I receive a lot of inquiries from clients about an EA maturity/assessment model. It’s proven to be a common and excellent way to track EA’s progress and influence plans — so common that we dedicated an entire report to it in our EA Practice Playbook, and we have an upcoming webinar for enterprise architects who want to build/customize their own model. The usual backstory is that an EA leader wants (or has been asked) to create a model from scratch or customize an external model to fit the organization. It’s usually about a 50/50 split between those options.
And what starts as a simple over-the-weekend project quickly becomes a frustrating struggle. The criteria pile up quickly — after all, EA does a lot of things. The granularity is inconsistent — one can measure a piece of a process or the larger process it belongs to. The scoring scale causes frustration — it can score many aspects of your criteria — and is either vague or specific. And when compared to other models, it inevitably looks vastly different from each one. It isn’t long before other day-to-day priorities put the effort on the back burner.
As one who has gone through the exercise a few times, I’ve got five tips that can help you move along faster and complete your model before other priorities swallow it up:
EA teams like to know how mature their EA practice is. There are a lot of EA maturity models out there. You will find some of these assessments and maturity models discussed in a 2009 Forrester report. Many EA teams share the idea that there is a single “ultimate EA model” and that EA leaders should strive to move up the ladder to this ultimate model. It’s like a video game – you try to get to the next level.
For the past three months, the EA team’s Researcher Tim DeGennaro has been looking at these models and Forrester’s research on EA best practices to create a framework for assessing EA programs. This looked deceptively simple: Develop criteria based on the best practices we see in leading EA organizations, create an objective scale to rate an organization’s progress, offer reporting to illuminate next steps, and wrap it in an easy-to-use assessment package. What we’ve found so far is not only that avoiding the effects of subjectivity and lack of context is impossible but also that many assessment styles disagree on the most crucial aspect: What exactly is EA supposed to be aiming for?