I always thought Enterprise Architecture was an oxymoron. All I needed to do was find a book that described in words, rather than my pastel pictures, this fact I'd invented. This book doesn't endorse my theory but it does suggest, like me, that many companies do get their strategy confused, especially when it has to be described in terms of ever changing technology. Well, it's not so much confused but more like dyslexia. EA is an over abused word.
In Enterprise Architecture as Strategy the team of authors (Ross, Weil, Robertson) describe in well-linked narrative what enterprise architecture is and how you define one. One might think this is all old hat, books of this title fall into: frameworks/patterns, handbooks/guides, manuals either infrastructure or development specific. One could naturally think this material is covered in detail and most have the issue wrapped. I would argue from listening to Jeanne Ross speak prior to the recent Tech Ready and more importantly from reading this book that this book sheds new light, on how to approach enterprise architecture.
General Theme And Book Style
The main theme of the book is the understanding of the foundation of business execution that creates a platform for successful innovation. The authors describe the big dig, the biggest public works project in US history, an ambitious and consequently well over budget restructuring of the Boston highway and associated problems. The same problems faced in this project are, the book suggests, no different than those faced on most enterprises.
The key points are to understand the foundation for executing core competencies, define the operating model, apply enterprise architecture, prioritise, set IT engagement model and finally exploit the foundation for growth.
What are my main points about the book?
I enjoyed the writing style of the book, on one level because there are few words and lots of relevant pictures, but on another because it had a clearly defined progressive approach to lead the reader to the conclusions of the research.
- Based on careful, longer term studies of companies
Household a nd bespoke cross industry names spanning 5-15years. Realistic, companies that are not all success stories are discussed with real money, real team structures and understandable business problems. It uses small sample data and will make unflattering justifiable statements that more mature architectures cost more money.
- Discusses problems and solutions in terms of business strategy
It starts with business first not technology diagrams. How a real business used a strategy to their benefit and with what challenges and outcomes. When originally hearing Jeanne speak I misunderstood or perhaps later misinterpreted the operating model for business modularity. Mature architectural solutions don't have to be a unified operating model
- Describes in steps what should be done and what the pitfalls are
Be honest it's a bit light on the justification side of the model. For example the book insists there must be one dominant operating model which does seem sensible but it's a big pre-requisite for the strategy put forward in the book.
First and foremost, it is important, no critical, for a successful relationship to understand the customer (not the problem not the tools, not the functional spec or the infrastructure diagram etc.). If we are to help customers realise their potential we need to understand first what they are their core competencies are. Secondly we should understand how the engagement should benefit them in the longer term goal of architectural maturity. I would agree with the book when it says that architectural initiatives can be driven successfully by being outsourced and the development of in house architectural capability is essential in architectural decision making. The book discusses what is a good engagement, the measurables for partnerships, for PMs, it talks about IT governance issues and who should design an enterprise architecture.
A good technical book I feel is one that makes the reader empathise with the subject matter. "we became very good at scrambling to meet demands... but eventually we had to admit that we were out of magic dust"
On a personal level its gives me the "warm and fuzzies", because I know that I don't, or shouldn't be, a genius to understand the enterprise architecture of a company and ideally it should fit, diagrammatically, on one page. It also helps me in a role by creating a clear difference between what is an IT architecture and what is an enterprise architecture.
It will tell you who should do what at which stages, and what are the signs of an ineffective strategy. It's up to the reader to pull out what they would do to make strategy effective.
Overall 4 star out of a possible 5.
I bought my copy from Booktopia