It should be clear by now, if it wasn’t before, that the message of “digital transformation” has been accepted by organizations large and small.  While there are many definitions of digital transformation, and therefore many different ideas of the ‘scope of effort’ involved, there’s one thing that’s clear: effective Digital Transformation requires a strong and stable Enterprise Architecture capability.

In many organizations, the EA team is not ready.  In others, the EA team is ready, but is not well placed.  These are different problems.  And they require different solutions.

This article will help you to see whether you have an EA team that is incapable, or an EA team that is not correctly placed.  Once you know the problem, it is far easier to solve it.

Ready, Aim, Fire

We like to joke about companies that will should “Ready, fire, aim” in their projects.  It’s kind of a running gag, especially in IT where “change projects” occur all the time.  So many people will try to solve a problem before correctly diagnosing it that we are often resigned, especially as architects, to cleaning up the mess.  However, this is one mess that directly hits Enterprise Architecture.

Here’s a diagnostic to help you to determine if the EA team is both ready and placed, on a two dimensional grid.  For each question, select an answer.  The scoring rubric is at the end.

Note: The term Chief Enterprise Architect is a title I’m using in the following diagnostic.  It refers to the “person to whom all other Enterprise Architects report”.  This title is also sometimes called “Director of EA” or “Director of Strategy and Architecture.”


  1. How many levels below the CEO does the Chief Enterprise Architect report:  A. 1-3 levels. B. 4-5 levels C. 6 or more levels.  D. We don’t have a Chief Enterprise Architect.
  2. Among your Enterprise Architecture staff, how many have direct relationships with key business leaders around the enterprise?  (count the number of architects with more than five direct relationships each). A. >50% of the EA team have 5+ relationships.  B. 15-50% of the EA team have 5+ relationships  C. 30%+ have two or more relationships. D. <30% have two or more relationships 
  3. For the teams that report to the Senior Executive staff, how may of those teams know their named Enterprise Architect?  A. 50%+ of those leaders know who their EA is.  B. 20-50% of those leaders know who their EA is. C. 0-20% of those leaders know who their EA is.  D. No one outside of IT has any EA assigned to them.
  4. In your organization, how does the EA get invited into conversations with key business leaders?  A. The business leaders intentionally include their EA in frequent periodic reviews.  B. The business leaders invite IT leaders who frequently bring Enterprise Architects along. C. IT business leaders frequently update Enterprise Architects on their respective business areas.  D. Enterprise architects set up meetings and get on calendars with IT leaders to discuss status.


  1. How many strategic business initiatives at the company have an Enterprise Architect directly assigned and accountable? A. over 60%, B. 30-60%, C. Less than 30%. D. We do not make EA’s accountable on major initiatives.
  2. What is the average number of years of architecture (not engineering, project management, testing, or analysis) experience for the people holding the title of Enterprise Architect at your organization?  A. 8+ years of architecture on average. B. 5-8 years of architecture on average. C. 1-5 years of architecture, on average.  D. Less than one year on average.
  3. Among your Enterprise Architecture staff, how many have direct demonstrable experience with the “capabilities alignment” story (e.g. can drive the process by which a capability map can be used to build a strategically aligned roadmap)? A. 80%+ of the EA team, B. 50-80% of the EA team, C. 20-50% of the EA team, D. Less than 20%
  4. In your enterprise, what percentage of the “hot” (strategic with gaps) capability areas have current members of your EA team evaluated or contributed to in the past year? A. 30%+ of hot capabilities  B. 15%-30% of hot capabilities  C. 0-15% of the hot capabilities  D. No clear idea of what the hot capabilities are


  • A = 6 points
  • B = 3 points
  • C = 1 point
  • D = 0 points

Create separate scores for Placement and Readiness.

To be both “well placed” and “ready”, you need at least nine points for each measure.

For example: I could say Contoso EA scored 10 points for Readiness but only six points for Placement.  In that case, I’d say that the EA team is ready but not well placed.

So what do you do if you don’t get the score you want?  Go back to the diagnostic.  Which one of the items can you improve upon?  Pick key areas and improve them.  Then come back and measure again.

Once you are both ready and placed, you have a good business case for being directly engaged in a Digital Transformation effort.

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

8 − eight =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.