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Success and Quality of Enterprise Architecture

Successful Enterprise Architecture META Group (META Group Inc. 2000) has claimed that “EA success will be driven by the extent to which corporate line managers comprehend, support, and enforce the architecture. EA efforts that are not successful in gaining line management support will fail, regardless of the architecture’s design and engineering quality.” 15% of all architecture efforts will fail due to misalignment between the maturity and readiness of the architecture effort within the IT organization and the business (META Group Inc. 2000).

Moreover, the architecture effort’s success is only measurable by the degree to which it contributes to the business’ success. Successful Enterprise Architecture is onethat is understood, accepted and used in every day business functions. The success needs to be measured in order to ensure that results are achieved. Quality of Enterprise Architecture There seems to be very few studies where the quality of EA has been discussed. Therefore, in this report we aim at a preliminary definition on quality of EA, based on studies in EA and related domains. Generally, quality (of a product, service, etc.) has the following characteristics :

  1. conformance to agreed and fully understood requirements
  2. fitness for purpose or use
  3. satisfying customer expectations and understanding their needs and future requirements in a cost-effective way. If these ideas are applied to Enterprise Architecture domain, we could suggest that an Enterprise Architecture has a good quality if it
  4. conforms to the agreed and fully understood business requirements,
  5. fits for the purpose, which is to gain business value through EA, and/or
  6. satisfies the different stakeholders’ (e.g. the top management, IT management, architects, developers) expectations in a cost-effective way and understands their current needs as well as the future requirements.

Enterprise Architecture of good quality is the one that brings value to the organization. There are two things to remember about value:

  1. Value does not unfold naturally from building an EA, it requires a systematic analysis, a lot of business thinking and political orchestration to succeed (Boster, Liu et al. 2000).
  2. Value actually “involves two interacting concepts: financial efficiency and business effectiveness. Financial efficiency results from reducing costs or enhancing the financial yield from investments. Business effectiveness results when the company increases its market share, beats competitors, improves quality or cements a tighter relationship with customers.”

(Buchanan and Soley 2003) Consolidating the ideas presented above we could suggest an alternative definition of the Enterprise Architecture of good quality: it is the one that is understood, accepted and used in every day business functions; and the EA is measured in order to ensure that the quality requirements are met. In the AISA workshop it was suggested that the quality of EA could be measured e.g. to the extent it supports

  1. the information system development projects,
  2. the top management’s business decisions, and
  3. ICT enhancement in the organization from the CIO’s point of view.

The different views to EA quality presented above implicitly imply that the quality of EA is more than merely the quality of the implemented EA indicating that it is successfully used. The quality of EA may also refer to e.g. the quality of EA documentation, the quality of the EA development process, and/or the quality of EA governance (process).

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