One of the common threads that I have come across while researching Enterprise Architecture with respect to its rollout and adoption within organizations is the importance of communication and value quantification.
Many cases studies have hammered home a common theme that communication is a critical success factor in EA engagements. Particular EA challenges include working with a wide assortment of stakeholders who are unfamiliar with EA and how it adds value. A successful EA implementation and adoption depends upon stakeholders having an understanding of how EA adds value.
Bernard, (2012) asserts that translating value to the bottom line is a major concern for key executives and line of business managers with respect to an EA program. I believe that his list of quantifiable benefits would shore up any “marketing” plan for EA implementation. Blosch (2012) states that EA is quite frequently new to many business executives and that these executives often need help to understand the value that EA is adding. Articulating the value proposition of EA is paramount and the ten benefits as paraphrased from Bernard (2012, pgs. 72-74) are as listed below:
Shortening Planning Cycles: The EA repository provides a wealth of information that is already preassembled for strategic planning or BPI (Business Process Improvement) activities.
More Effective Planning Meetings: EA can help reduce uncertainties by providing a common baseline.
Shorter Decision Making Cycles: A majority of strategy, business and technology information is already pre-vetted and assembled thereby abbreviating the decision making process.
Improved Reference Information: Reference data is gathered using a standardized methodology that lends itself to practicable storage on the EA repository; thus data mining and business analysis capabilities are enhanced.
Reduction of Duplicative Resources: EA enables current enterprise resources to be inventoried and then subsequently analyzed for value overlap and performance gaps.
Reduced Re-work: Greatly reduces potential for individual program level initiatives, which typically involve duplicative processes and implementations if not crafted in sync with an overarching strategy.
Improved Resource Integration and Performance: Resources are planned and utilized on an enterprise-wide basis thus promoting enterprise wide integration. Future state requirements are compared to current state requirements to identify performance gaps.
Fewer People in a Process: EA supports BPR (Business Process Reengineering) and BPI (Business Process Improvement), which can lead to streamlined processes.
Improved Communication: An EA approach helps to reduce misunderstandings and potential rework via a common language of the business.
Reduction in Cycle Time: EA facilitates the capturing of “Lessons learned” from completed projects. These lessons can then be reapplied to future projects making implementation more effective and efficient.
With these ten quantifiable benefits of EA in hand, EA practitioners should work to communicate the benefits of EA to the organization as a whole. Concentrating on gathering executive level support is another key to initial organizational or line of business adoption. In turn, executives must remain actively engaged in showing their support. They should also communicate expectations that the business should participate in the burgeoning EA or any other process improvement initiative.
Doucet et al (2009 pgs. 460 – 465) describe the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) method that is commonly used in advertising to sway behavior. A marketing communications model is used to push the EA from a level of Unawareness to full Adoption. The full six communications objectives are as follows: Unaware, Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action and Adoption.
At differing stages of the objectives, different communication approaches are employed. In the earlier Unaware states, more broad based statements about EA benefits and effectiveness are communicated. As the objectives move closer to the adoption stage, the details on EA become more focused until actual benchmarks, touchstones and guidelines are shared for full adoption.
In a similar manner, the “Coherency Management State” of an organization ranging from Level 0 (Absent) to Level 5 (Innovating) will dictate communication objectives (Doucet et al., 2009. Pg. 465).
- Level 0 (Absent): Recognize the importance and create awareness of EA.
- Level 1 (Introduced): Find an isolated application of EA and encourage use elsewhere in the organization
- Level 2 (Encouraged): Reinforce and promote values and practices
- Level 3 (Instituted): Widen the adoption
- Level 4 (Optimized): Communicate results and organizational wins achieved through EA
- Level 5 (Innovating): Maintain sustained interest in continuous improvement
Blosch (2012, pg. 10) promotes the idea of recognizing and measuring the impact of a communications strategy to make sure that it is having the desired effect.
· Timeliness of communications
· Production to plan
· Readership statistics
· Amount of feedback
· Number of communications sent out by channel
· Access and use of EA artifacts
· Feedback from stakeholders
· Assessment of stakeholders perception of EA
· Adoption of EA, where and how widely it is being use
Marketing the EA program with a credible list of quantifiable benefits and paring that list with a robust, well thought out communications strategy should greatly support adoption and diffusion of EA throughout the organization.
Bernard, Scott A. (2012). Linking Strategy, Business and Technology. EA3 An Introduction to Enterprise Architecture (3rd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Author House.
Blosch, M (2012, August 16). Best Practices: Communicating the Value of Enterprise Architecture. Retrieved from Gartner.
Doucet, G., Gotze, J., Saha, P., & Bernard, S. (Eds.). (2009) Coherency Management (1st Ed.). Bloomington, IN: Author House.
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