Enterprise architecture strategy

Written by
Reviewed by
Jeeps Rekhi
Jeeps Rekhi

Enterprise architecture strategy

Enterprise architecture management resource center

Learn from our guide how to optimize your enterprise architecture strategy and connect different departments, processes, and systems to direct strategic change.

1. Introduction

An enterprise architecture strategy aligns an organization’s technology infrastructure, applications, data, and processes with its business objectives and goals. It deals with the structure of an organization’s technology landscape to inform the design of how it can be improved to enable the execution of the business goals.

When designing an enterprise architecture strategy, ensure it aligns with and supports your organization’s business strategy. Therefore, defining your organization’s business capabilities is often a first step in your enterprise architecture strategy.

Once business capabilities are defined, your enterprise architecture practice may use other disciplines to realize the required changes in your business capabilities. These may include:

  • Application portfolio management to select and invest in the applications that will best support the achievement of your strategic objectives and roadmap
  • Solution architecture management to ensure that the IT solutions delivered align with the specific metrics and outcomes that are important for the business
  • Business process management to optimize what your staff (supported by technology) do to accomplish your organization’s overall goals.

In this guide, we give you overall tips on how to kick-start an enterprise architecture strategy.

READ: Learn about strategic alignment for your enterprise architecture strategy

2. Importance of enterprise architecture in business growth 

When looking at an enterprise architecture strategy, it’s essential to discuss the importance of enterprise architecture in business growth. Why should organizations specifically look at the enterprise architecture management team to drive business growth?
Enterprise architecture allows your organization to design, plan, and execute change and innovation.

According to the Open Group, “Enterprise architecture in its widest sense includes much more than IT. It covers business operations, finance, people, and buildings in addition to technology, and it covers technologies other than IT, such as manufacturing or transport.” [1]
Strategy development processes and business planning cycles surface many opportunities to help an organization increase revenue, reduce costs and manage risk. However, in their book The Balanced Scorecard, David Norton and Robert Kaplan note that 90 percent of organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully[2]. So, there is a disconnect between the strategies companies create and the people, processes and technologies that implement those strategies.

By designing the changes needed to organization operating models, driven by the business strategy, enterprise architecture can deliver effective and efficient strategy execution. Moreover, enterprise architecture is a discipline based on widely known and accepted concepts and practices – making it transparent and based on proven approaches.

By identifying the impact of change on business and technology landscapes, enterprise architects can inform decisions on investment allocation, risk management, and growth strategies.

READ: Building an effective data management strategy for your EAM capability

3. Key components of a successful enterprise architecture strategy 

  1. Understand your organization
    The first step is to understand the context and drivers for your enterprise architecture strategy – your current organization and how it wants to change (its goals and strategies). A useful starting place is the business model, which is how your enterprise delivers value to its customers cost-effectively. You can use a Business Model Canvas based on the book by Alexander Osterwalder [3] to define this.IMAGETo understand your organization’s goals and strategies, tools such as the Business Motivation Model from the Object Management Group (OMG) [4] can articulate the key aims such as objectives, activities and success measures. This strategy interpretation is essential to inform your enterprise architecture strategy accurately.
  2. Define what enterprise architecture aims to achieve
    Once you know what your organization wants to achieve, you need to create objectives for the enterprise architecture strategy that support the execution of the business strategy. These objectives need to focus on the activities that enterprise architects can do and are likely to be topics discussed for many years within the organization.
  3. Design how to achieve your enterprise architecture objectives
    This is only part of the enterprise architecture strategy that describes architecture. You’ll likely need to describe key artifacts for your business stakeholders, such as value streams, capability models, and process architectures. You’ll also require key artifacts for your IT stakeholders, such as application landscapes, enterprise data models, and security architectures.
    The enterprise architecture strategy must illustrate how you’ll create and apply architecture artifacts and approaches to deliver the organization’s strategy and realize the planned benefits. Therefore, you’ll need roadmaps and plans for your artifacts to persuade others, especially senior stakeholders, that your enterprise architecture strategy is real and delivers its benefits on time and within the dependencies of the organization’s strategy.

4. Building an effective enterprise architecture framework

RELATED WIKI: Enterprise architecture frameworks

There are a number of enterprise architecture frameworks that are described in the enterprise architecture frameworks wiki, but here, we are going to focus on some of the key aspects to consider.

As we’ve discussed in previous chapters, a Business Capability Map and Value Streams can be used as a key component of an effective enterprise architecture framework. The diagram below shows the Value Streams and Capabilities that a typical enterprise architecture function is asked to do.

Identify your enterprise architecture management practice’s value streams, from strategy to enterprise design. Then, identify your practice’s capabilities, understand their maturity and priorities, and how they relate to other elements. Assess the gaps in your capabilities and define a roadmap with enterprise architecture goals for a specific time period, such as a year.

A common question is whether to use a top-down or bottom-up approach to architecture. Your enterprise architecture framework is required to do both. It needs to interpret the top-level corporate strategy to drive the business architecture. It needs to create IT artifacts (e.g. applications, data, infrastructure) and change artifacts (e.g. requirements, roadmaps) that drive frontline delivery. The added complexity is that the architecture needs to evolve based on the reality found at the frontline.

The final critical aspect of your enterprise architecture framework is that it needs to be ‘consumable’ by your stakeholders. This does not mean that your stakeholders need to learn about architecture frameworks, but instead that you need to re-write your content to the language your stakeholder prefers. For example, it is not enough to write an application architecture – you need to ensure that it is detailed enough to handover to engineering teams with all the details they need to do the build. An additional constraint is that you must deliver these artifacts according to the timeframe for your stakeholders’ needs.

READ: ArchiMate 3.0 – Strategy Concepts and Capability-Based Planning


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5. Benefits of aligning enterprise architecture with business objectives

Aligning enterprise architecture strategy with business objectives offers multiple benefits. First, it ensures traceability to ensure your enterprise architecture management is aligned with the organization. Secondly, the language used in enterprise architecture will align with the terminology that senior stakeholders use. Moreover, if there is a change in the business objectives it is clearer how that impacts your enterprise architecture frameworks and artifacts.

To illustrate how you can align enterprise architecture objectives with strategies, we will use some examples. Many corporate strategies focus on customer experience to raise revenue, developing the working environment to retain staff, and operational excellence to reduce costs. The supporting enterprise architecture strategies could have corresponding objectives around the digital transformation to streamline the customer journey, a modern workplace to facilitate flexible working, and application consolidation to rationalize the estate. It is these achievements that will describe to your stakeholders what the benefits are from enterprise architecture management.

Nonetheless, aligning enterprise architecture strategy with business objectives may seem straightforward, but it can be challenging to align holistic changes with the languages used by one business division. For example, master data management enables many abilities (e.g. product catalog management, single view of the customer). Still, persuading business units of the need for such a large investment can be very hard. In these situations, ensure that your communications focus on the needs and language of the stakeholders you are talking to.

However, some architecture objectives are clearly understood and accepted by most stakeholders. An obvious example is focusing your enterprise architecture strategy on optimizing and rationalizing your application portfolio to make effective investment decisions.

READ: Why you need future state design: application portfolio management plus

6. Strategies for implementing enterprise architecture in large organizations 

The strength of the enterprise architect is precisely in that they know how to connect different levels and disciplines in the organization. An enterprise architect works from the current situation, focusing on the question: where are we going? The enterprise architect is central to connecting different teams and business functions.

Strategies for implementing enterprise architecture in large organizations often focus on, among others:

  • Capability-based planning: as we’ve mentioned before, this discipline should often be the starting point of your enterprise architecture strategy
  • Application portfolio management: the use case for this discipline often focuses on cloud transformation, mergers and acquisitions, and cost optimization.
    READ The real benefit of application portfolio management
  • Business process management: Allows your organization to design and manage a structure process architecture aligned with strategic business goals.
    READ The fundamentals of business process management

In large organizations, an enterprise architect always works with specialists, such as IT, data, security, solution architects and business analysts. However, it is not the intention that every specialist works in isolation on their island, and enterprise architects can help by joining up the knowledge from these different subject matter experts.

Using enterprise architecture tools and techniques can help organizations clearly model and interrelate the concept of most interest to them. For example, it can help understand the most important business services and successfully map out their dependencies across various dimensions of the enterprise.

An enterprise architecture tool can connect specialists, including business and management roles, by publishing information and enabling collaboration. They then gain access to visual information and self-service analytics tools that aid in optimizing business growth.

7. Measuring the success of your enterprise architecture strategy

Measuring the success of your enterprise architecture strategy can be done using different approaches. First, measure how your enterprise architecture strategy aligns with the organization’s business objectives. This can be done by evaluating how well the architecture supports achieving strategic goals and drives business value.

Assess the adoption and usage of the enterprise architecture framework and enterprise architecture tools within your organization. This can involve tracking the number of users, frequency of usage, and stakeholder feedback to gauge engagement and effectiveness.

Measure the impact of enterprise architecture on change projects and initiatives. This can be done by evaluating project delivery cost, timeframe and quality utilizing the enterprise architecture framework.

Track key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect the goals and objectives of your enterprise architecture strategy. This can include cost savings, time to deliver, and stakeholder satisfaction.

Finally, regularly review and refine the enterprise architecture strategy based on feedback, lessons learned, and changing business needs. This iterative approach ensures that your enterprise architecture strategy remains relevant and aligned with the evolving goals and objectives of the organization.

READ: Best practices for creating an agile EAM capability

8. Best practices for enterprise architecture governance

Best practices for enterprise architecture governance in the context of an enterprise architecture strategy may include:

RELATED WIKI: 10 top tips for best practices for architectural governance 

  • Clearly defining roles and responsibilities using, for example, the BIZBOK® Guide from the Business Architecture Guild.[5]
    An example of a roadmap showing the evolution of Capability-based Planning, starting from the OCIO (Office of the CIO)
  • Creating a dedicated team to enforce enterprise architecture governance.
  • Regularly reviewing your enterprise architecture strategy to identify areas for improvement. Using Dashboards in an enterprise architecture tool like Bizzdesign Horizzon can show how the enterprise architecture management practice contributes to value categories.

    In this dashboard, revenue generation is measured using hard numbers. Cost reduction is a soft number where there is a possibility to save a certain amount based on risk or cost avoidance.>

9. Role of enterprise architects in digital transformation

The role of enterprise architects in digital transformation can never be underestimated. An enterprise architecture strategy helps to align technology initiatives with business objectives. In doing so, architects create room for innovation by reducing organizational complexity and facilitating change.

Digital transformations are wide-ranging in scope, and enterprise architects can bring together their expertise in technology, strategy, and organizational dynamics to align digital initiatives with business goals and operational technology.

Architects can facilitate stakeholders in evaluating and selecting the right technologies to grow their business by developing the appropriate capabilities enabling customer value streams. Architects can pull together IT experts to design system integrations, manage data effectively, and meet security and risk requirements. Architects also have a role in establishing the technology standards for the digital estate that engineering teams will build. Architects can work with business stakeholders to manage organizational change and align to corporate governance frameworks. [6]

Without a solid enterprise architecture strategy, it will be hard for any of today’s organizations to coordinate the enterprise architecture work so that it delivers against the organization’s strategy and drives the changes needed at the ground level to execute the strategy. In short, an enterprise architecture strategy is critical to drive and deliver digital transformations successfully.

WATCH: Succeed at transformation design with capability mapping webinar

[1] https://www.opengroup.org/soa/source-book/soa/p2.htm
[2] https://www.intellibridge.us/90-percent-of-organizations-fail-to-execute-their-strategies-successfully
[3] https://www.alexosterwalder.com/
[4] https://www.omg.org/spec/BMM/1.3/About-BMM
[5] https://www.businessarchitectureguild.org/
[6] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/enterprise-architects-role-digital-transformation-manon

Enterprise architecture strategy

Jeeps is a Senior Business and enterprise Architect, delivering business change for over 25 years within large corporates, consultancies, marketing agencies, and several start-ups. He has worked across the full lifecycle from strategy to execution and developed specialisms in data and digital transformation. He has been the UK Community Lead for the Business Architecture Guild, examined Business Analysis for the British Computer Society (BCS), and is a Trustee for a mental health charity.







Frequently asked questions on enterprise architecture strategy

1. What is an enterprise architecture strategy and why is it important?

An enterprise architecture strategy aligns an organization’s technological infrastructure, applications, data, and processes with its business vision and objectives. It’s important because through this alignment, the technological landscape is enhanced and business outcomes are achieved.

2. What are the key components of a successful enterprise architecture strategy?

Essential elements of a robust enterprise architecture strategy encompass understanding the organization’s context and motivations, crafting a business model, assessing the implications of shifts on the business and technological terrains, and guiding decisions related to investment distribution, risk mitigation, and expansion plans.

How can I develop an effective enterprise architecture strategy?

For a successful enterprise architecture strategy:

  • Align with business goals
  • Engage stakeholders early
  • Prioritize flexibility and scalability
  • Use standardized frameworks (e.g., TOGAF)
  • Foster continuous communication
  • Incorporate change management
  • Regularly review and adapt
  • Emphasize clear governance structures
  • Invest in training and tools
  • Measure success with defined KPIs

Regularly review and adapt

Emphasize clear governance structures

Invest in training and tools

Measure success with defined KPIs

4. How can enterprise architecture strategy help organizations achieve their business goals?

Enterprise architecture strategy assists organizations in realizing their business objectives. It ensures alignment with business strategy, bridging the divide between goals and execution. This approach facilitates effective change, innovation, and decision-making by assessing the impact on the business and technological landscapes. It promotes efficient strategy implementation by redesigning the organization’s operating models based on the business strategy.

Additionally, it guides optimal resource allocation by determining the effects of change, helping in revenue maximization, cost reduction, and risk management.

5. How can you measure the effectiveness of your enterprise architecture strategy?

To measure the effectiveness of an enterprise architecture strategy, consider the following:

  • Examining the architecture’s alignment with strategic goals and its contribution to business value.
  • Determining the organization’s extent of adoption and utilization of the architectural framework.
  • Evaluating the architecture’s influence on change initiatives by analyzing delivery cost, duration, and quality.
  • Monitoring specific KPIs aligned with the strategy’s aims, including cost efficiency, delivery speed, and stakeholder contentment.
  • Continually revisiting and updating the strategy in light of feedback, insights, and evolving business requirements.