An Architecture for Business - Enterprise Architecture

Why do need it?

Today’s organizations are faced with every demanding crisis by trying to manage the increasing complexity that existing in its business operations. Why does complexity exist? Applications and communications have provided the exchange of data and information in milliseconds. These systems provide information associated with enterprise's business in many areas: competitive market demands require quick accurate decisions; public firms are required to publish quarterly financial results for performance review by shareholders; the demands of producing new innovative product and services in world-wide markets are but a few. Management is driven to produce more efficient and effective results from many perspectives. So, the enterprise and its management are under the gun to “survive”. Survival requires an organization (or cross-organizational entity) to define its business scope and mission which includes assigning interdependent resources (people, land, capital, organizations, and technology) who must work together in a coordinated way to share information in support of a common mission (or set of related missions). An organization has an implicit and an explicit architecture. One explicit manifestation of an organizational structure and relationships shown on an organization chart. Our definition of an organization's Enterprise Architecture is it is the structure of components, their interrelationships, the principles and guidelines that govern their design and evolution over time.

An organization's Enterprise Architecture establishes the organization-wide roadmap (a plan) to achieve an organization’s mission through optimal performance of its core business processes (actions taken by people and information systems) within an efficient information technology (IT) environment. Simply stated, Enterprise Architectures are “zoning or city plans” for systematically and completely defining an organization’s current or desired environment and the transformation path between or like the plans to build the largest skyscraper. An organization's enterprise architectures are essential for business initiatives, corporate governance, change management and portfolio management as well as for sourcing situations where (parts) of the business and or IT are co-located at a third party. This is accomplished in a coherent set of landscapes of business & IT, expressed in business elements (e.g., vision & strategy, business processes/activities and functions, data and data flows, application systems and associated technical elements (e.g., software, hardware, communications, networks), and includes a transition plan from the current environment to the future environment. If defined, maintained, and implemented effectively, these zoning-city plans a transition plan from the current environment to the future environment.

Producing an architecture that is enterprise in scope usually entails a variety of artifacts that depicts the organization’s environment and its design by representing it with pictures and models with supporting narrative. Our organization chart is but one example. There are claims of the benefits of producing an enterprise architecture include:

  • alignment by ensuring the reality of the implemented organization is aligned with management’s intent,
  • integration by realizing that the business rules are consistent across the organization,
  • that the data and its use are immutable, interfaces and information flow are standardized,
  • the connectivity and interoperability are managed across the enterprise,
  • change by facilitating and managing change to any aspect of the enterprise,
  • time-to-market by reducing systems development, applications generation, modernization timeframes, and resource requirements, and
  • convergence by striving toward a standard IT product portfolio as contained in the a technical reference model.

Read more to learn more about enterprise architecture .

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