Enterprise Architecture is a young science. I was reminded of that today as I sat through a presentation by a Garner analyst, listening to details of “EA Best Practices”. Part of the presentation was this interesting statistic: of the companies surveyed with EA programs, 75% of those programs were less than five years old.
That doesn’t mean that five years ago, there were 75% fewer programs. It means that most programs don’t stick around for more than five years, because EA is difficult to do well, and it is pretty difficult to keep business and IT stakeholders actively engaged through the years where the program shows progress by keeping bad things from happening (which is pretty tough to measure).
So, making an EA program is hard, and keeping it running is hard, and you often find yourself just trying to keep the “value” moving.
So you really can’t waste time making things up. You really can’t waste time trying to invent things that already exist. There isn’t any time. You have to show value. Put up or shut up. The people in EA are valuable to the organization. It is painful, to the organization, and sometimes to the architect, to take these super talented people out of roles where they create systems and put them into roles where they keep systems from being created incorrectly.
So when you find an artifact or heirarchy or model or tool that you can use, use it. If it makes any sense at all, and can save you a week or an hour, adopt it. It is easier to adopt than create. It is easier to buy than to build. Creating a model from scratch should be a last resort.
So if your company has adopted Zachmann or TOGAF or Gartner or one of the other EA frameworks, and an artifact can be pulled out of a different framework and used, don’t worry about the source. As long as the taxonomy doesn’t conflict, and the model is useful, just use it.
Continuously improve (refactor) your program in small increments. Deliver value in short regular intervals. Listen to your customers, write up stories that describe what they need, and deliver it.
Sounds like agile development? It is. Only EA style. Agile EA.
Now, that’s a name I can live with.