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Setting up an Enterprise Architecture (EA) function in an organisation requires a structured approach which delivers results. In this series we give practical tips and guidelines in implementing EA in different types of organisations. In the previous posting (link) we looked at typical characteristics of an organisation which are important to look at when implementing EA. In this posting we focus on implementing EA in a specific type of organisation: large multinationals. We investigate what the key elements are to take into account when implementing EA in such an environment.
A large multinational is characterised by a large number of employees, distributed over several physical locations in different countries. Furthermore, these kind of organisations are often highly complex (in terms of products and services that are produced and complexity of IT landscape). Because of the size and complexity of such an organisation, EA can possibly create a lot of (business) benefits by providing insight in the current architecture landscape and serving as strategic mechanism to guide change. On the other hand, it is also more difficult to implement a successful EA function in a large, complex multinational than in a smaller organization. We will discuss success factors which are critical.
The main success factors for implementing a successful EA function in large multinationals are:
Management support: Typically, there are a lot of different stakeholders who have some concern with EA. Implementing an EA function therefore possibly impacts a lot of people in the organisation, and the work these people do. Therefore, it is essential to have sufficient management support for the EA initiative. This is not only about formal support. You also need key persons who really act as a sponsor for the EA initiative: people who encourage and convince others of the relevance of EA and create acceptance. If management is acting like a real sponsor, the chance of a successful EA implementation increases.
Governance structure: These type of organisations are divided in a lot of different business units, different locations and different countries. To implement EA across the whole enterprise it is critical to implement the right governance structures, on different levels. Typically, architecture governance is implemented by an architecture board. To organize governance across business units, locations and countries multiple boards or authorities are necessary. For example, a structure with one global architecture board and multiple local architecture design authorities is a structure in which this can be successfully organized. This is visualised in the next figure
Integration with other management frameworks: In large multinationals often processes for managing projects (PRINCE2) or developing and maintaining IT solutions (ITIL) are already in place. EA cannot exist in isolation, and can only deliver value when it is integrated with these kinds of other management frameworks. For example, if PRINCE2 is used as project management framework, it is essential to define in which PRINCE2 processes the architectural deliverables (like project start architectures) belong and should be integrated.
If these three elements are not present, it will be very difficult to implement EA, even if other elements of the EA function are very well organized.
In the next postings in this series we will give practical tips and guidance in implementing EA in small local organisations, around 500-800 employees. These organisations are quite different then large multinationals and require a different approach to implement EA.
Use the guidelines in this blog series to implement EA in your organisation, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can help you set up your EA strategy.
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