Are Recessions Bad For EAs?

Jeff Scott [Posted by Jeff Scott]

 

 

The prevailing logic is that EAs are vulnerable during economic

downturns because they are essentially, well, nonessential. Over

the past year I have heard a number of dire predictions about the

viability of EA during the downturn. Some have predicted as high

as a 55% failure rate. But is this true? Or do EA teams add exactly

the kind of value needed during these troubled times?

 

So let’s see, what do EA teams do? Well for starters they hold down

technology costs through standards initiatives. They help IT leverage existing

resources through SOA and reuse programs. They lower project risk by

creating solutions with well known and supported technologies. Business

architecture initiatives help ensure that scarce resources are applied to

projects that will have the most positive business impact. And what do they

cost? Less than ½% of the CIO’s budget for most organizations. 

 

Look at this data from Gene Leganza’s and Katie Smillie’s Inquiry Spotlight Report:

Building An EA Practice report.

Figure 1: Many EA Programs Are Still Relatively Young

"How long has your organization had a formal EA program?"

October 2007

August 2008*

March 2009†

Less than 1 year

5%

24%

24%

1-2 years

22%

21%

31%

2-3 years

24%

11%

11%

3-5 years

27%

21%

13%

More than 5 years

23%

23%

21%

Base: 164 IT professionals

*Base: 171 IT professionals

†Base: 130 IT professionals

(percentages may not total 100 because of rounding)

Source: October 2007 US And UK Enterprise Architecture And Business Process

Management Online Survey

*Source: August 2008 Global Business Architecture Online Survey

†Source: March 2009 Global The Role Of EA In IT Decision Making Online Survey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The survey base was relatively small, in the range of 150, so the numbers may not be statistically significant but they are suggestive and they align well with the anecdotal data I get through talking with hundreds of architects a year. The relatively high numbers in the less than 1 year, and 1-2 year categories for March 2009 seem to suggest that CIOs see EA as a tool to help manage costs. The current recession officially started in the US in December of 2007 and was in full swing across the globe shortly thereafter. Lots of new teams starting up as the economy was sinking.

It’s too early to say “all is well on the EA front” but the sky isn’t falling either. EA value may be better understood than we think and recessions might actually be good for us.