Enterprise Architecture for Decision-Makers: Seven Tips

Jan 6, 2021
Written by
Remco Blom
Remco Blom

Enterprise Architecture for Decision-Makers: Seven Tips

Most enterprise architects believe that Enterprise Architecture is a relevant discipline for members of the board. However, CxO’s often aren’t really of the same opinion. We believe that is because they do not usually experience the true value of architecture. What can an architect do to improve this? Below we present seven useful tips.

1. Build awareness actively
Provide some context for your audience: connect architectural issues to the real world. People, applications, problems in the here and now will be more understandable and lively than abstract boxes and lines. Decision-makers hardly ever make decisions on their own. Consider them as a Decision Making Unit (DMU), and influence other DMU’s around the key player, with EA messages. Make it personal. Meet managers in interviews, departmental meetings and in informal settings to get to know them and invest in the relationship.

2. Enterprise Architecture is about investment
Don’t focus too much on the construction, but rather position EA close to the investment portfolio. Be active and help at the start of projects, consider overarching (integration) issues and build trust. You bring the quality aspect and long term agenda to the portfolio discussions.

3. Present concrete problems and concrete results
Illustrate the issues and options with real life use cases. “This is patient John, who comes in with a heart attack. We don’t know John, we don’t understand his current drug use, we don’t have his recent cardiograms at hand. Of course we do what we can, but is this ideal?”

4. Focus on architecture effects, not architecture and methods
Important EA standards such as TOGAF, ArchiMate and even BPMN are really relevant to mature your EA practice. But not very interesting for decision-makers… Present scenarios, give advice, and let decision makers do what they do best: make decisions.

5. Present €$£¥’s, risk and time
Construction is of little interest to managers. Most like to talk about money (both cost and potential revenue), risk and speed. Can you present this as an overlay on your models?

6. Use simple diagrams
A complex, so called spider web diagram is very useful to show your landscape is complex. But don’t expect the manager to look too much into it. Simple, attractive sketches, starting from a business perspective have been proven to work in the boardroom. We have good examples of using Business Models as a starting point for EA (effect) discussions.

7. Take it step-by-step
Start by being solution oriented (in project), then problem/outcome oriented (in programs on “in control”, application rationalization”, etc.) and move onto being strategy oriented. Earn your position, don’t claim it!

These tips will help you to be more successful in creating understanding and commitment for Enterprise Architecture!