Enterprise Architecture as a Meta-Discipline
An enterprise-wide architecture should serve as an authoritative reference, source of standards for processes / resources, and provider of designs for future operating states. An EA is therefore THE architecture of the enterprise and should cover all elements and aspects. Having a single source of reference is essential to avoiding waste and duplication in large, complex organizations. It also resolves the “battle of best practices” and competition between sub-architectural domains which can be problematic for organizations that are trying to become for efficient.
Developing an enterprise-wide architecture using the EA methods described in this book is a unique and valuable undertaking for organizations, in that the EA is holistic and serves as an umbrella or “metacontext” for all other management and technology best practices. The EA also creates abstract views, analyses, and models of a current or future enterprise that helps people make better plans and decisions. EA extends beyond technology planning, by adding strategic planning as the primary driver of the enterprise, and business planning as the source of most program and resource requirements. There is still a place for technology planning, which is to design systems, applications, networks, call centers, networks, and other capital resources (e.g. buildings, capital equipment) to meet the business requirements… which are the heart of the enterprises activities… creating and delivering those products and services that accomplish the strategic goals of the enterprise.
Regarding the “battle of the best practices”, organizations in the public and private sectors are often faced with decisions about which practices to adopt as they pursue quality, agility, efficiency; manage risk, and adopt new technologies. There are dozens of best practices out there, and most of them were created in isolation – relative to the other best practices. I call this the “battle of the best practices” and it creates an expensive dilemma for organizations – what to adopt? Because the implementation and maintenance methods for many of the best practices are very resource intensive, and the scope is not all-inclusive, the organization is faced with the challenge of deciding which to adopt, how to do it, and what overlaps, contradictions, and gaps are produced from the resulting collection. When EA is THE architecture of an organization in all dimensions, it becomes the over-arching, highest level discipline and the authoritative reference for standards and practices. This is a tremendous and unique contribution, because when EA is used in this way, the dilemma disappears and organizations can use the EA framework to make rational decisions about which best practices need to be adopted, what they will cover, and how they can relate to each other. The figure illustrates how EA serves as an organizing context for the adoption and use of best practices.