Three Schools of Thought for Enterprise Architecture

By |2012-05-28T02:17:00+00:00May 28th, 2012|Enterprise Architecture|

It is interesting to watch the debates online between the different schools of thought of Enterprise Architecture.  The discussion was started by James Lapalme, who published a paper on “three schools of thought” which is in pre-print for the IEEE’s IT Professional journal.  (citation)  Mostly the online discussion focused around the role of the newest domain of Enterprise Architecture… the domain of Business Architecture.  Depending on how Business Architecture is understood, the role of EA can be dramatically different.

  • Some say that EA is about improving IT. In the diagram below, this is “Enterprise IT Architecting.”  In the online groups, we call this EITA.   In this model, EA is a mechanism for designing IT services and creating IT systems that address enterprise needs. It’s just a bare step above Enterprise Application Architecture by operating outside the constraints of funded projects, but the impact occurs in IT.  For this first group, Business Architecture is just another name for Business Analysis.
  • Others say EA is about aligning the business with all of its capabilities, including IT. For these folks, Business Architecture exists, but it’s primary impact is internal. Business Architects insure that the right initiatives are created in order to achieve business strategy. In the diagram below, this is labeled “Enterprise Integrating.”  In this school of thought, Business Architecture doesn’t really impact business strategy. Business Architecture uses capability analysis to understand the impacts of strategy on the business processes and systems, and helps to frame the initiatives that should be created. Only after the initiatives are started would a business analyst even get involved. In this model, EA provides all the benefits of the first group, AND insures that investments are made in the right place.
  • A third group say that EA is about Enterprise Ecological Adaptation. For these folks, Business Architects help analyze the movements of the market, and work closely with business leaders to develop strategies based on the capabilities and positioning of the company that are likely to generate new revenue, improve market position, improve customer loyalty, and reduce costs.  EA and Business Architecture help the business adapt to the ecosystem in which it exists.  In this model, EA provides all the benefits of the first two groups, AND insures that the business responds to the market conditions in a logical manner.  For some in this camp, Business Architects are not even part of EA.

Depending on the company your work in, there’s a case to be made for each. Personally, I prefer to think of EA as alignment at the minimum, and strategic effectiveness as an ideal state.  I created the following image to illustrate these distinctions.  For further reference, please read James Lapalme’s paper in the IEEE IT Professional journal.


Setting Up A New EA or BA Practice

By |2012-05-20T12:49:00+00:00May 20th, 2012|Enterprise Architecture|

Recently, I was contacted via this blog by an individual who had been challenged to set up a new Business Architecture practice within his company’s Enterprise Architecture team.  He reached out to me to ask about some books to read and some advice.  I’m expanding my message to him here.  As always, I’d love to hear your comments and feedback. 


You have quite a challenge ahead of you.  While it may seem obvious, there are some steps that you need to do first.  You have to essentially manage the change that you are bringing to your own organization.


  1. Value Proposition: Get together with your sponsor and create your charter.  This is critical to having a clear goal that you will achieve, and clear measures by which you will achieve them.  I cannot underestimate the importance of this step.  Do not skip. 
  2. Engagement Model: Create a clear and simple process for deciding what your team will focus on and how you will find the right opportunities to attack.  This is your engagement model.  Formalize it, and stick to it.  You will be pulled in every direction.  Clear simple criteria is your only defense against being scattered to the wind.
  3. Clearly define your service: what deliverables will be produced, and which individual stakeholders are going to be expected to use those deliverables, at what time, to what end. 
  4. Stakeholder buy-in: With the help of your sponsor, meet one on one with each of these key stakeholders and make sure that they understand your value proposition, resources, and process impacts.  You may be changing the lives of some key people.  Get their buy-in. Be prepared to rewrite the value proposition.  The value you deliver must be tied to the needs that they express.
  5. Scorecard: Hold yourselves accountable.  Create a scorecard and use it with your team to demonstrate how progress should occur, and use it with your leaders to show how value has been delivered. 
  6. Staff Training: Send everyone to a training class in Business Architecture… not so that they are all educated, but so that everyone is educated on the same terms, artifacts, and processes.  This is the most difficult one to offer advice on because I have not yet found many good options… then again, we have an internal team that has answered the call, so I have not lately looked.  Perhaps good options exist. 


As far as required reading… specific to the BA practice challenge

The list below is intentionally short.  I feel that every member of the team should read each of these books.  I placed them in order of usefulness for your task at hand (preparing the staff of a new BA function within an EA team).  All are very valuable… but being higher on the list means that I consider the book to be more valuable, sooner, than the ones below.


  • “Business Architecture: The Art and Practice of Business Transformation” by Neil McWhorter and William Ulrich
  • “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore
  • “How to Measure Anything” by Douglas Hubbard
  • “Enterprise Architecture as Strategy” Jeanne Ross and Peter Weill
  • “Competitive Advantage” and “Competitive Strategy” by Michael Porter
  • “Make It Stick” and “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath


For the team manager, one more book to be read concurrently with the ones above:

  • “Business Architecture: An Emerging Profession.” Paul A. Bodine and Jack Hilty



OK… I have probably just angered some of my friends, because I didn’t include all of their books or reference materials in my short list.  Please, before you flame me, realize that this response is to a specific individual with a specific problem.  The EA team existed, but didn’t have a BA function… what does that tell you?  That it is an EITA team, in all likelihood.  Is every possible book or resource appropriate for that situation?  Probably not.  So I selected a small set of valuable books.  There are many more out there.

On the road to a Business Architecture Manifesto

By |2016-09-28T22:42:34+00:00May 6th, 2012|Enterprise Architecture|

One very powerful metaphor that has reverberated throughout the technical community, in the past few years, was the Agile Manifesto.  Created by a group of folks who wanted to communicate the principles that drove their thinking, the Agile Manifesto has been a very useful tool for deciding if a particular practice is being done well.  I think it may be time to build one for the Business Architecture space.

That said, I am by myself, sitting in my living room.  I am in no position to speak for the community of business architects.  So, this submission is a suggestion for content that could be useful when the conversation begins.  It is my personal opinion about the principles of business architecture.  I would hope to bring this material to a group of other BA practitioners, as my contribution, to develop a full consensus on business architecture manifesto.   (more…)