises (perhaps including your competitors!) choose to move forward. But how to execute the change effectively and efficiently?

Enterprise Architecture takes on this complexity as well by articulating the transition states, piece by piece, and adjusting on the way as the environment shifts. Tracking the change initiatives and activities and blending this task with the digital twin's structural integrity while in transition is that unique capability that the EA delivers.

Conclusion

And that is how Enterprise Architecture tackles complexities within an organization. Recognizing and accepting these challenges is the first step in being successful while practicing the EA. That is what we do, too.

Believing in this mission of untangling complexity, we are building Archipeg - cloud-based EA SaaS - designed to make Enterprise and Solution Architecture accessible to everybody, simplify knowledge collection and sharing, and drive change. Isn't this what solving the complexity means for Enterprise Architecture?