Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Enterprise Architecture

What exactly do enterprise architects do?

What they generally do is plan, design and govern systems and other artefacts, based on abstract models of the business. They may be responsible for things that support the enterprise, they may be responsible for things whose scope extends across the enterprise, but they are not responsible for the enterprise itself.

What they don't generally do is architect the enterprise. The key decisions that affect the geometry of the enterprise are generally taken at board level, and involve major decisions about mergers, acquisitions and spin-offs, product platform and strategy. Does Fred Goodwin (boss of Royal Bank of Scotland) consult an enterprise architect to work out the potential synergies and structural implications of acquiring ABN Amro? I think not.

In other words, most enterprise architects practise business-oriented architecture, but not architecture-oriented business.

Given that enterprise architects don't actually architect the enterprise, and given that their function is closer to city planning and governance than true architecture, Nick Malik suggests that they should be called something else. [Nick Malik: Go Build an Enterprise Architecture. Neil Ward-Dutton sympathizes with the suggestion, but thinks it may be Swimming against the tide.]

Why not call them planners?

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