Enterprise Architecture 101 for Consultants

Bob Hruska CMC©, Sparx Systems Central Europe

The changes in the manner of work driven by technology were in the spotlight of an online discussion on Tech Innovation in Consulting on 22 June 2022 as part of the ICMCI Future of Management Consultancy initiative. The roundtable brought together Christopher Harper CMC, Dr. Stephen Louis CMC, Hadis Nazari, Mohammadreza Mahmoodi and Bob Hruska and was moderated by ICMCI Chair Robert Bodenstein CMC.     

Global consultant, speaker and trainer Bob Hruska delved into enterprise architecture and its importance for success in the highly competitive and potentially disruptive environment.

Enterprise architecture has emerged as a critical discipline to ensure that an enterprise and the organisations it comprises have an understanding of the significant elements of which it is made, from strategic goals through to the business elements assisting in achieving those goals. The discipline also allows enterprises to create an architecture that will transform them from where they are to where they need to be.

Enterprise architecture can help steer the ship through both quiet and turbulent waters, guarding the course from the current location to a future location in a safe and streamlined way. 

There is still an ongoing debate about what architecture is in the context of an enterprise which makes it difficult to give a universally accepted definition. According to the ISO/IEC 42010 definition, architecture is: “The fundamental organisation of a system, embodied in its components, their relationships to each other and the environment, and the principles governing its design and evolution.”

An enterprise has a complex and, typically, hierarchical structure. Thus, it needs to create architectures which are at the discrete levels of this structure. This hierarchy of architectures is analogous to the hierarchies of goals and capabilities and is aligned to the levels of strategic programming.

In a small organisation, it might be possible to create a single architecture which covers the strategic level and the project or capability levels. In larger enterprises, at least three levels are needed typically. The naming has been influenced by TOGAF, The Open Group Architecture Framework, namely: strategic (3-5 years), tactical (1-2 years), solution (6-12 months).

The different levels of architecture address different levels of concern and have different audiences. They need to be synchronised in order to form a cohesive and balanced view of the entire enterprise.

The overall architecture of an enterprise can be described in terms of four sub- architectures: 

  • Business architecture is the cornerstone of the successful outcome of the overall structure. It defines the business drivers, the business strategy, operational models, goals and tools the organisation needs to succeed in the market.
  • Information architecture is key to the success of an architecture programme as information is created, consumed and destroyed by the components making up the other architectures.
  • Application architecture provides an important catalogue of the architectures in the enterprise describing the work they do to transform, store and transmit information.
  • Technology architecture underpins the other architectures providing a description of the logical and physical infrastructure that supports execution.

There are also other aspects described as “views” as they are cross-cutting:

  • Security architecture.
  • Geospatial architecture.
  • Social architecture.

All architectures consist of a description of the baseline and target architecture with a series of transformations defined that can be executed. An architecture will only be successful if scoped correctly covering: time scope, organisation scope, details scope, stakeholders scope.

The development of architecture is a complex task involving multidisciplinary teams. Ultimately, architectures must deliver value to the business and this can only be achieved with the engagement of all stakeholders.

An architecture needs to act as a guide for implementation teams, as source material for decision making and as a description of a system either before or after it is built.

A model is an abstraction of the reality: it creates a single source of truth which is then visualised through diagrams in a specific context to address specific concerns of a particular stakeholder. Thus, a model can help with consistency while, at the same time, it acts as a valuable communication tools helping to bridge the gap between customer needs and architects who need to understand the problem and come up with solutions.

An enterprise architecture modelling tool is best viewed as an operational unit of the business and, as such, it has a context. The tool must provide value to the business, ensure that the architectural efforts are aligned to the strategic plans and that initiatives are carried out in line with the enterprise architecture.  

For more from Bob Hruska, please check out this video

For more highlights of the event, please visit the ICMCI YouTube channel

About Bob Hruska

Bob Hruska is a global consultant, speaker and trainer with over twenty years of experience in software and systems engineering. He is currently Global Principal Consultant at Sparx Systems Central Europe. He helps customers to deliver business value from software development processes at an executive level by providing pragmatic solutions to boost the likelihood of successful product delivery.

About the Future of Management Consultancy

Combining a series of events, discussions and publications, the ICMCI Future of Management Consultancy initiative strives to promote the global conversation about the future of the profession towards developing a common vision to help and inspire consultants all over the world.

Designed as an “open source” and inclusive platform, the Future of Management Consultancy is an opportunity to seek answers to pressing questions and to encourage interactive communication and joint idea generation.