Schools of Enterprise Architecture: Ideas of Architecting the Business, the Organization and the Technology

Introduction

Enterprise Architecture as a concept can be defined as many different things, shapes and practices. Through my studies of the concept of Enterprise Architecture, I have discovered that there are as many definitions of Enterprise Architecture as there are frameworks, books and articles on the matter.

Most frameworks agrees on that the concept deals with developing a set of standards, principles and documentation. These three elements are used in context of documenting and dealing with the usage of information technology in the organization.

From that on there are differences among the definitions of Enterprise Architecture like how to implement Enterprise Architecture program. A rather simple estimation there can be defined three different schools for Enterprise Architecture practice.

Schools of Enterprise Architecture Practitioners

The first school this blog post will address is the process school. The second school is the enterprise engineering school. The third school is a school in between the two former, which I will name the hybrid school. The practitioners works with an ideal that Enterprise Architecture isn’t solely a project / program process or a blue printing process.

The Process School

The process school and its practitioners are usually working with TOGAF, OIO EA or other framework (approach) that emphasize a program management and a project management methodology on adapting projects to support the Enterprise Architecture program.

It is needless to say that the process of adapting the projects to align with the principles of the Enterprise Architecture program is based on a set of continuous processes. These usually contains a set of strategy development, communication and execution. Likewise does most frameworks have an implicit form of evaluation before the process starts again.

The Enterprise Engineering School

The enterprise engineering school and its practitioners work with an idea that the enterprise can be build upon models or what can be defined as blue prints. The focus is to develop blueprints that can ensure the enterprise’s abilities to obtain models of governance, social systems and technology. The focus is to enforce a change program through a program management approach, but opposite the process school the enterprise engineering school doesn’t go into detail with the program or project management methodology.

In this case blueprinting is dealing with developing meta-models that interconnect the various approaches to governance.

The school of enterprise engineering and the process school are in contrast and in somehow conflict with one another in their approaches to Enterprise Architecture. In my opinion both schools can be of interest since both schools have some advantages that can be used in context of the enterprise.

With this in mind I will discuss the hybrid school.

Enterprise Architecture for the Hybrid School

In lack of better words I have chosen to name this school for hybrid school since the practitioners within this school don’t see the two former schools as pragmatic in their quests for practicing Enterprise Architecture and they combine both the process oriented methodology and the benefits of blueprinting.

As earlier mentioned the focus of the blueprinting is to create valid meta-models that can be used to communicate the current situation and the desired situation for the enterprise. The models are usually developed through a process of communication with the stakeholders and through the expertise of the chief architect and the enterprise architects. The enterprise architects applies a framework of which they identifies through a framework that has been selected or developed by the chief architect.

The process school deals with applying a program and project management methodology in order to establish a continuous process that enables that the enterprise’s corporate strategy can be crystallized.

The practitioners and the academics working with Enterprise Architecture establish a process for implementing the blue prints of the enterprise architecture.

The Hybrid school is of my opinion a suitable foundation for establishing an Enterprise Architecture program in almost any enterprises due to any Enterprise Architecture program have to be modified to deal with the individual situation for the individual enterprise. I believe that all enterprises are unique due to their employees, managers, executives and the story for how the enterprise has developed, and all of these elements have an impact on how the enterprise is able to deal with the competition. The degree of competition has a intern a significant impact on how many resources that the enterprise is able to adapt new technologies, processes and people in order to gain advantages that might or might not lead to competitive advantages.

The stakeholders in each of the enterprises sees the world differently and it can’t be an advantage to lock the Enterprise Architecture approach to one particular approach if what is needed is an approach that can deal with both project methodology and blueprinting.

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