October 9th 2013

Ever tried watching a 3D movie without those cool polarized or anaglyph glasses people like to take home? Two hours of blurred flashing images look way cooler when they’re popping out of the screen at you, and in focus. Granted Enterprise Architecture (EA) rarely shares a sentence with ‘cool’, it does bring the complex structure of an organization into focus. Ultimately, EA helps to improve operational efficiency. Cool now?

The IT environments in today’s enterprises consist of a growing number of highly complex and difficult-to-manage IT systems. Social, mobile, cloud, and big data are four major forces influencing the development of a new wave of business improvement technologies. Business management experts agree that the combined strengths of Business Process Analysis (BPA) & EA mark the crest of this wave that is improving operational performance.

EA at IT’s Best

EA provides greater transparency inside IT, and allows for efficient management of the systems and respective interfaces. Along with planning continual IT landscape development, EA supports strategic development of the organizational structure.

EA’s many functions are captured in understanding its main aim: planning reform programs according to changing standards, regulations, and strategic business demands. EA helps organizations target the best balance between managing risk, optimizing costs, and implementing innovations. To do this, EA relies on the accuracy of an enterprise’s complex data systems and a highly organized framework. The most widely accepted Enterprise Architecture (EA) framework consists of the following four interdependent architectural domains:

1.) Business Architecture

A blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization, and used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands (e.g. representing business processes using BPMN).

2.) Data Architecture

The domain that represents the dependencies between an organization’s data, rules, models, and standards (e.g. with using UML).

3.) Applications Architecture

The layer that shows a company’s complete set of software solutions and their relationships to each other.

4.) Infrastructure Architecture

Positioned at the lowest level, this component shows the relationships and connections of the existing hardware solutions.

EA implementation provides its users with descriptions of the enterprise’s IT systems, and how those systems execute their specific work processes. It allows users to identify and analyze application and business performance. Underperforming IT Systems can then be promptly and efficiently managed since users are better enabled to answer questions like:

  • Which IT systems are where in use?
  • Which business processes relate to which IT systems?
  • Who is responsible for which IT systems?
  • How well are privacy protection requirements upheld?
  • Which server is each application run on?

With all of the advancements of implementing an EAM solution, it may be hard to accept that there is yet a better solution.

EA & BPA: Focusing Business/IT Alignment

Successful business/IT alignment involves effectively leveraging an organization’s IT to achieve company goals and requirements. Most organizations struggle to integrate the highly technical IT with the business side. Use of standard language & images fosters mutual understanding, and encourages business-IT alignment.

Visuals like flowcharts and graphs establish a common language, and help convey the interrelationships between business & IT. Once a common ground is established, a great deal of misunderstandings can be avoided. The organization then has the freedom to pursue goals of effective change management.

Signavio + EA: Benchmarking Collaborative Enterprise Improvement

Adding collaborative BPA to EA, sparks the necessary business engagement for any IT innovation initiative. At this point, the strengthened business/IT team can make more informed decisions. A successful pairing of Signavio & EA gives insight into how IT’s changes translate into both, improved business processes and greater customer orientation.

Signavio ‘s Process Editor – SaaS & On-Premise – offers EA functionalities on a small scale, and easily integrates with complete EA suites for larger scale applications. Signavio’s solution provides the necessary collaborative features to easily incorporate all employees into the architectural design.

With EA & BPA together in a cloud-based tool, your organization benefits by having business and IT together in focus. Both user communities can contribute to creating a better understanding using a common tool. The synergy created from joining EA & BPA effectively adds immediate value by driving positive changes companywide. Read more about the integration of these two fields in our whitepaper.

Still wondering how to reach operational excellence? Test your EA initiatives with Signavio today with your free 30-day trial!

Register online @ www.signavio.com/try