Understanding the Complementary Relationship Between Enterprise Architecture & Project Management

project management and ea

Enterprise architecture and project management are two critical business functions that must be aligned to ensure strategy implementation. The textbook definitions of both disciplines are as follows:

Project management is the discipline of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria frequently referred as business objectives. A project is a temporary endeavor designed to produce a unique product, service, or result with a defined beginning and end, usually constrained by time and often by funding and deliverables.1 Projects are carried out to clear goals and objectives, usually to bring about valuable change to the business. The ephemeral attribute of projects differs strikingly with business-as-usual operational activities, which are functional and driven by process.

Enterprise architecture, on the other hand, is the process of translating business strategy into enterprise change by architecting the critical processes and models that describe the enterprise’s future state and enable its evolution over time. According to the MIT Center for Information Systems Research, enterprise architecture is the organizing logic for business processes, and IT infrastructure reflects the integration and standardization requirements of the company’s operating model. The operating model is the desired state of business process integration and business process standardization for delivering goods and services to customers.2

The EA practice is a collaborative method for conducting enterprise planning, modeling, and implementation leading to successful development and execution of business strategies. Enterprise architecture is a team approach unifying common understanding while modeling future needs of the enterprise using architecture views. An enterprise in this context is an organizational unit, organization, or collection of organizations that share a set of common goals and collaborate to provide specific products or services to customers.3 If we follow this definition, we can conclude that the Project Management Office (PMO) as an organizational unit is an enterprise. The same applies to the enterprise architecture group within an organization. So how are these two functions complementary?


The Enterprise Architecture Body of Knowledge defines enterprise architecture as a practice that analyzes areas of everyday activity within or between organizations, where information and other resources are exchanged to guide future states from an integrated viewpoint of strategy, business, and technology.4 The responsibility of enterprise architecture is to assist business leaders in vision, mission, capability, goal, and objective identification leading to the creation of business models and processes describing the structure of the enterprise. This structure includes the people, process, and technology required to fulfill the business mission while achieving the business vision through select business goals. These select goals are then completed through project management. EA identifies dependencies to the achievement of these goals which are needed by project management for project planning. These goals are similar to project milestones in the traditional waterfall methodology, and EA only facilitates this process through the application of best practice techniques.

EA creates road maps as a deliverable to establish the relationships between business capabilities and business goals. The method lists individual work packages between the current processes (the baseline architecture) and future state processes or goals (the target architecture), dependencies and analysis of the gaps, and shows a progression of how these goals will be achieved.5 Goals expand the business vision. Goals are milestones required to realize the business vision. EA also promotes discussion and provides a process between the Project Management Office (PMO) and the business leadership to create an executable road map to ensure achievement of the business vision. In the nonexistence of an EA function within an enterprise, a PMO may use business analysis to assemble IT requirements that support business goals, showing where EA and the PMO may intersect. At the project or solution delivery level, enterprise architecture supports project management, by defining work packages included in a project management plan. Project teams reference a catalog of work packages to ascertain tasks needed to be done to achieve the set goals. These work packages help with resource management, a key element to activity resource estimating and project human resource management. Both are essential components of a comprehensive project management plan to execute and monitor a project successfully.6

Enterprise architecture is a consultant to business leadership and the project management office. Working directly with business leaders, EA creates a structure proposal to capture the business needs such as purpose, vision, mission, capabilities, business goals, scope, process, functional needs, and objectives to complete the business architecture. Upon approval, the business leadership authorizes the delivery of the business architecture to project management. Project management uses the business architecture to plan implementation (product development, contracting, coordination of resources, planning, outsourcing strategies, and so on). If project management identifies required changes to the business architecture deliverable, project management coordinates with EA to make necessary approved changes. Requirements are managed using a requirements management process. As described in the TOGAF 9.1 specification7, this is used to manage architecture requirements identified during any execution of the Architecture Development Method (ADM) cycle.

There are always two sides to a coin, and some may argue that both disciplines do not intersect. From an information technology viewpoint, EA differs significantly from project management. EA includes nontechnical areas such as organizational and business process, topics that do not primarily concern IT. EA also assists in the establishment of a clear understanding of the business environment, also known as the important business outcomes. EA is responsible for the structure, documentation, and modeling of the enterprise while the PMO is responsible for planning, monitoring, and reporting of work packages. The architect models the enterprise and establishes principles for transformation, standards for technologies, and the road map for the business with the aim of achieving the target architecture or business goal. After receiving the transition architectures, dependencies, road map, risks, the work breakdown, skills and resources, and deliverables from EA, the PMO has to come up with a project plan and iterate it until the schedule, resources, and costs are in sync. The PMO then has to monitor and report progress, impediments, risks, and required changes to these architectures. But, aside these differing perspectives, we can still argue that objectives of both functions are similar. The following lists out the overlapping objectives of both functions:

  • Strategy: It is an adage that EA ensures business and IT strategy alignment, while PMO supports strategic planning.
  • Investments: EA influences approval decisions and budget formulation when it comes to business investment. PMO supports the budget formulation process and monitors investments.
  • Governance and Review Process: EA is a member of the review process, project portfolio planning, and review board which governs project performance against scope, schedule, costs, risks, and quality. PMO leads this review process, adds new projects to project portfolios, and monitors and reports risks, issues, and performance problems.
  • Acquisitions: EA ensures IT assets align with target architectures and technology standards, promotes reuse, and provides acquisition support. PMO supports development of procurement package through cost estimates, Request for Proposals, and selection plans.

Both disciplines are complementary, but the domains and work products are different, and the outcome between the two is a collaborative effort.

It is clear that enterprise architecture is a way of using system thinking as an instrument to integrate and align all organizational levels, from strategic to project level, against a primary objective. EA recommends solutions that help the organization attain its goals and continually governs the implementation of these solutions to meet business goals and objectives. However, awareness of the subject of enterprise architecture tends to surface in the enterprise through IT, the information systems (or information technology) community.8 This lack of awareness is a perception that business leaders need to address to gain value from EA.


To build a case for integration, EA and the PMO have to focus on outcomes that will validate the business value collectively. These results are achieved by improving the project selection decisions by adequate prioritization of the project portfolio using Project Portfolio Management (PPM). PPM is the centralized management of the processes, methods, and technologies used by project managers and PMOs to analyze and collectively manage current or proposed projects based on numerous key characteristics.9 Determination of supported future business capabilities is supported, and alignment with strategy and architecture is also required.

EA has to ensure that the PPM provides key deliverables to the architects. Ways of achieving this include proposed project and business case meetings, shared project dependencies reports, project fulfillment of EA requirements before commencement, a unified PMO and EA governance process, and involvement of EA in project design reviews. On the other hand, the PMO has to ensure EA provides key deliverables to project managers by delivering the enterprise context for every goal at the project or solution delivery level, collaborative project change proposals, project developmental assessments, and well-defined enterprise architecture road maps showing how such goals fit into the bigger picture via transition architectures.

To sustain value, here are business exceptions that EA and PMO must solve:

  • Increased focus on business value: Both functions must understand and translate business strategy into strategy execution.
  • Increased knowledge of business and information architecture.
  • Improved collaboration and fewer silos.
  • Focus on prioritization: Strategic enterprise goals must be understood and followed.

Strategy execution happens when EA receives business direction from the business planning which in turn gives a structured guidance to portfolio management (program and project management).10 Capability planning using this model leads to strategy execution.


Successful companies are beginning to integrate both functions by ensuring proper data flow between them and using common language and taxonomy to establish consistency by extending dimensions between both organizational units. PMO dimensions are extended to include business capabilities and risk, while EA dimensions are extended to fully enable execution of project data and its application to applications. Alignment occurs when both functions support integrated bi-directional scenarios. EA is the role of seeing the big picture as a tool to help focus on the right details, project management. It is about architecting optimized processes and models based on leadership’s strategies for the enterprise, but a process by itself does not create value; rather, identified value requires a process. Finally, EA and PMO are often complementary disciplines in many regards, not contradictory to each other. When there is a concession to approach EA, in general, as a collaborative effort with agreement on the transition architectures, the relationship between both functions can be rewarding to the business they serve.


1. “What is Project Management? | Project Management Institute.” PMI.org. Retrieved April 6, 2014. http://www.pmi.org/about/learn-about-pmi/what-is-project-management.
2. Enterprise architecture. Wikiquote. https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Enterprise_architecture.
3. Business Analysis Body of Knowledge. International Institute of Business Analysis. http://www.iiba.org/BABOK-Guide.aspx.
4. Enterprise Architecture Book of Knowledge, Planning an EA—Purpose. Retrieved October 3, 2014. http://www2.mitre.org/public/eabok/planning_an_ea/purpose.html.
5. TOGAF 9.1, Part IV: Architecture Content Framework—Architecture Deliverables. http://pubs.opengroup.org/architecture/togaf91-doc/arch/chap36.html#tag_36_02_07.
6. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Fourth Edition. Newtown Square, Pennsylvania: Project Management Institute (PMI), 2008. ISBN 978-1-933890-51-7.
7. TOGAF 9.1, Part II: Architecture Development Method (ADM)—ADM Requirements Management. http://pubs.opengroup.org/architecture/togaf9-doc/arch/chap17.html.
8. Defining Enterprise Architecture: Misunderstandings by John A. Zachman. https://www.zachman.com/resources/zblog/item/defining-enterprise-architecture-misunderstandings.
9. Wikipedia: Project Portfolio Management. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_portfolio_management.
10. TOGAF 9.1, Part III: ADM Guidelines & Techniques—Capability Based Planning. http://pubs.opengroup.org/architecture/togaf9-doc/arch/chap32.html.

About Kaine Ugwu 1 Article
Kaine Ugwu is a TOGAF 9 certified architect, who currently leads architecture at Terragon Group, an African digital media company.

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