5 steps to developing your EA program strategy

Many Enterprise Architecture programs get started with a vague charter, unclear expectations, but with a goal of being useful. They immediately get bogged down.

While EA programs may be useful, they do not build a solid foundation for advancing the EA practice.

Charters continue to remain vague, and expectations become set based on the last visible thing EA did.

Strategy separates a successful EA practice from a busy EA practice and is a critical part of the overall effort to build a high-performance EA program.

More importantly, an EA practice that sets its vision on being business-focused, strategic, and pragmatic must have a strategy to achieve this vision simply because roles, skills, processes, and relationships all have to add up.

A strategy looks at EA's current-state capabilities and the larger organizational context, constructs an appropriate mission, and lays out all the elements necessary to achieve that mission.

A strategy for high-performance EA defines the key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure progress and results.

A well-communicated and well-executed strategy builds significantly more credibility than any amount of firefighting or chasing down of hot issues.

Developing Your EA Strategy Step By Step
Forrester’s recent EA Practice Playbook, a programmatic, end-to-end framework for EA initiatives, provides five steps to developing your strategy (see diagram). 

 

Step 1: Develop Your Mission And Target Value Proposition
Using the assessment of your stakeholders, their specific objectives, and your analysis of the persistent underlying issues the organization faces, develop your organization-specific vision and mission.

Use a combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches:  Bottom-up development identifies specific goals with clear business value.

Top-down development harmonizes objectives into a consistent mission.

Step 2: Describe Your Target-State Capabilities
A business capability map is an invaluable tool to for developing a strategy. This is as true for EA as it is for a business.

The enterprise architecture capability map describes the capabilities that deliver on an EA mission.

Related:

To describe your target-state EA capabilities, apply your mission, objectives, and value proposition to each capability in three phases:

1) Set the goal for each capability
2) identify external dependencies necessary to achieve the goal
3) assess which EA capabilities must change most radically

Step 3: Define EA Services
Defining EA services provides value by elucidating the specifics necessary to support the strategy.

The process is simple:

 - Describe the services necessary for each capability outcome
 - Describe the service internals
 - Identify what deliverables are produced
 - Identify what roles and skills are needed for the deliverables
 - Identify the engagement model
 - Identify what processes are necessary to produce the deliverables and help service customers use them

Step 4: Consolidate Deliverables, Processes, Roles And Skills f the target-state EA
With the previous step, you'll have role and skills, processes implications, and deliverables all organized by EA service.

This implies a certain amount of overlap and duplication, which your typical resource-constrained EA organization will not be able to support.

Bring together all the roles, processes, and deliverables from all services and harmonize to develop a single view of the roles, skills, process changes, and deliverables your high-performance EA program needs.

You will also develop a consolidated view of the changes to address external dependencies, such as your firm's project portfolio management processes.

Step 5: Select Key Performance Metrics For Monitoring Strategy Execution
As part of the strategy definition, determine which key performance metrics are necessary to manage EA program effectiveness, and which metrics and reporting are necessary to key stakeholders and beneficiaries informed and engaged in the execution of specific initiatives.

Look at two different types of key performance indicators:

1) Metrics for specific objectives.
Objective-oriented metrics show progress and value of EA initiatives and services as they relate to stakeholder goals and needs.

2) Performance measurements for the EA program itself.
Heads of the EA program itself such as the staff, processes, and deliverables, as well as the key sponsors of the EA program should use metrics to monitor and improve the program. 

Alex is vice president and research director at Forrester Research serving Enterprise Architecture Professionals. Alex blogs at: http://blogs.forrester.com/alex_cullen.

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