Human Dynamics in Enterprise Architecture: Effectively Communicating & Selling the EA Initiative – Outline the Strategic Value! (2/3)


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Brenda Cowie
Posted by Brenda Cowie on Mar 27, 2012

Enterprise Architecture

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As a follow-up to the first in this series, “The Key to effective Enterprise Architecture: Relationships” this post will take a look at how some of our clients are having success reaching out to the business side and effectively communicating the value of EA initiatives and forming cooperative relationships to move their business forward.Today’s EA teams can no longer solely be technical specialists, to function as successful EA ambassadors and influencers they also need to be educators, facilitators, and consultants working as teams with internal teams to solve the business needs of their organizations.

BiZZdesign is called upon by clients seeking assistance in getting the business side of their firms engaged in the Enterprise Architecture initiatives they want to carry out. As many Enterprise Architects come from the IT side, we see in many clients that the soft skills of EA teams require some coaching and mentoring. Often, the stumbling block is effectively communicating or “selling” their initiative to the business side to get buy-in and move forward. As many IT professionals are accustomed to focusing on the technical realm of an IT problem, they may need reminders to connect on a personal level with key stakeholders.

What to Communicate?

Here are a few things to keep in mind when imparting the value an EA initiative to your business folks:

There are compelling reasons for your business to become “IT Savvy” according to Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross of MIT CISR research, "IT Savvy firms have net margins 20% above their industry median." Those firms that are able to use IT as a strategic asset also have a higher return on assets from technology sharing (ROAs 30% above industry median) and higher revenue growth (three percentage points higher than their industry median). This direct an impact on the bottom line more often than not can get the business’s attention.

Talk to the business in their terms and let them know that Enterprise Architecture makes projects:

  • Better …Giving guidance in developing solutions that are in line with standards, strategy and architectural principles results in solutions more in line with business requirements through a qualitative and collaborative architecture governance process (Architecture Review Board)
  • Cheaper …EA creates Re-usable Assets (architecture models, templates, etc.)
  • Faster……A streamlined, effective architecture methodology & process with standardized architecture deliverables

How to Communicate?

IT teams that at one time were brought together due to a shared common technical base for building relationships are now often, from separate specialties and backgrounds within their own field. This diverse team composition can lend itself to opportunities for collaboration, or to miscommunication, multiple interpretations of a directive for eg.. which can result in misguided efforts if the players are not mentored and managed effectively by the IT leader.

Successful BiZZdesign Strategies include:

  • Raise the level of your EA team’s presentation skills. If you wish to be perceived as a center of Influence, your team must be able to communicate their ideas and initiatives clearly, concisely and with genuine intent.
  • Keep your message clear and simple, it must be consumable by the business and not filled with technical IT terms. Always outline the impact on the business.
  • Taking a Workshop approach- to get the message out to other departments in the organization. Do not expect others to take the initiative to find out the value you are providing, your team must go out and let people know what you are doing and how it helps them in particular and the organization over-all.
  • Coaching and mentoring presentation and soft skills of EA team members.
  • Executive Briefings : “EA 101” for the Business – IT and Business must communicate in similar terms. The EA team needs to “enlighten” the business as to what they can do for them and with them.
  • Creating a strategic, consistent communication plan – you are always marketing the value of what your EA team is delivering. Keep this in mind on every level, from informal office chats to structured presentations the tone and content must be consistent.
  • Strategic Networking - Sometimes we see a lack of relationships built with key people on the business side. EA & IT folks need to start building those relationships BEFORE they might need them. Get to know the people and be familiar with their business needs. Does this take extra effort? You bet.

Once the EA department can effectively communicate to the business side they can better articulate how their EA initiatives can help to move the entire organization forward and become a better firm thereby positioning themselves as a strategic asset to the business rather than solely as a reactive order taker.

For more detailed information on how BiZZdesign can help you execute these strategies in more detail contact me at b.cowie@bizzdesign.com.

Forrester Wave Enterprise Architecture 2017

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