Every discussion group focused on Enterprise Architecture has a discussion about the length of time it takes to implement an EA program. It is the extended period of time between initiation and the first tangible benefit that turns many Business Leaders off. Successful EA programs demand participation from these Business Leaders. They on the other hand only dedicate time and resources to initiatives that meet their goals which are often short-term in nature.
Why do EA programs take so long to bear fruit? I think the major reason is because most EA programs focus on the future rather than the present. It is much more interesting to chart the course for a glorious new future operation than it is to fix the problems with the current. A great future state is often thought to be the panacea for the enterprise allowing it to abandon all of its current problems. It takes time to figure out what this future nirvana looks like and the process steals resources, often the smartest ones, needed to run the business now. Meanwhile nothing meaningful happens to the current or the future state until the analysis, design, implementation, and conversion work for the future state is completed. These are very high risk programs because the long timeframe makes the final state a moving target.
Business Leaders are risk managers first and foremost. High risk projects do not capture and hold their interest. The strategy for any EA implementation should be to provide immediate value through incremental verses wholesale change. Incremental change suggests that EA implementation ought to be a process rather than an event. The process however, must produce real, attainable benefits along the way. This begs the question: What is the process for implementing an EA program?
We’ll discuss that as we go along.