The Enterprise Architect Cannot Do It Alone

project portfolio management and enterprise architecture

For a lot of Enterprise Architects, their claim to business value is because they help the business make better technology decisions.  This is true, but making the decision is only one part of the equation.

At the end of the day, the decision has to be implemented. Someone MUST deliver the change that an EA recommends before any value is realized.  That “someone” IS typically the Project Management Office (PMO).

The relationship between the EA and PMO is increasingly being looked at from all sides by the industry. One of the more instructive pieces was written recently by EA Consultant Rob Byrd. In a recent paper, he explored the issue.

One of the first questions he sought to answer was: Where’s the boundary between project management responsibilities and enterprise architecture? He looked at this specifically at the nature of the relationship between the two.

Byrd writes that a disconnect between the two can occur because of the PMO’s inability to responsibly translate “business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change to create, communicate, and improve key principles and models,” which he calls the EA definition.

“From an information technology (IT) perspective, EA differs significantly from project management. EA includes non-IT analysis such as organizational and business process considerations – frequently conditions where IT doesn’t play a role,” he writes. “EA also assists in the establishment of a clear understanding of the business environment – i.e., the boundary between services and stakeholders (users and citizens) – sometimes referred as important business outcomes.”

He continued, writing about the tact an EA professional must have in accomplishing his or her objectives.

“EA doesn’t tell business people or the PMO what to do,” Byrd wrote. “EA facilitates the discussion and provides a process between the PMO and the business leadership to create an executable breakdown (sequencing plan) to ensure achievement of the ultimate vision. EA’s sole authority stems from the direction of business leaders – captured in standard form by the architecture. The skilled architect’s knowledge of IT guides the business to executable solutions – this is why architects require a great deal of information technology experience. “

In sum, “EA is liaison and consultant to the business stakeholder and IT project management. Working directly for business leaders, EA creates an architecture to capture the business needs such as purpose, vision, mission, capabilities, business goals, scope, process, functional needs, success factors (objectives) and other business technical requirements to complete the business architecture.

“On approval, the business stakeholder authorizes delivery of the business architecture to IT project management. IT project management uses the business architecture to plan implementation (proposal development, contracting, coordinate resource needs, planning, outsourcing strategies, etc.). If IT project management identifies required changes to the business architecture deliverable, possibly due to technology considerations, strategies, etc., IT project management coordinates with EA (per guidance by the business stakeholder) to make necessary business stakeholder approved corrections or updates. During architecture collaboration sessions, IT project management participates to obtain better business understanding regarding architecture design considerations and other business conclusions drawn. Project management participation leads to a better-informed project manager regarding operational considerations.”

The bottom line is helping the PMO IS in fact helping the EA be seen as invaluable to the business.