Updated: Nov 26, 2020
Enterprise Architecture is a game-changer in the current business environment. Tight budgets in SMEs put organizations under pressure and these big projects are always pushed for future considerations. However, there are some options that organizations can try to implement Enterprise Architecture without having deep pockets.
There are many strategies to implement Enterprise Architecture (EA) strategies. However, 3 strategies are different from each other and have different uses for different companies.
Strategy 1: Top-down approach - This is the most distinguished and commonly used strategy. It starts with the CEO's cabin and ends at the ground level implementation. The biggest benefit of this strategy is that you are following all the steps of EA, thus no chance of missing any component. All steps are sequential and hence preceding steps have to be completed before moving on to the next steps. Thus we touch all the departments of an organization. Downturn impact of this strategy is that it’s the most time and money-consuming exercise that an organization can do. If the companies are low on budgets then this is not advisable.
Strategy 2: Selective Function - You can go with a selective approach where the size of the organization is big. You can choose one department/country/product at a time to implement Enterprise Architecture. The results of a function can be measured by some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as Return On Investment (ROI), time saved by automation, resource allocation, new customers acquired in a certain period of time, etc.
The best thing about this approach is that you need not wait for the full implementation of the Enterprise Architecture Strategy in the whole organization. Quick benefits can be measured if you are going with this strategy. Once the return is as expected, you can implement it in other areas of the organization. A negative aspect of this approach is that you don’t follow all the steps. As we are impatient to see the results of the money invested, we do not give sufficient time to see the benefits and might take the wrong decision. But if the organization is spread through multiple geographical locations and different products then this is a good strategy. High priority functions can be picked first.
Strategy 3: Incremental Approach - This is an agile approach and can be very beneficial for firms that are fast-moving in the current environment. You can set up a 6-month window and then choose high priority verticals first. This is a recursive approach and you have to repeat the same process for other departments. First, allocate a small amount of money and resource to high priority verticals. There is no need to wait for years to see the results. Only set 6 months to design, implement, and measure the impacts of the strategy on your pre-decided KPIs. A problem with this strategy is that we have to repeat the same steps repeatedly, which is highly dependent on the managers of the organization who implemented it. But the positive side of this strategy is that you can improve in every repetition.
How to Decide:
It’s a critical decision to decide which strategy an organization should follow as these projects are time-consuming. Thus if you choose the wrong path, it would be tough to change the decision later. One should consider the below points before taking this decision.
Enterprise Architecture Strategy Experts should look at the industry in which they are trying to achieve success. The decisions should be based on:
How many functions the organization have
Where your organization is located
Who are the people involved in this project
At what lifecycle your company or products are
What future you visualize if the project is successful
What are the business mission, business cycles, and product mix
To conclude, I can say that all the above-mentioned strategies are better than another in many ways, but you have to choose which one is better for your organization.