Why do we need Enterprise Architecture Frameworks?


Creating an enterprise architecture is challenging but could be facilitated using an enterprise architecture framework.  

Deploying a comprehensive EA framework is a daunting task for most organizations due to its extensive and expensive nature. Maintenance of the framework also adds to the cost and complexity. As a result, many companies opt to adopt a framework that best suits their needs or cobble together parts from different frameworks to provide value to their business. These frameworks are utilized more like guidelines than rigorous standards and practices.

Choosing the appropriate concepts or techniques from an EA framework ensures that companies can benefit from enterprise architecture while practitioners can make the best use of the framework. Understanding the context behind EA frameworks is crucial in making the right decision.

Having a deep understanding of how Enterprise Architecture frameworks have evolved over time, along with their respective successes and failures, will help companies to either adopt or adapt an EA framework that will provide the complete visibility needed to manage the complexity that is inherent in today’s business world.

Moving to an Agile Enterprise Architecture

A key criticism of traditional enterprise architecture is its perceived inability to keep up with the rapid pace of change and facilitate agility. The rise of Agile methodology has been one of the primary drivers of change within enterprise architecture, forcing it to adapt its approach more than any other business force.

In order to keep up with the rapidly changing business landscape, companies need to be able to quickly adapt to technological advancements and customer demands. Fortunately, advancements in technology have made it possible to automate some of the enterprise architecture processes, freeing up enterprise architects to focus on exploring new technologies and innovations, developing reference architectures, and aligning technology with strategic business objectives. 

However, to be successful in this role, enterprise architects must possess a deep understanding of not just technology, but also the business and how technology can enable it.

The Problem with Agile Methods

Agile methodologies were developed to address the high failure rates of projects and the inability of stakeholders to keep up with the rapid pace of change in the marketplace. Heavy technical debt was also a common issue, leading to downstream costs when outdated technologies needed to be updated.

The adoption of agile methods led to a structural shift away from traditional pyramidal hierarchies and towards a focus on interactions between individuals, allowing for more rapid changes in direction and development of user-friendly functionality.

However, this new approach also presented risks, as the absence of a traditional hierarchy could result in the loss of perspective on the big picture and a lack of focus on the initial goal. In some cases, teams may become too focused on iterating details that no longer contribute to the overall value of the project.


Three (3) Steps To Achieving Agile Scalability Through Enterprise Architecture

Scaled Agile framework

Agile thinking has become increasingly important in the face of rapid technological advancement, which has lowered barriers to entry for new products and disrupted established market shares. As a result, there is a strong need for variable adjustment, which can be achieved through Agile @ Scale. One of the most popular frameworks for implementing Agile @ Scale is SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework), which was developed in 2011 by Dean Leffingwell.

SAFe has revolutionized traditional architecture by integrating with architecture frameworks and enabling the methodology to be applied to larger groups that can work effectively without becoming dispersed and losing sight of an overarching plan. The focus of SAFe is on building a product rather than managing a project, which is achieved by decomposing the product into functionalities or capabilities rather than requirements. This approach allows for faster feedback loops with customers and helps to avoid the costs associated with product release delays.

In conclusion, Enterprise Architecture (EA) frameworks have become a necessity for businesses to manage the complexity of their operations, especially in the face of rapid technological advancements and market changes. While implementing a complete EA framework can be expensive and challenging, organizations can benefit greatly from adopting or adapting a framework to meet their specific needs. 

Agile methodologies and tools have played a significant role in shaping the evolution of EA frameworks, providing greater flexibility and adaptability to changing business requirements. Additionally, the automation of architecture processes has enabled enterprise architects to focus on innovation and strategic business objectives. Understanding the context behind EA frameworks and their respective areas of success and failure is crucial in selecting the right concepts and techniques that will provide value to the organization. By leveraging the right EA framework, businesses can achieve a competitive advantage, drive innovation, and meet their strategic goals in a rapidly changing business landscape.