Enterprise Architecture principles are arguably the most commonly created EA artifacts across EA teams. Unfortunately, principles also seem to be one of the least helpful artifacts EAs produce. What! Principles don't add value? Unfortunately not in most cases.
In the first place most principles are not really "principles" at all. Instead they are mostly good intentions. In the world at large, principles are rules we live by. They are the things we believe strongly in and adhere too unless there are extreme extenuating circumstances. For example, engineering principles are generally based on laws of nature so they are very rarely broken. Personal principles are based in moral beliefs and are broken occasionally but only under duress (or too much alcohol). But EA principles are different. A principle of "buy before build" doesn't really mean we will always choose to buy solutions when they are available. The "buy before build" principle really means that we will consider buying an available solution before we jump to coding. The problem this creates is that our clients see us declare principles that we don't adhere to. They (correctly) come to the conclusion that we don't really mean what we say.
The second issue with principles is that they are passive. A principle sits there until something comes along to test it. Strategies are more active. They drive action all on their own. They tell people what to do. Strategies also provide some wiggle room so veering off the strategic track a little isn't as egregious as breaking a principle. Strategies are also easier to connect to goals and objectives and are much better understood by the business than are principles. And that "buy before build" principle? Isn't it really a strategy? Many EA teams I work with have a hard time defining their strategies because they have couched them as principles so they have a difficult time articulating meaningful strategies.
On May 18, the night before Forrester’s IT Forum, Forrester will be hosting a Las Vegas Tweetup. Tweetups are low-key social events where Twitterers can network and meet the people they tweet with. Anyone can attend; it is an informal atmosphere that allows casual conversations.
This Tweetup is for anyone who's attending the Forum or lives in the Las Vegas area. There is no charge for attending the Tweetup, so come meet and mingle with a few members from The Social Media Club of Vegas, @rwang0, @coreymathews, @lizherbert, @pleclare, @akarlin, @forrester, and others.
Based on the recent wave of announcements flooding my inbox, BPM vendors are now stampeding to the cloud party. Over the last two months, I have received no less than 6 cloud-related announcements from various BPM vendors. So here's the running time line:
"Big Blue." That's the image of IBM I grew up with - bloated, rigid, complicated. Come on, you've heard the joke, "How many IBM engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb? More than you can afford!" And I've seen this first hand in the past with IBM Websphere Process Server (WPS).
In 2006, I supported a major enterprise BPM evaluation for a large federal agency. Several vendors were brought in, including Big Blue, to demo BPM functionality. I have to admit, the functionality and depth presented by IBM the federal customer - they literally shook their heads with disappointment. At that time, IBM was force fitting the WPS product to be a human-centric BPM platform. I described it as a "headless horseman" - nice integration functionality under the covers, but missing the required interface for users to interact with their tasks and workflow. The end result of the evaluation: IBM lived up to its Big Blue image and the agency decided that Big Blue was not the right platform for their fledgling BPM initiative (which would go on to become a multi-million dollar, multi-year BPM program).
Forrester’s IT ForumTech Innovation Demonstrations are your first glimpse at new and alternative technologies that will provide solutions to your current business needs.View innovative products and services selected by Forrester analysts that will stretch the boundaries of what you’d previously thought possible. The Tech Innovation Demonstrations will be hosted in the Technology Showcase at The Palazzo Las Vegas.
As all the hype around business architecture increases, a lot of clients are asking about EA’s relevance to the business. One newly minted EA put it this way: “I get the distinct impression that the business side of EA gets at best lip service. It’s no wonder business leaders criticize architects for being IT centric rather than business driven. But doesn’t the “E” mean enterprise?”
Architects ARE guilty of being IT centric, but that is changing. In our defense we have come by this bias legitimately:
• From the very beginning (see Zachman’s first article: http://www.zachmaninternational.com/images/stories/ibmsj2603e.pdf) EA clearly included a business component. But until recently the concept of business architecture was: “what IT needs to know about the business.” So in theory EA is about the enterprise but in practice has been very technology centric.
• Because EA was originally designed by technologists for technologists EA has grown up in IT further contributing to the idea that it is about technology.
• Because it has grown up in IT, EA practitioners are almost all technologists who are very comfortable in the technology space but not so comfortable in the business space. In fact, architects are often their own worst enemy when it comes to the business. They spend very little time with business leaders (outside of a specific project context) and spend even less time educating themselves about business (see my April 21st, 2009 blog post).
Over the past decade I have consulted with over a hundred EA teams and have seen all kinds of frameworks and models. What I haven’t seen in all these years is a framework that is truly consumer focused. And by consumer, I mean the EA consumer. Who is the EA consumer? They are the people that directly apply EA products and use EA services.