How to Create Value and Business Alignment with Enterprise Architecture

One of the biggest or most frequently questions I am asked by Enterprise Architects is how do I create value for the business, or show that my enterprise architecture is worth it to the stakeholders.  The answer is simple, but not quite so straight forward to understand or to make happen.  One must align the solution, or the solution set align with business goals.  Easy right?

Ok, so I don’t come off quite so smug, here are a few steps one can take to get this done.  There are lots of little details, but my goal here today is so that one gets the general concept.   You’ll take a look at your business goals and determine which solutions you have or can create to make them reality.  Let’s say your company has a goal of cost savings, time saving, efficiency, tracking or accountability, you then take a look at the workflow necessary to achieve these goals.

Review the work flow around the process to achieve the goal, and then consider the inputs required if you were to create a solution, the output that would be necessary for the business stakeholders to get the answers or results they desire.  Think about the reports they desire for this information and who else would need this output – either a partner or another department.  Often there is a component that requires an enterprise to report on the financial aspect or the logistical details, and that must be considered as well.

Consider what I’ve just shared – you’ll need to have a resource that is knowledgeable about creating this capability for your company.  They’ll need business skills, documentation skills, modelling skills as well as the communication skills to extract this information from the business subject expert.  They will need the experience in putting such a documentation work together and then finally, the skills required to communicate this piece of art to the designers, architects and engineers that can build this.

Along the way, the business architect will communicate with the technical staff in what can be done, and back and forth with the business subject matter experts to ensure this is possible, as well as close to correct and current as possible.  Think about what is being built here — the architecture designed for the business will likely not change a lot, except where the company is about innovation,  but as new technology and systems come along, they can be updated, and upgraded.

Various systems can be integrated and this new asset to your business can be considered as an asset in your business, and finally shown as value in the work of business and enterprise architecture.