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"Just enough" Enterprise Architecture

I spent an informative and enjoyable day with a proto-community of people pursuing Enterprise Architecture in UK Higher Education.  Many of the participants had been previously involved in JISC projects and have enjoyed similar events in the past, so I began the day as a bit of an outsider.  In the University of Edinburgh, our progress in adopting "architectures" is mainly on the IT side, via our Applications Architecture and our use of Service-Oriented Architecture.  Enterprise Architecture would integrate all this IT activity with the business processes and goals of the University (or what I sometimes call the administrative processes, for those readers who are unhappy with calling a university a "business").

I've tended to be a little sceptical of fully-fledged enterprise architecture (EA) because it sounds like a mammoth undertaking and the organisations doing it have often been very large corporations.  The two main outcomes of the JISC experiences are that you can do "just enough" enterprise architecture[1], and the creation of a flexible open source tool that does much of the work of the rather expensive commercial offerings[2].  This makes the approach seem potentially applicable to our institution.

There are certainly elements within the general "EA" space that I very much want to engage with.  Side conversations today included how to set up and manage registries of data & interfaces, what works for programme governance and project approval, how to track benefits back to project outcomes, how to engage senior management, and how to demonstrate the value of architectural initiatives.  Some of these I can contribute to even while I am a neophyte with EA "proper".

By the end of the day, the proto-community was beginning to shape into a proper community.  A core group will take this forward while the rest of us contribute via a wiki and mailing list.  The aim is to share the leadership; so some people might lead activities in some areas while being recipients of infomration in others.  This suits my position quite well, so I will do what I can to try and make this a reality.  In the meantime, I have some useful contacts to follow up regarding some immediate issues. 

All in all, a very useful day.  Thanks to LJMU for hosting us.

[1] "Just enough" enterprise architecture means what it says - just enough for a single project, or a single business area, without having to map the entire enterprise.  Which makes "enterprise architecture" a rather misleading title for the set of techniques and principles to map and align business and IT processes, but it wouldn't be the first time that a grandiose name has concealed a useful set of practices.

[2] The open source tool is Archi - an implementation of the Archimate modelling standard.  Archi has been used in a number of successful HE projects.  


Rose Green said…
Hi Dave! Really good to meet you, yesterday. I have seen the model proposed - start with a small, 'determined' group and draw others in as you go along - work in a different context, so I'm feeling very confident that the EA CoP will get off the ground. R

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