Virtualising Enterprise Architecture for Sustainability

This post was written by Carl Haggerty and Martin Howitt.

We are currently facing some of the toughest times in the council,  budgets are being reduced and staff will inevitably be made redundant. The future for some looks very grim and whether the Enterprise Architecture Team (EA Team) survives the next 12 months in its current form is very much unclear.

One thing is certain, though: in periods of rapid and deep change, enterprise architecture as a discipline provides a whole range of value-adding tools, methods, models and attitudes that could make the difference between a well-executed shrinkage of the organisation and one that destroys much more value than it should.

Therefore some (well all of us really) in the team believe that it is better to equip and build capacity in order to drive forward the disciplines and methodologies of Enterprise Architecture than to simply naval gaze and try and justify whether or no we should exist when front line services are being threatened – Carl has blogged previously about the future of EA is no EA.

To some degree the fate and future of the team is in the hands of the political powers and they have the unenviable task of balancing the needs of communities with priorities for the council. That will mean people losing their jobs.

To be clear about what services the EA Team currently provides, let us just share with the outline and scope of what we do. Martin has blogged broadly about EA Services before.

Examples of the value we add are:

  • key trends, risks and methods for strategic change
  • Communication of vision
  • challenge & lateral thinking
  • translation of strategy into different formats
  • direction setting for solution architecture/design
  • reduce friction for projects/programmes
  • “values” input to portfolio management
  • market intelligence to improve IT/business relationship

Examples of the value we add are:

  • Increased value of project outcomes (Internal and External)

Examples of the value we add are:

  • Awareness of current issues in technology and business
  • Context around certain projects and developments with the organisation
  • Local Government Perspective on certain trends
  • Knowledge
  • “Art of the Possible” (eg if we implemented practice x or solution y, what could we achieve)

Examples of the value we add are:

  • Standards, work load control
  • Visibility of work
  • Communication of situation, management of expectations

Examples of the value we add are:

  • Linking National to Local; Influence National Strategies
  • Key Trends; Shared Service Design; Externalised Services; Integration; Co-ordination
  • Accessibility, Accountability, Facilitation
  • Visioning; Cost Reduction, Risk Reduction, Organisational Performance, Design, Business Modelling
  • Planning Strategic Change; Service Delivery Models;
  • Key Trends; Local Service Design
  • Strategy; Standards, Architectures, Assurance
  • Strategic alignment; Architecture Definition; Standards Definition
  • Consulting uses models to assist customers: Education uses models to educate and inform; Assurance uses models to guide decisions

Since we adopted the service model over 12 months ago, it’s become clear that we are overlapping with other parts of the organisation – our Learning and Development team, for example, provide an Education service even if it doesn’t focus on the same subject matter as us.

Understanding these overlaps gives us an opportunity to form partner relationships which will have the effect of driving EA thinking deeper into the organisational fabric. This process of understanding where the overlaps exist has also made us think about whether we should be leading these services for the council, or whether we could simply instill Enterprise Architecture disciplines into other parts of the organisation and in effect virtualise the services across different teams and functions and therefore perhaps creating a more sustainable approach to Enterprise Architecture in the council.

In our next post we are going to outline the process we are using to make this happen.