The first step in becoming a modern, fully enabled Business Anywhere organization is understanding your organization’s capabilities and your supporting digital assets. A well-crafted Enterprise Architecture Framework can help.
As a business owner today, you face tremendous pressure to invest in new technologies and software to keep up with competitors. Adopting a strategic perspective allows you to understand your business goals and processes first, so you can then unite your executive team behind your new investments. Using an EAF to take a holistic, end-to-end look across your organization’s business processes will help your new digital tools drive business results.
Standard Enterprise Architecture Frameworks (EAFs), such as The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) or Zachmann, provide time-tested methods for quickly assessing your business capabilities, data and information assets, application assets, infrastructure technologies and security. You can then use your EAF-organized findings to make informed choices that will optimize the value of your technology and software investments.
At a high level, an EAF can help you:
- Translate strategy into a digital transformation action plan — Once you understand your business capabilities, you can choose which to improve and transform or change, depending on the business-specific outcome measures you are trying to improve.
- Enable specific business results — By focusing on business outcomes, you can improve or transform value streams or sets of independent capabilities that affect the measure you are targeting.
- Improve your customer experience — Knowing your capabilities will help you quickly identify your customer touchpoints and redesign your customer experience to be friction-free and pleasing.
- Govern technology introduction and evolution — An EAF will identify what technologies are already in play along with your business process pain points.
- Optimize cost — You can better manage your technology spend by knowing the cost to serve each business capability, your business process and technological maturity level, the health of your technology and software solutions, and whether you should keep, sunset, replace, or target these for innovation.
At Centric Consulting, we have created a simplified EAF that combines the best frameworks available today. Our iterative approach depends on practical and repeatable processes that include business, application, data and technology architecture, as well as planning, governance and architecture change management.
No matter which EAF you choose, your goal is to improve your business with smarter investments that translate business strategy and business problem statements into action. With improved business outcomes, you’ll be ready to manage change across your organization, business processes and technologies involved as you build a more agile organization.
How to Get Started with Your EAF
So, where do you begin? The first rule is never start with technology. Investing in technology and then looking for a problem to solve will almost always lead to wasted money and little impact. Instead, make sure you guide your EAF by a well-defined business problem that you want to improve, then look for technology to solve it.
To help define your business problems, build a business capability map (aka, business architecture) for your enterprise. If you are not familiar with business architecture tools, you can start with an American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) reference model, a LEANix model, or value-stream specific templates, such as the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR). Some of these models are freely available.
However, don’t simply copy the model’s guidance. Your business’s capabilities may not be identical, or they may have different names. Instead, use them as reference models while you build a model specific to your company.
Specific Improvements You Can Anticipate with an EAF
As you might imagine, EAFs can improve your business in multiple areas. One of the biggest impact areas is application management. We’ll take a deeper dive into that in future posts, but first, here are some of the other areas that should improve as your EAF progresses:
- Program or project portfolio optimization — Align each investment with your business architecture, and balance where you are making investments across these to create competitive advantage (e.g., product design), drive cost competitiveness (e.g., supply chain business capabilities) and foundational capabilities (e.g., accounting capabilities).
- Data fabric creation and systems integration — Capture critical information, create data lakes and transform raw data into actionable information.
- Security architecture and controls management — Identify areas of risk first by business capability, and then by the applications and business processes that support that capability. This process allows you to define the controls you need, regardless of your digitization level.
- Innovation — Make strategic choices to innovate where needed and take on appropriate risk levels to create competitive capabilities or manage costs.
Once aligned with business capabilities, an EAF can improve your business results across your business, from day-to-day operations to long-term strategic needs. One urgent need today is sorting through the vast array of applications now available, thanks to the growth of cloud technologies.
In our next posts, we’ll take a more in-depth look at how your EAF can benefit your software selection process and how smarter software selection can benefit your company.