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:
We sure do talk a lot about enterprise architecture (EA) maturity. When I think about it, every piece of research we create is in some way intended to help EA leaders mature their practice. But alas, reading alone isn’t what matures an EA practice. Somebody, somewhere (likely, you) has the difficult task of implementing these EA concepts as processes, artifacts, methodologies, etc. And there arises the challenge: Simply building a “new thing” such as a business capability map or a set of reference architectures isn’t where maturity comes from. Rather, it’s about getting these “new things” out there, seeing them used, making sure they’re relevant, and realizing an impact.
For the many EA practices that want to evolve their practices toward a strategy- and business-driven role, actually getting that done means going outside of EA’s current scope. In order to execute on this vision, EA must consider three competencies to see them through their maturity journey, all of which are fraught with boundaries:
Insight. EA professionals need to be able to show that they have an understanding of their firm’s direction and their stakeholder’s strategies for navigating toward it. EA practices therefore need some procedure for gaining this insight — especially since most firms don’t articulate it well. But how can EA — which may historically be tactical and technology driven — get involved?
Influence. EA must now reach out to new stakeholders and use this newfound insight to influence their decisions. The challenge for many EA practices is to avoid blindsiding or overwhelming their stakeholders, as opposed to making their decisions easier. So what is the right way to approach new stakeholders and position your insight?