Start Your Enterprise Architecture Program

Recently I’ve been asked this same question over and over again. If I were to create enterprise architecture office, what would be my first steps? This endeavor can be approached from several directions. I would say that the first thing that is required for a program is to find your supporters in the organization.

In order to get support while in your current architecture role inside your company, you must approach the CIO, or another business executive responsible for strategy. You are looking for support for this concept as well as financial backing and time to work on setting up the program.

You will need a strong liaison on the business side in order to support your project as well. Often this comes from a financial office, or potentially the strategic planners in your company. Once you have decided or found your supporter you can take your next steps in staffing the program.

If you are an architect inside the organization who did the initial approach to your supporter, you will want to set up your role as the leader, or find the person who should take that position. If you are the CIO looking for a way to start a program, it may be your job to find a brand new enterprise architect from outside or grow one internally.

Find the chief architect or director of architecture next is usually best way to start. Handing a new EA your program and your vision will not likely have as good as a result as if they were initially involved. Starting group without a leader will most likely leave the issue to become a program later on.

After you have identified the leader, you can determine what their high level vision would be for a company like yours. You will need to determine what your goal or objective of any EA program if. Do you have a burning issue inside your organization that is driving your need for an EA program? Do you have a large project is burning out of control begging for enterprise architecture leadership?

If you’ve got specific IT initiatives for several new business strategies, this may be all you need in order to set goals and objectives for your program. If you’ve got a runaway IT organization lacking in consistent standards in applications, or in dire need of a technology overhaul, this may be your anchor. If you are looking to gain leverage using technology in your business, this could also drive your EA program start.

At the end of the day you’re going to need some high-level vision to align your group with the results you wish to deliver. Be sure to include things like enterprise decision-making and governance, risk avoidance, standardization & optimization of your infrastructure, as well as consolidation of efforts. Decision-making by a central group on enterprise-wide technology is also increasing as one of the biggest reasons drivers behind the group.

You will need to determine how your program will do the work, and which team you will assemble. We’ll assume that you assemble some existing resources from an architecture position, or are you going to have to hire externally or from amongst others in your organization that have architecture background.

There’s several ways to do this, and requires more details than I can expand on in this post. At this point you need to have an understanding with your supporter as to how much of your time will be spent on this program and how much others time you can have to get allocated.

You’ll also need a rough outline of what your first steps shall be and I would suggest that you map out at least the next 6 to 12 months. Anybody who will support you will want to know what your plans are in which you plan to do with the team.

I have typically used a multi-pronged approach in that I want to target issues that were outstanding, as well as one or two new initiatives that are strongly linked to providing value to the organization as soon as possible. I will be adding some video in the next few weeks that outlines some quick wins for a new start-up program, if you care to follow this thread.