6 years, 10 months ago

Getting the Business to Care About Enterprise Architecture

A couple of weeks ago I talked about the span of control Enterprise Architecture needs to have within an organization to be successful. This week is about getting the business to care about your Enterprise Architecture initiative.

Let’s say you have a large Enterprise Architecture initiative going on in your organization, but the business does not seem to care.  How do you get them to care?  How do you help them to see the value your initiative will be providing? How do you communicate your value? Getting the business interest is a challenge, and a big part of the problem is how initiatives are communicated.  All too often, Enterprise Architects do not communicate what they are doing and struggle communicating in a way the business understands.

Communicate the benefits

An Enterprise Architecture initiative creates value for more than just IT. Some of the benefits we should communicate to the business are:

  • Alignment between business and IT
  • Increased efficiency and effectiveness, which enables the business to get more done in less time with less cost
  • The business leaders are enabled to make a connection between decisions they make daily to business strategy
  • Validation of project priorities based on impact of the capabilities delivered and their cost

Engage your audience using creative communication methods

There are several ways an Enterprise Architecture initiative can be communicated.  It is important to communicate up to the leadership, as well as, down to the rest of the organization.

  • Hold brown-bag meetings to engage each of the areas (i.e. Change Management, Project and Portfolio Management, and Asset Management) the Enterprise Architecture initiative covers. Getting these areas engaged will help you get supporters and make the initiative successful
  • Facilitate meetings  and ask questions to better understand what value will your initiative provide to each area. Do not make assumptions
  • Present at the next executive staff meeting and show how this will save money, reduce risk, and make the organization more agile to change (i.e. economic pressures).
  • Identify any people that are potential barriers to success.  Meet individually to understand concerns and explain how this will improve their work life

Engage the business on two fronts

Identify key leaders in the business and have a collaborative discussion to explain the purpose of the initiative.  Also, ask what is important to them and what would make their jobs easier and more efficient.  One of the best outcomes of this approach is that you are showing the stakeholders that you care about them not only as respected leaders in the organization, but also as individuals.  Empowering these key leaders to provide direction that will affect their business will also show them that they are seen as valued IT partners, and in turn make the Enterprise Architecture initiative a success.

Another way is to use success stories and show the results of a project where an Enterprise Architecture initiative was used. Creating the Business Architecture for a project and relating it to the rest of the Enterprise Architecture initiative, will show how effective it is in a tangible way.  This same Business Architecture can then be re-used and refined to fit into the overall Enterprise Architecture initiative. This will help to get the business involved to make it better and more holistic for the entire organization to consume.

What are your thoughts on getting the business to pay attention to your Enterprise Architecture initiatives and to provide input in maintaining part of the Business Architecture?

See you next week, same time, same place.

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