Enterprise Architecture (EA) is the overarching framework that relies on a combination of artifacts in each domain area to paint a picture of the organization’s current (and future) capabilities. Best practices are proven methodologies for implementing portions of the architecture.
Both “Best Practices” and “Artifacts” are two of the six core elements that are necessary for an EA approach to be considered complete. A best practice can be used as an artifact within the EA leading to complementary effects. For example, best practices such as SWOT Analysis and Balanced Scorecard can be used as artifacts within EA at the strategic level. The Knowledge Management Plan, which outlines how data and information is shared across the enterprise, is an artifact that resides at the Data & Information functional area on the EA cubed framework.
As EA is the integration of strategy, business and technology, organizational strategic dictates can greatly influence the use or adoption of a best practice. If rapid application development, reusability or speed to market are important to the business, then the best practice of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) can be used within the EA to meet this end.
This example from T-Mobile highlights an example of SOA within an EA framework enabling quick development and reusability:
“For example, one T-Mobile project was to create a service that would let subscribers customize their ring sounds. The project group assumed that it would have to create most of the software from scratch. But the architecture group found code that had already been written elsewhere at T-Mobile that could be used as the basis of the development effort. The reuse reduced the development cycle time by a factor of two, says Moiin. [vice president of technical strategy for T-Mobile International]” .
Another example of EA driving a best practice selection is evident at Verizon. The enterprise architects at Verizon have incorporated an SOA best practice into their EA framework with the aim of building a large repository of web services that will help cut development times.
“‘We had to give incentives to developers to develop the Web services,’ says Kheradpir. ‘When they say they want to develop a certain functionality, we say: ‘You can do that, but you have to build a Web service also.’’
Though the developers grumbled at first, they eventually saw that everybody wins with a rapidly expanding repository of services. ‘This is going to be our strategy for enterprise architecture,’ says Kheradpir. ‘Now developers can go to the Web site and grab a service and start coding the higher-level application they need, rather than spending so much time at the integration and infrastructure level’”.
 Bernard, Scott A. “Linking Strategy, Business and Technology. EA3 An Introduction to Enterprise Architecture.” Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2012, Third Edition
 Koch, Christopher. “A New Blueprint for the Enterprise”, April 8th 2005. Retrieved from web: http://www.cio.com.au/article/30960/new_blueprint_enterprise/?pp=4
Reusing is usually a much better solution than building from scratch, however the main challenge is with the presence of codified knowledge of the existing implementation in an accessible easy to search repository.
TOGAF material calls that library the enterprise solution continuum listing all the solutions available within the enterprise, realistically though such a library is often none existent or hard to maintain at best. Perhaps because there isn’t an efficient solution for representing and storing solutions and their rationale in a searchable form.
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