What is Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM)?

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Reviewed by
Matthijs Scholten
Matthijs Scholten


Learn how to use enterprise architecture management to accelerate business transformation – get tips on setting up architecture frameworks and more.

1. What is enterprise architecture management?

What is enterprise architecture management, and why is it important?

In our turbulent world, organizations constantly protect or strengthen their positions in the marketplace. Where in the past organizational changes were implemented every five or seven years, change is now a continuous process.

Enterprise architecture management provides a panoramic view of an organization’s target and future state and the roadmap to bridge the gap.

Enterprise architecture management essentially involves the planning, designing, and governing of an organization’s architecture to achieve business objectives efficiently. It’s a discipline that aligns business processes, information systems, data, applications, and technology infrastructure.

As a result, organizations are empowered with a blueprint of their IT landscape and how it meets their business objectives, ensuring agility and adaptability.

“Enterprise architecture management is the discipline of proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analyzing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes.
It delivers value by presenting business and IT leaders with signature-ready recommendations for adjusting policies and projects to achieve targeted business outcomes that capitalize on relevant business disruptions.”[1]

READ: The value proposition of enterprise architecture management

Source: Gartner, Inc

2. What are the use cases for enterprise architecture management?

Building an enterprise architecture management capability is no longer an option for organizations, it is a necessity. Managing business and IT complexity and transformation to support business strategy is a big challenge for organizations.

Implementing enterprise architecture management allows organizations to become more competitive, sustainable and agile. Organizations can accomplish business goals faster, better and cheaper.

Enterprise architecture management is a versatile discipline with many use cases that greatly benefit architects and organizations.

Use cases for enterprise architecture management


Digital transformation


Cloud transformation


Product and service rollout

Bizzdesign platform

Supply chain consolidation

Bizzdesign platform

IT rationalization

Bizzdesign platform

ERP transitioning


Process automation


Mergers and Acquisitions


Target operational model

3. Challenges in enterprise architecture management

Creating an agile enterprise architecture management capability is a common goal for many organizations looking to adapt to continuous change and increase agility.

However, to achieve an agile enterprise architecture management capability, architects must strike a balance between driving organizational change in an agile manner and providing oversight to ensure traditional enterprise architecture outcomes, such as consistency, optimization, and standardization.

LISTEN: Top challenges faced by enterprise architects

Along the way, you may encounter the following challenges:

  • Lack of understanding among stakeholders regarding the value and significance of architecture
  • Shifts in leadership or changing business demands
  • Dealing with legacy systems and outdated technologies
  • Overcoming organizational silos and fostering collaboration across departments and teams
  • Dealing with the increasing complexity of technology landscapes and the interdependencies among various systems
  • Poor implementation strategies, budget constraints, and resistance to change

Overcoming challenges in enterprise architecture management

Defining value streams and capabilities specific to the enterprise architecture practice is crucial, as it allows architects to attach value to their activities and report it to the management team. Additionally, developing a set of enterprise architecture services beyond traditional offerings and organizing them based on value streams, helps deliver measurable customer value on a repeatable basis.

Establishing a federated team, including business owners who manage architectural data ensures higher data quality supporting agility. Using enterprise architecture tools are crucial to support agile enterprise architecture management capabilities. Enterprise architecture repository-based solutions enable automation, integration, and collaboration, facilitating faster and more efficient work processes.


Best Practices for Creating an Agile EAM Capability

Mature your enterprise architecture management team by applying best practices

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Agile EA - Best Practices Guide

4. Where to start? A top-down or a bottom-up approach to architecture 

One question that needs answering after hiring or training a group of architects (or both!) for your enterprise architecture management team is: Where do we start when doing enterprise architecture management?

RELATED WIKI: Best practices for enterprise architecture management 

Creating an enterprise architecture capability: Top-down architecture 

what is enterprise architecture management? top down architecture approach
top down architecture diagram

Enterprise architecture management: A top-down approach to creating architecture – from strategy to capability


Enterprise architecture management is a strategic discipline that helps to link strategy to execution. In a nutshell, a top-down approach is, therefore, as follows:

  • The scope of the architecture effort is the whole organization
  • Various points of view are considered and linked when trying to answer the strategic question: How should we organize ourselves, and how do we get from where we are to where we want to be?
  • Consensus is built by linking perspectives with a model-based approach
  • Using a structured and model-based approach improves the quality of realization or implementation projects

Adopting the top-down approach, strategic choices (after careful analysis and debate) lead to a new vision for the enterprise. Following the top-down approach requires excellent management of top-level stakeholders, as well as creating architecture deliverables tailored for decision-making

Creating an enterprise architecture capability: Bottom-up architecture 

Enterprise architecture management: A bottom-up approach to creating architecture


As the name suggests, a bottom-up approach to architecture is much closer to actual operations.

In practice, this implies such themes as:

  • Resolving operational issues in a consistent and integrated manner
  • Setting up project governance, often linked to the project management office, to get to grips with the complexity of managing several projects, often working on the system organizational/ information systems at the same time
  • Standardize architecture output (models, deliverables, e.g., an architecture definition document) for the domains involved (business, data, application, integration, infrastructure, etc.)
  • Defining architecture standards and setting up a standards baseline with corporate policies and statements of direction
  • Managing compliance with the standards base
  • Guiding implementation projects with impact analysis and project start architectures (the TOGAF name for this artifact is the Architecture Contract)

Top-down or bottom-up?

Ultimately, both approaches cover similar topics. The main difference between the two is the way of working. The first starts at the top’ developing roadmaps for the enterprise and works its way down. The latter starts with standards and governance and slowly works its way up to the organization’s strategic level.

Both approaches have their merits, and many examples can be found to argue the case for
one or the other. Which one of the approaches to use depends on many variables: complexity, scope, size, maturity level, level of formality, culture, history, etc. Additionally, following the top-down approach requires excellent management of top level stakeholders, as well as creating architecture deliverables tailored for decision-making.

Rather than seeing the ‘top-down, bottom-up dichotomy’ as an either-or problem, the focus should be on selecting a topic where architecture can quickly add value.

Once a theme for the near future is defined, architects should work with management to agree on a set of KPIs for which they are accountable. In this way, success becomes visible throughout the organization.

5. How to embed the enterprise architecture management capability into the organization

Successful embedding of enterprise architecture management in the organization is typically approached as a project with clearly defined goals, metrics, stakeholders, appropriate governance, accountability, and assigned responsibilities in place.

Enterprise architecture management shouldn’t exist in isolation; instead, it should be intricately integrated within the broader organizational framework.

READ: Enterprise architecture: Key to successful business transformations

Crucial queries to consider include:

What are our objectives for enterprise architecture?

  • What key performance indicators (KPIs) will we use to gauge the success of our investment in enterprise architecture?
  • Who will assume responsibility for enterprise architecture?
  • What resources — in terms of collaborations with other departments, tools, office spaces, and personnel — are necessary to implement enterprise architecture successfully?
  • Addressing these questions can be complex, but it’s vital to effective enterprise architecture management.
enterprise architecture management capability
enterprise architecture management capability Bizzdesign

Embedding enterprise architecture management

Examples of enterprise architecture objectives may include:

Supporting strategy
This fits in a purely top-down approach, supporting the strategic team of the organization. The strategy typically consists of an external part (how to position the organization concerning the environment) and an internal part (how should we organize ourselves?).

Embedding enterprise architecture management, in this case, could mean: supporting processes at the strategic level of the organization by bringing a rigorous model-based approach to the table, based on e.g., the Business Model Canvas or Capability-based planning.

Supporting change management
At the other end of the spectrum, a purely bottom-up approach could imply that the organization’s change- and project management discipline is to be supported with architecture.

In this case, embedding enterprise architecture management could mean supporting the program office in building roadmaps and supporting project managers in effectively starting projects with impact analysis. Of course, this should be started early in the project lifecycle!

Supporting governance
Most organizations juggle many types of governance, from financial governance to health regulations, standards, policies, etc. Each discipline has a unique perspective on the organization.

Embedding enterprise architecture management in such a context could imply the start-up of a joint meeting where governance-related issues are discussed bi-weekly. A solid standards base and architecture models can greatly improve the effectiveness of such meetings.

Like governance, security is pervasive and potentially touches all aspects of the organization.

One of the more challenging parts of security-related work is threat assessment and assessing the reach of security measures.

Where are we vulnerable and what will a specific measure’s impact be?

In such a situation, embedding may mean: setting up detailed models for analysis, as well as high-level models for communication, linking to governance, data management, and project management to ensure that measures are implemented correctly and promptly.

6. Enterprise architecture management frameworks 

The road to a strong, effective, and mature enterprise architecture management capability should be broken down into manageable pieces. A good place to start is to implement enterprise architecture best practices.

what is agile enterprise architecture management - capability maturity

We, therefore, recommend the following enterprise architecture management best practices to help you along the way:

  1. Define your practice’s value streams and business capabilities, aligning them with strategic discussions and creating a roadmap for improvement.
  2. Create a set of enterprise architecture services that deliver measurable customer value.
  3. Establishing a federated team, including business owners who manage architectural data ensures higher data quality supporting agility.
  4. Measure success by defining metrics and KPIs to assess the value of enterprise architecture services and their impact on revenue, cost, and risk.
  5. Deliver continuous improvement by showcasing the value of enterprise architecture services to secure continuous investment.
  6. Leverage agile enterprise architecture tools to automate workflows, integrate data, and improve efficiency.

By following these best practices, you can establish an agile enterprise architecture capability that aligns with your organization’s strategic goals, delivers measurable value, and supports continuous improvement.

7. Enterprise architecture management frameworks

Enterprise architecture management frameworks often contain valuable knowledge and best practices that act as a good starting point for setting up a team. Frameworks like TOGAF, ArchiMate, and BPMN guide enterprise architecture implementation.

RELATED WIKI: Enterprise architecture frameworks 


ArchiMate is a visual language for enterprise architecture modeling. It provides a comprehensive set of concepts and notations to depict and analyze an organization’s architecture’s structure, behavior, and relationships.

DOWNLOAD: Free ArchiMate 3.2 elements and relationships poster

Poster Archimate 3.2 Overview

The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) is a widely adopted methodology for enterprise architecture development. It offers a structured approach, tools, and guidelines to design, plan, implement, and govern architectures that align with business objectives.

BPMN framework
Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is a graphical representation for specifying business processes in a model. While it’s not an enterprise architecture framework like TOGAF, it’s a related tool for modeling business processes.

8. Benefits of enterprise architecture management

Enterprise architecture management offers many benefits for modern organizations navigating today’s business landscape complexities.

Here’s a summary of the benefits:

  • Enhanced strategic alignment: Align technology investments with business goals. 
  • Improved decision-making: Enable data-driven decisions and reduce risk.
  • Increased agility: Respond quickly to changing market demands.
  • Cost optimization: Identify opportunities for cost savings and efficient resource allocation.
  • Enhanced collaboration: Foster collaboration and communication between business and IT stakeholders.
  • Reduced complexity: Simplify the enterprise architecture and manage change effectively.

9. In summary: Strive for enterprise architecture management maturity

This guide provides the fundamentals of enterprise architecture management to set up your team.

The value of enterprise architecture management can never be underestimated: it’s an essential aspect of business strategy that integrates all aspects of an organization’s IT landscape. It helps organizations achieve their mission, business strategy, and goals through planning, design, and implementation cycles. [2]

On the right, please number the 3 headings:

  1. Current state description
  2. Transformational decision support
  3. Strategic acceleration
what is enterprise architecture management - capability maturity
Bizzdesign capability maturity

As enterprise architecture management teams become more mature, they can serve the organization better. A mature team does more than just design some diagrams in homegrown tools.

They use ea tools and frameworks to align the business strategy with the IT infrastructure. As the organization scales with more structures, processes and technologies and become more complex, a mature enterprise architecture management team can manage these intricacies efficiently.

[1] Gartner Glossary for Enterprise Architecture
[2] A Practitioners’ Approach to Developing Enterprise Architecture Following the TOGAF® ADM

Frequently asked questions on enterprise architecture management

1. What is enterprise architecture management?

Enterprise architecture management is the strategic planning of an organization’s information technology. It aligns the technology infrastructure with business goals, ensuring that systems are interconnected and work cohesively to drive efficiency and growth.

2. Why is enterprise architecture management important to my organization?

Enterprise architecture management provides a panoramic view of an organization’s target and future state and the roadmap to bridge the gap. As a result, your organization is empowered with a blueprint of your entire IT landscape and how it meets business objectives.

3. How can my enterprise architecture management team drive digital transformation?

Enterprise architecture management bridges the gap between business and technology. Therefore, this discipline facilitates digital transformation by ensuring technology initiatives align with business goals. This discipline allows your organization can adapt quickly to changing market conditions. It can also capitalize on emerging opportunities by making optimized technology investments.

4. What are the key benefits of implementing enterprise architecture management within our organization?

The top benefit of implementing enterprise architecture management is that it improves strategic alignment between IT and business.

Architects nowadays act as influencers who help executives make informed business-driven decisions.

As a result, organizations can now accelerate digital transformation initiatives and streamline operations, to name a few benefits.

5. What are the common challenges in enterprise architecture management and how can they be overcome?

Enterprise architecture management teams often face challenges such as a lack of organizational understanding, suboptimal implementation strategies, and resistance to change.

Nevertheless, these hurdles can be effectively overcome by promoting awareness and education throughout the organization regarding the actual value of enterprise architecture management.

This enterprise architecture management process demands a well-defined implementation roadmap, active engagement of stakeholders, and the cultivation of a collaborative and continuously improving culture.