As we look to using tools for Strategic Planning in IT, I am constantly reminded of the fact that many business people don’t know what Strategic planning is, or why anyone should bother doing it. This is not a Microsoft thing. As I read the reports from our consultants in the field, and speak with tool vendors and consultants in the EA space, one bit of advice appears over and over:
Make sure you write down the questions that the business wants the Enterprise Architecture team to answer. Then collect only the information that you need to collect in order to answer them.
Two things hit me when I consider this advice:
- The advice is excellent. EA can get sidetracked by Ivory Tower problems, answering questions that no one is asking.
- Wow, we have an immature industry. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but don’t mature practitioners of any repeatable process have a set of questions that they need to get answered?
I’d like to see a time, in the not-too-distant future, when we can offer a course in graduate school on Enterprise Strategic Planning in IT, and one of the final exam questions would read: “List all eight of the key questions that are answered through strategic planning?”
I’m planning for the day when the questions will be standard, the answers easily gained, and the value of asking the questions will be so obvious that an EA team can be held accountable if they fail to ask, and answer, them.
[[added by Nick: 18 May]]: as a response to another post, I was presented with a link to a site, operated by a set of researchers in Germany, where the site owners are attempting to catalog ‘patterns’ of concerns and bits of information models useful for answering those concerns. This is the first really comprehensive attempt I’ve seen to address this issue, and I applaud it. For those interested in Enterprise Architecture, I strongly suggest that you keep an eye on these folks: http://eampc-wiki.systemcartography.info/wikis/eam-pattern-catalog/home