Enterprise Architecture as Strategy is a book that will be useful to both business managers and information technology managers. The book does not describe technology in detail, but instead offers a best-practice strategy for companies who want to ensure their business processes and information technology architecture are structured for future growth and agility.
The book starts by discussing the problems that many businesses have of silo systems and redundant data. It then draws on case studies from surveys involving more than 400 companies to propose a business-led enterprise architecture strategy. I felt this book offered a clear strategy that seems achievable, practicable and focused.
The authors show how companies can consider their direction based on a series of models. These include:
Operating model - allowing the company to consider how integrated and standardised its processes and systems need to be. For many companies the enterprise architecture strategy involves producing lots of diagrams and analyses of existing and hoped-for system capabilities; far better, the authors found, to consider the operating model and then focus on processes, data, technologies and customer interfaces that will enable this to be realised.
Enterprise architecture model - defining how the business processes and information technology infrastructure will be organised to reflect the operating model. The authors offer an easily grasped and intuitive structure for mapping the enterprise architecture. The stages that companies should go through in order to reach the architectural goal are also considered.
IT engagement model - governance mechanisms that will ensure that the company and its information technology projects achieve both local and company-wide objectives. The authors draw on best-practice case studies to offer advice and recommendations.
I do not recall reading another business book in recent years which I found more intellectually stimulating...and practical. Where to begin? Perhaps the most appropriate approach would be to quote the authors. In their Preface, Ross, Weill, and Robertson suggest that, until now, research and executive education have failed to make a breakthrough in understanding and improving IT architecture efforts. They then recall Albert Einstein's observation, "The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them." What do the authors recommend? "The focus needs to be higher - on [in italics] enterprise architecture [end italics], the organizing logic for core business processes and IT infrastructure reflecting the standardization and integration of a company's operating model...[Therefore] enterprise architecture boils down to these two concepts: business process integration and business process standardization. In short, enterprise architecture is not an IT issue - it's a business issue."
Ross, Weill, and Robertson arrived at their conclusions after rigorous and extensive research which revealed what certain top-performing organizations do and how they do it. In this volume, they share what they learned so that other organizations can be guided and informed in their efforts to improve their own performance. More specifically, they respond to questions such as these:
1. What are the most common symptoms ("warning signs") of an inadequate foundation for execution?
2. Which three disciplines must be mastered in order to build one which is solid?
3. What are the key dimensions of an appropriate business model?
4. How to implement the operating model via enterprise architecture?
5. What are the four stages of enterprise architecture development and how must each be navigated?
6. What are the specific benefits during the implementation of the enterprise architecture?
7. When establishing a foundation for execution, why is it best to build it "one project at a time"?
8. How can - and should - enterprise architecture be helpful when outsourcing?
9. How to leverage its foundation for profitable growth?
10. What are the "Top Ten Leadership Principles" for creating and exploiting a foundation for execution?
With regard to the last question, it is important to keep in mind that Ross, Weill, and Robertson's recommendations refer to enterprise-wide initiatives. Therefore, there must be effective leadership at all levels and in all areas of a given organization while creating a foundation for business execution. Everyone involved must be committed to the foundation, help to identify and remove barriers to progress, "feed the core" with continuous experimentation, use the architecture as a "compass and communication tool," and collaborate with others while proceeding through each stage. These are the capabilities of exemplary companies such as Merrill Lynch Global Private Client, Dow Chemical, JM Family Enterprises, and TD Bankworth. "And what makes [these capabilities] a competitive advantage is that only a small percentage of companies do it well - we estimate 5 percent of firms or less." I presume to suggest that the material in this book is relevant to all organizations, regardless of size or nature. Even with their differences in terms of scale and available resources, they face the same challenge: effective application of the principles recommended by the authors.
In the final chapter, Ross, Weill, and Robertson identify and briefly discuss a number of pressures that will make a foundation for execution even more important in the coming years. They explain why companies which have learned how to implement and manage standardized and integrated processes are best prepared for the realities of the marketplace. "A foundation for execution allows a company to automate predictable processes so management can focus on higher-value tasks like innovating, partnering, and identifying new opportunities. The foundation empowers employees and enriches jobs by reducing redundant and tedious tasks while providing the information needed to innovate and customize."
After reading this brilliant book, many executives will conclude that their organization lacks a solid foundation for business execution. They will have become convinced by Ross, Weill, and Robertson of the importance of enterprise architecture as strategy. Now they are not only willing but eager to enlist the support of others to engage their organization in what is certain to be a difficult (albeit essential) "design and construction" process. However, people need to be convinced. They usually have the same two questions: "Why must we do this?" and "What's in it for me?" Fortunately, everything needed to answer these two questions is provided in the final chapter and the same material will also be invaluable during the preparation of a formal proposal to obtain institutional support throughout the given enterprise.
To Ross, Weill, and Robertson, I offer "Bravo!"
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out James O'Toole and Edward E. Lawler III's The New American Workplace, Lawler and Christopher G. Worley's Built to Change, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee's Resonant Leadership, and George S. Day and Paul J.H. Schoemaker's Peripheral Vision.
on 7 June 2010
If you are involved in defining Enterprise Architectural Solutions for large organisation, publicly owned or government bodies then I would recommend reading this book.
I have for, many years, made use of Architectural process frameworks such as TOGAF and IAF in shaping the high level approach to defining an enterprise architecture and although this book is not aimed specifically at these it does provides a large number of considerations that I believe should appear in high level architecture definition.
Understanding of the organisational model, the maturity of the IT and how it aligns with the business model (as-is and to-be), is key to both determining and justifying technical solutions. This thinking would be beneficial to be factored into considerations made in the TOGAF 9 Preliminary and Architecture Vision phases of architecture definition which define the Contextual characteristics of the Enterprise Architecture.
The book includes good examples in the areas of Organisation Models, Architecture Maturity, Business and IT Engagement as well as providing an architecture maturity migration path.
If you are interested in SOA and ESB then this also provides hooks to link your thinking into as it also includes the perspectives of shared services, data integration and standardisation in the definitions of operating models and architecture maturity.
hope that helps.
on 12 December 2010
I don't know why but I had been trying to "avoid" this book for a while; then I had to read it, it was simply referenced by too many other publications ;-). And it was worth it!
I think the key value of the book is the fact that it introduces and describes the details of the 4 key operating models (Diversification, Replication, Coordination, Unification) that businesses can embrace, depending of the level of standardisation and unification of their processes. Other parts of the book do not carry in my opinion the same weight, the strength of the book is in defining key ideas more than explaining how to "do" enterprise architecture.
on 3 September 2012
I feel I have little to add to what others have already said extensively here. I'll just say that it is a very interesting book on capabilities, execution, strategy and EA, and one that probably needs rereading as the thinking is intense here. Needless to say, as one'd expect, the book is tech-agnostic, and rightly so, as this is not about technology choices. It's about building capabilities, business modelling, EA.
I read this like one year before becoming a TOGAF certified member and it certainly put some bases there. Getting back to it after TOGAF made it clearer too, and I recommended to the other guys in the classroom. The book is no doubt well researched and the grids help in visualizing categories that are important to keep in mind.
It's true that the book wants to be a hand book for flawless execution, but there is no such thing. The world is not rosy most of the time and there are no silver bullets or perfect maps. It servers as a platonic ideal then, the path of the wise and holy that you strive to keep to, but you will stray and find issues where the book will not help. However, if you take this utopianism with a pinch of salt, I really believe the book will introduce you to a lot of useful guidance on stragety and EA.
If anything hand over to your boss the 10 leadership principles at the end of the book. Now, that's great guidance.
on 19 November 2013
Enterprise Architecture As Strategy is perhaps the most quoted book on the topics. Online forums on the topic quote this as one of the few really good references on the topic; and I agree.
The authors do a great job of introducing and packaging concepts in Enterprise Architecture - operating model, maturity model, core diagrams, IT engagement model - that are referenced by EA practitioners, consultants and academics alike. The case studies based on academic research of over "200 companies" keeps the narrative grounded.
Who is this book for?
* Practicing Enterprise Architects and EA consultants will find the topics and case studies refreshing. It certainly got me reflecting on my employer's target operating model
* The book speaks to business executives as much as it does to EA practitioners. Executives will also find it a handy reference that can equip them to "govern" IT strategies
* Those looking to get into EA (many IS/Technical Architects, business analysts and process consultants) will find the book a good introduction to EA "big picture" topics; and perhaps an introduction to some consulting jargon
The book is not an EA "cook book" or a "how to" guide. Unfortunately, learning how-to-do-EA will only come with experience and a few grey hair.
(also re-posted on my blog and Amazon.com)
on 5 October 2010
This book is the contains the first usable description of the Enterprise Architecture process, value and outputs I have found, in a single volume, using jargon free language.
The remainder of the book is given over to providing templates and categorisations of Target Operating Models, Enterprise Architectures, EA maturity models and evaluation methods, all based on research, case studies and quotes from executives and IT leaders interviewed by the authors.
Cannot recommend highly enough.
on 24 October 2013
Absolutely vital guide for designing a realistic road-map for delivering "information technology" in alignment with the business strategy. The authors have done an excellent job in drawing on their experiences to clearly explain, in practical terms, how to integrate the IT function into the business vision. It looks at how to maximise the value of existing IT assets and how to invest in IT to reduce failure of mission critical systems, resulting in adverse impact to your costs, margins, customer service and decision-making capabilities.
It also highlights key issues raised by poor business perception of IT and how an IT/Business Engagement Model can be established to tackle these.
Must have for anyone who is involved in the business of delivering or investing in IT at a strategic, enterprise wide level (As an IT Manager, Senior Finance Manager or a Change/Project Manager).