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Two key roles for EA

So we’ve talked about some organizational reporting line scenarios for Enterprise Architecture (EA)

Maybe we should talk about what EA does. EA could do a lot. You’ve got great people in that team that can add value all over the place. So being clear what EA does and EA doesn’t do is critical. It is all about prioritization so make sure the team works on the most valuable projects while also covering the basics/foundation.

1. The basics/foundation

EA needs to be the keeper of your current IT state and your IT standards.

  • Current state

    • Business process or business capability model

    • Applications mapped to your business process or business capability model

    • Basic data model of what is the source of truth for which enterprise data

    • Tech asset model (your infrastructure and end user compute might have this data about you IT assets)

  • IT Standards

    • Standard processes if you have a business architecture team

    • Applications that should be used to enable which business process and which applications are unique exceptions or should be phased out (retired)

    • Integration and Data Warehousing standards/patterns

    • Technology patterns (HA/DR, security, standard containers for xyz, …)

The current state tells you where you are today and the IT standards tell you where you want to be. With changes in business strategy and advances in technology your standards will change thus the where you want to be (target state architecture) will change over time. Some standards maybe tbd as your team is in the process of figuring out how to enable a given business capability.

How detailed the data EA keeps on IT really depends on your situation. Additionally, what tool you use to capture this information is not that important but I would recommend to use a standard EA SaaS tool like

This foundational information is needed for most services EA might want to offer and fundamental to the second key role of EA.

2. Drive the target state architecture for major business transformations

If you have a business architecture team they should be involved in defining the most important investments your company is making. These investments result in programs and projects to execute. If your company does not have a business architecture function then it is crucial that the CIO helps the head of EA (Chief Architect) get engaged in the very early stages of any major investment. For those top investments EA should be accountable for delivering the solution architecture needed to enable the investment goals. These investments are the biggest change drivers in your company’s architecture and thus EA should be determining what that architecture is.

EA has three major advantages over other teams to be the most qualified in determining the best solution architecture for these large investments.

  1. They have broad domain experts and thus a small, highly effective team can be formed to determine the best solution options

  2. They are not distracted by operating responsibilities other senior IT leaders have

  3. They are intimately familiar with the foundational data as described earlier. What is the as-is and what is wrong with it and what should the to-be look like (IT standards to build it properly)

Well, there you have it. If your EA team can do the two things above you’ve got a team that adds significant value to your company and will be recognized by your business leaders.

There are clearly other services your EA team could provide but without the two above you’ll not be equipped to do them well. You’ll also struggle getting involved early enough with your business partners in those highly impacting business transformations.

Next time we’ll talk about what EA’s involvement is in the business transformations.


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