Enterprise Architecture Roadmap for success: Consultants

Bas van Gils & Sven van Dijk
Posted by Bas van Gils & Sven van Dijk on Mar 13, 2012

Enterprise Architecture

Welcome to our blog. This is an archived post, most of our knowledge and advice remain valid but some material or links may be outdated. Click here to see our most recent posts.

In this 9th posting we will cover the topic of using consultants in your Enterprise Architecture practice. This may seem like a strange topic to address. After all, we do offer consultancy, so of course we can help. That’s our job. There is more to be said about this topic, though, especially in the context of enterprise architecture.

Part 9. Consultancy

Consultancy for Enterprise Architecture

What Enterprise Architecture is all about

In our view, enterprise architecture is all about answering the question: how do we want to organize ourselves? It is a conceptual tool that helps you to get from where you are, to where you want to be. As a discipline, we frequently make use of models that describe – with respect to a set of concerns from a stakeholder – where we are, and/or where we want to go.

All of this requires an organization to answer some tough questions: who are we? Who do we want to be?

Facing reallity

Facing reality

As most of us know, looking in the mirror can be really hard. It is tempting to only see the good things. Not only that, there’s more that must be taken into account. For example: the principle of bounded rationality (Simon) comes into play when taking into account that we just cannot know everything and thus outside help may be needed. The same goes for group-think: it is a well-known fact that in many organizations the desire for harmony overrides the realistic view of a situation leading to a very slanted perspective of the real world. This typically tends to hamper decision making. Again, consultants may help by providing a fresh pair of eyes.

New developments in the market

Enterprise Architecture is a relatively young (management) discipline, and we see a lot of development in the field still. It sometimes seems that new (versions of) frameworks and approaches are published every week. A new trend, though, is the publication of case studies, filled with best practices, suggestions for aligning with other frameworks (data management, risk management, security, strategic management, project management and so on).

Staying up to speed with development in the field is hard and requires time. In our experience: consultants are often asked because of their extensive experience with frameworks and approaches, and therefore have more incentive to stay up to speed.

Level of involvement

Whether you are requesting help from consultants to avoid / break through the limits of bounded rationality or group think, or because you need specific expertise not available in your organization: stop to think about the level of involvement that you need.

One thing seems obvious: since architecture touches upon the essence of your organization it makes sense to avoid a situation where consultants are responsible and accountable for your architecture, unless you really know what you’re doing.

In general, consultants should do what their name says: consult. Give advice. Train. Tutor. Coach. Ultimately, the organization hiring the consultant should remain in charge of their own destiny, after all!

Next posting

If you’d like to know more, please leave a comment. The next post in this series is about using architecture principles and models. It is scheduled to be posted in between 25th and the 29th of March. 

Forrester Wave Enterprise Architecture 2017


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