How an enterprise roadmap will help you respond to change in today’s technical jungle
The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the past year has seen unprecedented change in how we live and work.
With available investment capital dwindling to hedge against further shocks, it is important to ensure that you make the most of the technology that you already have, whilst establishing the further investments that you will need to make in order to succeed.
For many organisations, this prompts the question - how well do you understand your enterprise technology, and are you clear on how your technology investments support your strategic goals?
A world of change
The average enterprise runs over 900 applications across a range of in-house, cloud, and ‘- as a service’ hosting, so it is not surprising that many organisations find it difficult to keep track of the technology that they already have. Something that proves even more difficult for organisations is maintaining a handle on all of their internal change programmes running at any given time. A poorly understood enterprise acts as a barrier to change, slowing down procurement, missing re-use opportunities with existing tech, and failing to support business strategies as a result of shadow IT.
An enterprise architect should be managing a clear roadmap of all of the change that is occurring within their organisation, working closely with business and technology leaders to make sure that strategic business aims are well understood. It is important to align these aims to real value for the organisation, focusing time and resources on what will make the most effective difference to the business. In the words of Gartner, “EA is a discipline for proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analysing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes”.
It is important to note that all of this change comes at a cost. Investment in a rapidly diverging set of enterprise technologies means that costs will continue to rise, and not only the cost of the tech itself, but also procuring, securing, integrating, and managing it. This creates redundant capabilities, where the solutions that are brought in are often seen to overlap in coverage. The result is the entrenching of silos within your business, where different parts end up doing the same processes in different ways, and by using different solutions. This can have a significant impact on operational performance and result in confusion for your end customers.
Change is only as effective as how it is managed, and requires informed governance and technology assurance from an enterprise architecture team spanning across various business areas. This will enable your organisation to anticipate the impacts of wider change on the business and be proactive in how your architecture roadmap is maintained.
The challenge of managing a large degree of change in today’s businesses should lie with a mature, well-resourced enterprise architecture function.This central function should act as a bridge between the business and technology people in your organisation, helping to improve business effectiveness and ensure activities are underpinned by the right technology.
A mature architecture function means that architectural considerations are at the forefront of decision making, with a clear way to measure delivered value and return on investment. A clear, universally applied, and properly assured set of technology standards should be adopted across the organisation. This helps establish a common purpose across your change programmes and delivers harmonious technology solutions that can inter-operate easily. To deliver this, enterprise architects must be embedded across the business, working with internal and third party delivery teams to provide technical expertise and improve programme outcomes.
A strong team of architects is critical for providing technical assurance and support across your organisation’s change programmes. Not only will this improve the quality of the IT underlying strategic products and services, but it will provide a better control of change and result in improved implementation results from IT partners.
A number of clients today buy ‘passive client’ services from suppliers, where the supplier takes complete control over their internal change programmes. To keep people engaged and to make the most out of the investment, it is important to retain an ‘intelligent client’ architecture capability that can challenge and assure solution implementations. This will help to reduce the risk of programmes running over or delivering products that are not aligned to your technology roadmap. A strict adherence to an overall plan also helps to break the silos so commonly found between delivery programmes – flagging dependencies, overlaps, and opportunities to bring compound benefit to your whole organisation.
In a nutshell
A mature enterprise architecture capability brings real benefits to your organisation; it provides a focus for your technology and delivers business transformations that the whole organisation agrees upon. It helps to improve delivery outcomes and bridges the gaps between your business areas. For many organisations, however, starting out on a journey to maturity can seem a daunting prospect. We recommend the following simple steps to help drive the right behaviours and get you started:
Agree a joint roadmap of change that both business and technical leads can agree on and deliver to;
Establish a centre of excellence for enterprise architecture, to set up the right tooling, standards, and governance for managing change;
Ensure everything that you do is clearly mapped back to business value, getting you a step closer to your strategic goals.
For more information on how we can help you in your business transformation journey, and to learn more about our more than 30 years of successful delivery, please contact us or visit our Transformation page.