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My Enterprise Architecture Journey: From Skeptic to Believer

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The Enterprise Architecture Journey

In 1995, I encountered Enterprise Architecture (EA) thanks to a visionary leader who championed EA initiatives at two New York financial firms. Initially, I found the concept overly theoretical and questioned its practical value for IT. What concrete deliverables did it offer? How would it benefit the technology side? These were just some of the questions swirling in my mind. However, I was open to learning and trusted the judgment of this mentor.

It took a few years for me to truly grasp the EA mindset, and even longer to become a full-fledged Enterprise Architect. From my experience, EA is all about aligning with the core priorities and strategies of the business. Technology should be a tool to support these goals, not the other way around.

Frameworks like TOGAF, Zachman, and O-AA can provide a solid foundation for your organization’s architectural practice. However, customization is key. Adapt them to your specific needs and ensure they integrate seamlessly with existing software processes. Remember, the framework shouldn’t be rigid dogma. Keep practical objectives front-and-center and avoid getting bogged down in theory.

Many organizations, public and private alike, are structured with separate departments or “silos” focused on specific business domains. While this traditional approach has its merits, it can hinder agility. Enterprise Architecture can bridge these silos by fostering collaboration and shared goals.

Effective EA requires a strong foundation. Initiation, in my view, means embedding EA within the organization, giving it the necessary authority and resources. Governance, on the other hand, refers to a defined execution process that includes clear oversight, guidance, and the ability to handle deviations from the framework while still achieving overall objectives.  Additionally, close cooperation between EA and product teams during agile iterations (sprints) can illuminate architectural gaps (“blind spots”).

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