Change management and adaptation for Enterprise Architecture Practitioner

Because of globalization, rapid customer changes, and technological advances, complexity continues to emerge in organizations. Complexity arises in systems in which internal and external forces continually pull and tug, which leads to tensions. An enterprise architecture solution, reliant on internal and external stakeholder relationships, is also a complex adaptive system (Masuda et al., 2021). The Project Management Institute (2021) recommends a tailoring mentality grounded in dexterity and agility. Planning, implementing, and driving value in enterprise architecture solutions requires adaption and flexibility (Dumitriu, Meşniţă, & Radu, 2019). The EA benefits an organization by providing foundational structures and insights to manage the business processes, systems, and people.

The EA can provide value to the organization by making informed decisions accounting for resource constraints, cost-effectiveness, risk management, and feasibility when challenged with the process of project portfolio management or PPM. Although PPM is embedded in the organization’s strategy to accomplish objectives, it’s challenging to identify, prioritize and support or reject operational change impact end-to-end.  Hornstein (2015) validates the need to integrate project management and organizational change management for successful business transformation.

Change Management

Prosci (n.d.) broadens the definition of change management as “the application of a structured process and set of tools for leading the people side of change to achieve the desired outcome.”  Ultimately, the successful EA practitioner must focus on the technical side of change (project management) and the people side of change (change management).  PMBOK 7 (2021) offers distinct phases, methodologies, and tools for success in project management, whereas change management focuses on the “people affected by the change and enables them to engage, adapt and use the change (Prosci, n.d.).”

Embrace Agility

An enterprise architecture solution establishes a direction for the organization that integrates stakeholders, digital assets, and processes. An organization will probably develop a vision and mission for the information technology initiative in planning an EA solution. It is appropriate to begin any complex endeavor by clearly defining the purpose and desired state (Kotusev, 2018). However, since they are rooted in standardization and procedures, EA solutions are inherently inflexible and unbending (Dumitriu, Meşniţă, & Radu, 2019; Niemi & Pekkola, 2020). The complex nature of the EA solution and the surrounding organizational environment instead calls for flexibility. Adaptability is favored over process rigidity in planning an EA solution effectively (Marcinkowski & Gawin, 2019; Widjaja & Gregory, 2020).

Ansyori (et al., 2018) provided an insightful literature review on problems in EA implementation in the public sector.  EA development primarily focuses on business process technologies and solutions but cannot address the challenges of developing, implementing, and adopting EA in an organization.  It appears that not adequately addressing the people’s side of change continues to rear its ugly head.


Value is defined as the worth of importance or usefulness of something. Organizations focus on values that determine benefits when striving for successful project outcomes. For example, value components, such as portfolios, programs, projects, products, and operations, are used individually or within a group to create value. While working together, these components comprise a system for delivering value aligned within the organization’s strategy. Overall, a project must add value to the organization and realize the expected return on investments.

By asking questions like, “Are these applications still relevant?” or “Is this system working?” or “How I can I make this system better?” Assess how you can make a difference to add value and propel your organization to become an industry leader.

The complex environment, fueled by continued advances in technology, hinders the ability of the organization to realize value. The enterprise architecture solution will likely not deliver immediate returns (Gong & Janssen, 2021). Kotusev (2018) noted that a rigid approach to enterprise architecture implementation is the worst strategy. Persistent evaluation and adaptation of the EA solution are necessary to signal the need for adaption. It is appropriate to have parts of the EA strategy remain purposively generalized (Alwadain, 2020; Marcinkowski & Gawin, 2019). For example, a flexible EA solution can quickly transition to a SaaS (software as a solution) that delivers more value than on-premises operations.

Cooiman (2021) noted that considering operations that directly support and influence portfolios, programs, projects, and business functions, such as supply chain management and payroll. Inevitably, portfolios, programs, operations, and projects will influence each other. Enterprise architects should shed the old mindset of emphasizing control while flexibility and innovation take a back seat (Cooiman, 2021). Project portfolio selection is understood as a dynamic decision-making process to evaluate, select, and prioritized a project or a set of projects for implementation through the allocation of constrained resources and alignment with corporate stratigraphy. The designation phase defines the list of processes with clear vertical and horizontal boundaries, which result in a “Process Architecture” or PA (Merideth et al., 2020). The PA represents all processes in the organization by explicitly showing the process of boundaries and relationships. For example, horizontal boundaries are determined through a pre-defined operation, such as process hierarchy, whereas vertical boundaries are represented by effective value chain modeling (Merideth et al., 2020).

The best strategies can be useless without proper Implementation

The EA journey should start by monitoring the evolution of the process improvers (Cooiman, 20221 & Merideth et al., 2020).  Balancing risk-taking and risk mitigation to support innovation while ensuring compliance and cost optimization are essential in managing EA incitive successfully.  Cooiman (2021) noted that recognizing the complexity of Enterprise Architecture is a critical factor in project success. Tangible benefits cannot be a top-down approach without propaedeutic integration of the process improvers in the everyday practices of the organization’s practices (Merideth et al., 2020).

Consider Hladik’s (2013)  ‘Enterprise Architecture-based Change Process (EABCP)” to mitigate organizational change management failures, which often reach 70%.  The framework is derived from aligning Kotter’s (1996) eight-stage change process project management, organizational theory, and of course, enterprise architecture.  The heart of the framework focuses on the change project lifecycle, organization architecture 5 +1 model, and the human dimension.  EABCP best supports large-scale organizational change initiatives by focusing on two critical areas: organizational analysis and change project planning. The goal of EABCP is to enrich the standard EA approach by exploiting the change project lifecycle. EABCP improves the layered view of organization architecture with the enhanced alignment of the business model and human dimension.

Critical takeaways

EA is inherently rigid.  A successful strategy for EA transformation leverages agility, flexibility, and adaptation. The literature suggests a synergy of EA with other disciplines, such as project management, change management, and organization theory. These EA strategies will contribute and deliver value and implement a successful change initiative.

Dr. Clark, Dr. Dyson, and Dr. Zagerman are faculty in the Project Management graduate program at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in PA.



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Prosci (n.d.). Definition of change management. Retrieved from

Widjaja, T., & Gregory, R. W. (2020). Monitoring the complexity of IT architectures: Design principles and an IT artifact. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 21(3), 664-694.



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