Tag Archives: Enterprise Architecture

How to recover the Gap between Business & IT?

Why does the Gap between Business and IT exist?

I’m sure you will find people who will try to convince you that there is no gaps between business and IT. But, I can give you my piece of advice, it’s been quite many years now that I am working in this context and I can tell you, there are gaps… I am even use call to call it a schism sometimes. But let’s look at why does this schism exist? If we want to treat it, don’t we have to identify the origin of the problem? Since we are Enterprise architect, it is always put forward that we are here to “align the business and IT”, so let’s look at the “what do we have to fill to align them”.

When it comes to improving enterprise performance via technology, IT and the business usually approach the same problem from two vastly different perspectives.  As a consequence, on one hand, business people often lack an appreciation for the IT technical ramifications of adopting a new process. On the other hand,  technology and IT teams usually find business requirements unrealistic. Of course, if both parties are unable to bridge that gap in a highly collaborative way, the consequences can be significant.

As an example, consider the scenario in which the business makes what it believes to be a simple functional request: “I just want to have this function in my application. I would make my life easier”… Then, only to hear back from IT that this request will take six months to be delivered. While it may be true that there are substantial technical implications associated with specific business requests, IT should not expect business users to understand the full impact of all the IT management details – and it isn’t necessary for them to.

How to recover the Gap between Business & IT?

Better approaches would be:

  • For business, express and explain their needs, the reason why, benefits they are expecting… in two words: the Business Case (honest one, not a fake).
  • For IT to focus on translating the IT management details into business language, so business can understand what IT is saying.

A trap where business is too often ended in is to ask to IT a solution that they have already decided on their own. E.g: ” “I want to have this function in my application.” Doing that is starting it all from the wrong foot and can lead the whole project to huge consequences. My own analysis of this situation is the following: this is happening mainly due to that business doesn’t can/want to spend time to explain what their are already convinced at and that the trust between business and IT is missing from the beginning. So it requires some effort from business to express their needs and not the solution they want. But they are not the only ones who need to make some efforts…

IT has to make effort on its side as well. To start with, IT has to make sure that the thought solutions are really addressing the business real need behind.  Nowadays in many companies, it is quite usal to have IT having the mission to strive for commonality in IT solutions to support different business processes to be supported by the same service or at a lower level: function. Of course, the main goal here is to reduce IT cost. So,back to my first purpose here: to analyse business’ requests and identifying already existing/future services/functions which address the same kind of need is the IT mission as well. Of course, it will take more time to do it, but it is for the sake of the entire company, isn’t it? So what few months spent in a project compare to years of savings? This has to be evaluated and time/money spent to do this evaluation must be accepted by both parties.

So, to me it is a jointly (usually called “collaborative”) work to be achieved. If both parties succeed, first to work on themselves, change their initial behavior, then to work together, I do think that they will be both on a better shape to go for a success. Once IT fully comprehends what the business is trying to accomplish, it may be able to offer an alternative approach that meets the fundamental business requirements and it would even might be done in a shorter time frame at the end.


Working together on essential business capabilities instead of implementation details, IT and business can often identify solutions that blend the two perspectives. In fact, such collaboration often enables the business to leverage what IT knows about current capabilities or best practices in other parts of the organization. It requires both points of view to ensure that the approach will enable the business to meet market demands.
Further, this type of collaboration positions IT to lead the charge in looking for solutions that are synchronized with business needs. If IT can facilitate a shift in the paradigm to a form a cooperative relationship, both sides will gain in terms of efficiency and results. Rather than responding to requests from business, IT can proactively offer solutions and alternatives. Isn’t it what we are aiming for? So called, win-win situation…

Top Four Enterprise Architecture Methodologies

Starting point

Few weeks ago, I was on business trip, dining alone at my hotel restaurant in Gothenburg (sad story isn’t it ;)) I was using my favorite device: iphone 4 to read interesting Enterprise Architecture articles & papers, when, suddenly, my attention was caught by a direct reply on one of my tweets from my respected architect colleague: Roger Sessions Roger asked me:

RSessions Nov 16

@enectoux Thanks for the RT! BTW, have you seen our article that describes the 4 Factors of IT Coherence? http://bit.ly/9nQ36W

Which at that time, I hadn’t  read yet. So, I decided to read it carefully, as it deserved to be and give some of my feedback / thoughts to Roger and you through my blog, since a tweet would not be enough.

Quick summary

So, to start with, not to mention that you should spend the valuable time to read Roger’s paper, which I don’t want to re-write here. Let me introduce it to you quickly. The title this paper is: “Comparison of the Top Four Enterprise Architecture Methodologies”  To be honest, this title is sufficient by itself to summarize the purpose of the document.

Through this paper, Roger gives us four very good overview of the top four  framework/process/methodology/practice: Zachman, TOGAF, FEA & Gartner, but in addition to this he also gives us some clues of what does each is good at (and not that good at, as well).

My points

This said, here are my points:

When taking each of these frameworks/process… separately, I always felt uncomfortable. While reading, I remembered when I was seating in TOGAF 9 training, having the feeling that there were things missing. I couldn’t explained it at that time, then I was missing experience in Enterprise architecture field and couldn’t step back enough.

As an example:

To my point of view, Zachman framework is more a reference to which you should compare with. What for? To benchmark in which Zachman cells you are currently missing documented knowledge in your EA work. Of course, this is not enough, once you did this first step; you need to set your priority accordingly to your strategic business objectives.

So if you take Zachman only and try to use it, first thing you will get hit by is that you are missing a process to do it… This is of course, where TOGAF is coming into the picture, bringing the process… So TOGAF is completing Zachman, good… but not enough – that would have been too easy –

Then comes FEA which brings a methods, yes, ok… but… still not enough. So there it comes, the big one: Gartner! Hurrah! We finally get it all, right? Of course not! But why? will you ask me! We have a reference model, a process to get the architecture up and running, and methodologies and then top of the world EA specialists… Well, there are different reasons why, let me gives you the main ones I foresee, with the help of Roger’s paper.

Why does each of the Top Four methodologies are not enough (taken separately)?

Roger Sessions: “TOGAF merely describes how to generate an enterprise architecture, not necessarily how to generate a good enterprise architecture.”

This said, there is nothing much to add about TOGAF.

To continue, a general comment on FEA, Zachman. These 2 are IT oriented frameworks / methodology (there is also a debate about TOGAF, but let’s no opening it here now). So, OK, we know that, but the issue I see is not that they are IT oriented, but the issue is that none of them are fitting with 201x enterprises’ challenges.

Zachman and FEA were designed to answer 1980’s problems and challenges. When it comes to TOGAF, as we’ve shown it above, it doesn’t answer to any other challenge than: create the architecture. Not saying that creating the architecture is not useful, but it is architect matter that is addressed, not the CEO’s challenges, such as: “enterprise profitable growth”.

So… you will tell me: “We need another framework / process / methods…” Well, here is a debate that deserves to have its own post (coming soon) We already have plenty of these (remember that here that Roger took only the top four used ones) and I don’t want to re-invent the wheel again, but obviously, based on what I just described taken separately each of these 4 attempts is not enough.  So, we need something to help us to manage the complexity of the “thing” (enterprise in our case), to fullfill the current challenges our enterpises are facing today and to get the Enterprise Architecture moving forward.

“Get the Enterprise moving forward (with the help of the EA)”

How should Enterprise Architects help their CEOs to get their enterprise moving forward? To start with:

Then, once it is done, let’s us come back to frameworks, process, methods, best practices… when it comes the time to choose, you will have difficulties to pick one of these since they are always missing one aspect. Then… what to do? In a first step, what is important is to know these methodologies, understand what they are capable to offer you. Then, the second step is to find your own way.

“Find your own way”

I know that for a structured mind as an architect is usually provided with, this statement will not sound “satisfying”. So let me bring you few additional points here:

  • The “best practice” is always your practice (because it’s yours!) Who else than you should know better than you what you need? Of course, you might need help to express it, we all need such help from time to time, but at the end, you must be the one knowing what you want to do, right?
  • When it comes to choice and getting thing done. This is where we should stop (for a while) to structure things. Remember Gartner quote: “Just enough Enterprise Architecture, just in time”. To me, this also means that we need to keep space for “not structured thinking” (cf. my post about non-linear thinking) in order to keep freedom for creativity and get innovative.

Because yes, innovation is one of the KEY for your enterprise to get through and progress. Let’s us stop here for today. Next time I will tell you more about “my way”…

What does Business and IT alignment mean

What does Business and IT alignment mean? #iCMG Architecture World – Linkedin Group discussion http://ow.ly/39LVW

Above, is a link to a very long Linkedin discussion about:

What does Business and IT alignment mean?

The objective of this discussion is
1) Define what does IT alignment with business means?
2) Define process needed to align business and IT?
3) Define deliverables for Business and IT alignment (documents, reports, etc)?
4) Define roles and skills needed to for deliverables?

As many others, I particpated to this discussion, but since I am on my blog, here is my (short) answers:

Emeric Nectoux • What does Business and IT alignment mean?

1) Define what does IT alignment with business means?

=> I believe that in most industry (beside the IT industry… even if we could quesiton it) it is business that is steering the enterprise and not IT. So, taking this as a start point, IT is there to support business. That said, what is Business / IT alignment? Quite simple ;o), it is to make sure that what IT brings as support to business serve the Business goals. (and not the opposite 😮 )

2) Define process needed to align business and IT?

=> Here I will stand behind Fabien Villard (the previous post in the discussion list). he gave most of the answers: Agility, ability to catch and answer to the business needs at the same pace that business is changing… Focus on small changing instead of changing the whole world at once…

3) Define deliverables for Business and IT alignment (documents, reports, etc)?

=> Dude, do you want me to do your job? ;o) Look at framework and EA methods, I’m sure you will find what will make you happy in terms of deliverables!

4) Define roles and skills needed to for deliverables?

=> Skills: open-mind, business and IT skills, power play, pragmatism, high capacity of abstraction and at the same time being able to dig quickly into details = have the macro / micro view capacity…
Roles: whatever you name yourself, till you know what you’re doing.

I will be pleased to know your view as well…

Why doing Enterprise Architecture?

You cannot effectively manage something if you cannot “see” and understand (know)!

Especially if it is big, complicated, or will grow and change at some point in time, or if  you need to communicate accurately with others about it.

The Cost of an error

There we are, in the heart of the topic! Money, save cost…

As you figure out with this simple chart, this is common sens, the earliest you are able to detect and error in your strategy, the most money you will save.

So, how will Enterprise Architecture will help you to save money?

Enterprise Architecture is the underlying design or structure of anything:

  • It exists whether or not  it is made explicit (know).
  • If it is not explicit, assumptions must be made.

If explicit, Architecture is…

  • “The set of descriptive representations about an object…” John Zachmann
  • A model or representation of an object created in order to…
    • “see” the object,
    • “communicate”with others about the object,
    • “do” something with or to the object: create, manage, evaluate or change it.

As a final thought for this post…

Enterprise Architecture is the underneath work that support any kind of Governance. Without such approach, Governance is blind or in the case relies on “convictions”… The issue with convictions is that, in some cases, they can blind us as well and keep ourself in a box. In this case, of course,  convictions  are quite dangerous especially if they are not challenged by facts that are partly brought by Enterprise Architecture.

Praxeme, an initiative for an open Method

As an introduction to Praxeme, I think the best is to read the following text which is an extract from Praxeme Institute home page:

The majority of enterprises and organizations are confronted with the same difficulties as far as design and management are concerned: whether we consider their functioning or transformation, their processes or information systems, it is the acknowledgement of the complexity that dominates and drives to despair, everywhere.


Rather than respond to these difficulties in a dissipated manner, with obviously limited means, several actors have joined forces, with a view to developing an open method. Praxeme results from this pooling of investments. It is an enterprise methodology that covers all aspects of the enterprise, from strategy to deployment. One can notably find procedures and methods for the design of organizations, and processes for semantic modeling (“business” knowledge), logical architecture and services design (SOA), etc.

The contributors think that the foremost quality of a method lies in its shareability. This is why Praxeme is an open method, built in a spirit of openness. Praxeme Institute is a non-profit association, pursuant to the French law of July 1, 1901 and is depository for the corpus, guarantor of its open nature and coordinator of the works. Its site publishes the components of the method.

For an introduction, please read: the White Paper; for a more in-depth presentation: the General Guide; other guides.”

What some EA approaches may be struggling with, is that they have tried to redefine what ‘Enterprise’ means.

Interesting Twitter discussion with today with @chrisdpotts: What some EA approaches may be struggling with, is that they have tried to redefine what ‘Enterprise’ means.

chrisdpotts: What some EA approaches may be struggling with, is that they have tried to redefine what ‘Enterprise’ means. 3:17pm, Feb 04 from TweetDeck


enectoux: @chrisdpotts could u be more specific? To me: it is irrelevant to “redefine enterprise”, but it is crucial to agree on what enterprise is. 3:57pm, Feb 04 from HootSuite


chrisdpotts: @enectoux enterprise has multiple established definitions http://bit.ly/9YiFau A challenge for EAs. Inventing more definitions won’t help.

Many times, when discussing about Enterprise Architecture I ended up into semantic discussion about what is “Enterprise Architecture”…

Enterprise Architecture or Enterprise IT Architecture?

Recently, I have been reading / discussing a lot about what people name “Enterprise Architecture”. This could be a never-end discussion, but, for the time being at least I feel like I need to make a stand point.

Lot of passionate discussions on EA networks are dealing with Enterprise Architecture and who is/should be leading it. Behind these ideological discussions, stand two very different approaches:

One which is more “conceptual” that we often call top-down approach and its mirrored: the so called bottom-up approach. I don’t want to argue about which approach is better than the other, as always, the truth is not black or white, it’s in the middle. To me, these two approaches are not conflicting, they are complementary and needed.

Then, what is the problem will you ask me? The problem is more when people say they are doing “Enterprise Architecture” while, in fact, they are performing “Enterprise IT Architecture”. Then, the situation becomes confuse and this confusion brings misunderstanding / mistrust. It is also question of people skills and background. Lot of architects have a IT background. Sometime, I feel that part of architecture profession (having a strong IT background) is trying to re-define the term “business architecture” to suit itself. This should be a term owned by the business, and business architecture has to do with money first and data second, and yet the “business architecture” defined by IT architects seldom mentions money. This is very dysfunctional.

Here is my attempt to give my vision of what “Enterprise Architecture” is and what “Enterprise IT Architecture” is.

To get the mindmap version, follow the link: http://www.biggerplate.com/viewMapImage.asp?ID=816

Enterprise Architecture

  • Reporting to the CEO/MD and CIO
  • Focus – Strategic
    • Working with strategic planning
    • Working closely with strategy and planning group/function.
  • Unless EA has the resources to take up job of strategic plan development
  • Handle both Macro / Micro views
    • Working at an enterprise level giving direction to all projects. (holistic view)
    • Working closely with PMO to provide guidance to individual projects (detail view)
  • Working with the entire Enterprise
    • Working with the entire enterprise (all functions and all cross-functional process owners)
    • Business mission, business vision, business drivers, business objectives, business goals, business tactics, strategy, Customers, Products, Activities, Departments, Functions, Locations , Services, Applications, Databases, Technologies
  • Working mainly at the logical level. (Projects develop the physical expressions of the logical)
  • Helping in integration efforts at a logical level and avoiding redundancies in business processes, applications, data and technology, for example.
  • Working with HR on motivation models
  • Maintaining an EA repository/database containing information about elements of business, applications, data, and technology.
    • Able to provide gap-analysis between as-is and to-be states to help both the strategic planning and PMO
    • Able to help the management in making “informed” decisions by providing reports from the EA repository
  • Making the whole organization “flexible” to “changes” as per the business/customer requirements
  • Bringing the business-side closer to IT-side

Enterprise IT Architecture

  • Talking only to the CIO
  • Concerned with design and implementation
  • Working at individual project level
  • Working with project planning
  • Working with the IT of the enterprise (Processes, Services, Applications, Databases, Technologies, Networks)
  • Working largely at a physical level
  • Working with HR on Technical role definition.
  • Focus – Operational

As a conclusion (so far)

As shown on the previous mindmap, to me, both approaches are needed. If we want to categorize them, I would say that Enterprise Architecture contains Enterprise IT Architecture. But, the second one (IT) can live by itself too. It is all depend on what goals the enterprise targets. Consciousness needs to be there and conscious decision has to be taken. One should not fool the other.