Enterprise Architecture Roadmaps: Deliver more value to your business

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Enterprise architecture roadmaps help you visualize the various services, technologies, platforms, and processes that your business has.

The fastest way to get from point 1 to point 2 is by a straight line.

Not in business though. Process throughout an organization can be very complex and difficult to visualize especially when the enterprise is undergoing digital transformation. As such, you will need enterprise architecture roadmaps to make that easier.

There is no denying how valuable IT is in today’s business landscape. Management is now very much aware of the capabilities of their IT departments, as well as the tools and techniques they bring to the table.

Carrying out your strategy means executing a plan or a pre-defined roadmap. This roadmap will allow you to align your business processes with the right platforms and technologies.

What are Architecture Roadmaps?

You use architecture roadmaps to address strategic questions you need to answer when your business is undergoing transformation. Architects can rely on their data driven and analytical thinking, as well as their experience, and stakeholder input. They also need to be skilled storytellers.

You may be using a template to create the actual roadmap itself, but it involves a lot of work and research.

This roadmap will show you the different work packages that will allow you to get to your goal. It will also let you how far along you are in your transformation.

These individual work packages will show how valuable it is to your business at each stage.

To have an effective enterprise architecture roadmap, you should bring together different viewpoints from a wide cross-section of your business. This swath will include views from different functions and regions.

You will bring together the BIDAT areas:

  • business,
  • information,
  • data,
  • applications and
  • technology.

Architects will also need to consider the different IT services and digital backbone domains. It is not as easy as it sounds because each one has different execution strategies, business sponsorships, and strategic drivers.

Shared Services

The biggest companies in the world have shifted towards a shared services model. This allows them to support processes and systems from one central point.

That means you can put together the needs of different business units under one globally distributed framework. For instance, IT, facilities management, HR, production, and finance may have a shared services organization.

The shared service will be architected to support internal operations. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 or 10,000 employees.

It’s not going to be easy. Employees will be relying on shared services to do their work: conduct operations, sell, manufacture, and others. What’s more, it may involve different regions in several countries across the world.

Senior executives need to monitor the SLAs closely. On top of that, they also have to look at the cost of operations and the metrics related to these enterprise-IT processes and platforms.

They will have to consider how these costs can impact their bottom-line, while also not forgetting the productivity gains that they could realize once they transform some systems and processes.

Digital Backbone

For many businesses, intellectual property or capabilities that are aligned with what they do best is what drives growth. This is their digital backbone, which is called “technology” or “engineering” by other companies.

For instance, a manufacturing company will have research and development as their digital backbone. Media firms, on the other hand, will have their newsrooms and petrochemical ventures will rely on their innovations.

In short, a company’s digital backbone is that which supports other aspects of their operations.

The thing is that processes and systems involved in managing an organization’s core competency and digital backbone have changed significantly throughout the years. There are also a lot of emerging tools and technologies that you can use now. These are also the ones that are most likely to be affected by digital disruptors.

We have seen a lot of good examples of disruptions over the past 10 years:

  • Uber disrupted taxis and other forms of transportation,
  • low-cost airlines, and
  • electric vehicle technologies, which pose intense competition for those that are using internal combustion engines.

What all these means is that you should be looking at technologies that can support your digital backbone. You should also customize these according to your business processes, and make sure that they drive growth.

Transforming your digital backbone can help you improve everything – from revenues to market share. It can even transform your business model.

Enterprise Architecture: Effect on Roadmaps

What are most companies doing wrong right now? It’s having their shared services and digital backbone operating independently and separately from one another.

The thing is, you can get more from consolidating these two. In fact, several departments are using the same tools, platforms, services, and technologies. Either that or they are using something similar.

For example, your several business units might be using the same cloud service provider. Or they might be using the same word processor.

If you don’t separate your digital backbone and shared services, then you might be able to negotiate for better licensing rates. It doesn’t matter what kind of service you have – be it databases, networks or infrastructure – you will be able to get a better deal if you negotiate for a bigger number of users.

Design and development skills might also be interchangeable between departments in your company.

One of the biggest hindrances that you have in doing this is your company’s culture. In order to bring together shared services and digital backbone without being bogged down by culture is to continuously reconcile architecture roadmaps.

The process of reconciling roadmaps is to review and resolve various issues. It should be consultative for the most part. There are some processes, such as technology debt or external vendor inputs that may be directive.

* * *

Enterprise architecture roadmaps help you visualize the various services, technologies, platforms, and processes that your business has. It shows you how each one of these components deliver value to your organization while also helping you streamline your shared services and digital backbone. You get a clear view of your IT resources and investments, while also helping you save money in the long run.

What’s more, it provides an easy way to see how far along you are and what else needs to be done. It is a continuous process – work doesn’t stop once you have formulated an initial roadmap.

It’s hard work but it is worth it. Four Cornerstone can help!

Photo courtesy of Marco Verch.

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