Tips for successful Enterprise Architecture tool adoption
Guest blog written by Eddie Walker, director at Edifit
Enterprise Architecture tools offer a platform to transform your architecture capability. Like any other system rollout, outcomes depend on managing the necessary business change to ensure successful adoption. Here are some tips based on our experiences.
- Prioritize the outcomes you want to achieve
Be clear on the outcomes you wish to achieve, prioritize them, and pick a suitable subset for the initial release. Allow your stakeholders to put forward their suggestions and manage a development backlog, which should be clearly communicated.You don’t need to deliver everything in the first release – but you must ensure that what is delivered ‘resonates’ to generate buy-in with key stakeholders. Don’t be seduced into modeling content just because you can. Model only what is relevant to the outcome.
- Keep your approach simple
If your modeling approach seems simple, you’re probably on the right track. Over time the approach will evolve and become more sophisticated, but only as the need arises.Initially, minimize the concepts and relations in your metamodel. Keep to a minimal set of attributes, viewpoints, and deliverables. All should be created only in response to fulfilling the prioritized need. Your architecture processes should clearly describe how and when modeling activities will be undertaken as part of the wider architecture service proposition.
- Be consistent in your approach
Once you’ve defined a simple approach, it’s imperative that everyone follows it. Ideally, set up rules to check and verify modeling consistency to stop bad habits from forming.Remember that successful adoption requires a business change within your core team – it’s easier to train your team to model consistently if the approach is simple. What’s more, it will be less intimidating for them and easier for everyone to embrace the new approach.Consistency ensures that you can analyze your models. The analysis will provide the facts and evidence required to support your decision-making – a key value proposition of a model-driven architecture approach.
- Use language your stakeholders understand
Good architecture is only as good as your ability to communicate it. Once you have sufficient facts to make evidence-based recommendations, be sure to present them in a way that your stakeholders will understand. Experiment with different output formats and seek regular feedback to ensure you’re hitting the right note.Your stakeholders are probably not interested in the details, nor do they care about the purity of your model, so dilute the architecture techno-babel and distill it into clear and simple messages. For stakeholders of a more forensic disposition, enable self-service capabilities so that they can conduct their analysis.
- Use a federated, but integrated, approach to data management
For your architectural recommendations to have gravitas, they must consider the key impacts and dependencies across the solution space. Use your modeling tool as an operational data store, aggregating data from numerous sources and locations to help make ‘joined-up’ decisions.It’s important to ensure that the data within your model is fit-for-purpose and credible. Adopt a federated, but integrated, approach to data management. Clearly articulate the key data sources for your model and who owns the master data – it probably isn’t you! Apply good information management practices to load the data required to inform decision-making. Only update and retain data as necessary to satisfy continuing stakeholder needs.Remember that stale data kills credibility – if you cannot guarantee the continuing accuracy of the data, you shouldn’t be using it in your models.
- Join the dots to get to the insights
Models can be extremely powerful. They provide a simplified view of the world to inform analysis and decision-making. Ultimately though, models are just a bunch of boxes and lines.In most enterprises, there is generally a solid understanding of the boxes within each domain. Your job, as an architect, is to (help to) draw the lines. Joining the dots invariably identifies some previously overlooked insight. These insights will be the cornerstone of your architecture value proposition.
Enterprise Architecture tools, when correctly embedded into your ways of working, are a game-changer for your architecture capability. If you’d like to know more, please get in touch.
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About the author:
Eddie Walker is a Director at Edifit , a BiZZdesign partner and reseller for more than 10 years. Edifit provides architecture advisory services, Enterprise Architecture managed services, modeling support, and training for enterprise architecture teams. Edifit also offers software add-ins for BiZZdesign Enterprise Studio that enhance model-driven architecture approaches.