Successfully carrying out EA assessments: planning, procedure, evaluations

Successfully carrying out EA assessments: planning, procedure, evaluations

 

Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM for short) – professionally set up – is now considered a future concept for companies and organizations of all industries. Only in this way can the strategic challenges in business and public law areas be overcome sustainably. […]

In order to become a future-oriented EA organization in order to be able to successfully implement the prioritized EA fields of action, it is particularly necessary regular assessments the current EAM maturity (assessment, analysis, development of measures). In addition to a status assessment and evaluation of the current situation of EAM in the company, it is also about a further development of the action concepts and action practices of the EA leaders as well as the enterprise IT architects and the EA teams.

Questions and organization of EA assessments for determining maturity

A company-wide tested proposal for EA maturity measurement can be found in the BiZZdesign study “State of Enterprise Architecture 2021”. In principle, it is recommended to determine in the context of EA assessments how mature the EA practices are currently and to what extent there are differences and additional value gains compared to classic IT and business change initiatives. In addition, it can or should be examined to what extent EA maturity correlates sufficiently with the agility of the business organization and which priorities should be set in order to further improve the impact of EA in companies.

Typically, these assessments are carried out in the form of workshops, with the following four phases being common:

  • Recording of the current assessment of the EAM status (determination of maturity based on selected assessment areas, questions and assessment criteria)
  • Analysis and evaluation of the evaluation results (maturity values)
  • Development of measures for the further development of the EA organization
  • Agreement of action concepts and activities to increase the “clout” of the EAM.

In order to determine the degree of maturity of the EA organization, the following topics and questions can be examined and discussed as part of an assessment (see also the BiZZdesign study mentioned above):

  • To what extent is the EA mission/vision and the value of EA activities understood and appreciated in the company?
  • Are the EA activities or the EA development processes successfully anchored in organizational terms (e.g. with agreed roles, teams and governance boards)?
  • Are EA services (EA deliverables) currently used for business IT, service and change processes?
  • Are there sufficiently trained and business know-how savvy EA practitioners (business analysts, product owners, IT architects, etc.)?
  • Does EA help align business IT investments with a strategy?
  • Does EA help to reduce risks and deliver the expected business value?
  • Is an EAM tool or an EA management system used that enables collaborative architecture design development, powerful analyses of the actual architecture and an architecture impact analysis?
  • Can stakeholders and selected employees of the company be easily involved by the EA in planning, control and transformation processes (for example via web portal information)?

Based on the responses of the participants in the assessment as well as the evaluations carried out, targeted analyses and evaluations can be carried out. These then form the basis for a concept development for a sustainable orientation of the future EA fields of action and EA activities.

Practical example of the Gartner Framework for EA Assessments

The following is a practical example to illustrate how an EA assessment can be successfully carried out in a workshop with 12 participants. Based on the Gartner framework, the criteria listed and briefly explained in the following table were based on:

Table: Criteria for conducting an EA assessment for determining the maturity
EA Assessment Criteria Explanation of the criteria
Stakeholder Support and Involvement The involvement and support of various interest groups (stakeholders, departments) is crucial for EA success. Stakeholders should be involved as actively as possible in EA practice. Therefore, relationships with stakeholders must be established and maintained.
Team Resources EA-Praxis needs a suitable team organization or a staffing of the EA teams with qualified architecture professionals. Teams with a wide range of competencies are required, which is why teamwork and team development are essential.
Architecture Development Method A clear, well-defined and coherent EA development methodology is required to support the efficient development of the architecture and its results. Composable thinking and a corresponding architectural concept help here.
Organizational Integration Mature EA practices must be integrated into business IT management processes within the organization. In this way, successful guidance, support and compliance can be possible.
Deliverables EA results must meet the needs of the company. They range from business capability models, data connectivity designs and target maps to solution architectures.
EA Governance Through an agreed governance model, various interest groups in the company can be involved in planning, decision-making and control processes. This transparency helps to collaborate in the provision of EA results and to take over the supervision of the EA practice as a whole.
Metrics The orientation to appropriate metrics can ensure that the EA practice delivers added value for the company and the business results achieved with it. EA metrics have two forms – quantitative, in conjunction with the business results it drives – and qualitative, by measuring the perception by its stakeholders.
Stakeholder Perceptions The value of EA often focuses on what is perceived by EA stakeholders. As a result, EA teams need to adapt as needed to improve the perceived value of EA practice by stakeholders.

An excerpt of the results of a workshop with 12 participants shows the following figure using the previously outlined catalog of criteria:

Evaluation example of an EA assessment (according to Gartner criteria)

Variants of EA assessments

In addition to the “General maturity Assessments” described here, other types of EA assessments are conceivable (see also BiZZdesign study):

  • Success Readiness Assessment: focuses in particular on EA success factors such as “quality of the EA teams”, the participation of stakeholders or departments, the “sponsorship” by the company management as well as the quality of the available EA data (information management) for participants and contributors.
    • Enterprise Agility Assessment: focused on questions about the used architectural concepts (composable), used procedures and EA processes as well as existing business agility levels
    • Value-contribution assessments: Based on an analysis of the business strategy and the business goals, the outcome is checked and evaluated by EA. Consequences for the future orientation of the fields of action and the prioritization of use cases are derived from this.

Conclusion: An assessment of the current EAM maturity is a helpful starting point in order to be able to develop the action concept of the future in connection with the identified current challenges. In addition to a status assessment and evaluation of the current situation of the EAM in the company, the first consequences (action considerations) and recommendations (catalogue of measures) should also be a result on the basis of analyses!

The authors: Ernst Tiemeyer* (consultant, author and university lecturer) and Andreas Pirkner** (Enterprise Architect at Erste Asset Management).

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