Four Questions: A practicing architect asks and answers four questions of their own choosing

(Based on material originally published in the Journal of Enterprise Architecture, 2015 No. 2, p. 13-14)

Question 1: Which areas within enterprise architecture are you focusing on over the next couple of years?

Ultimately, we need to continue to focus on the most important perspective of the enterprise architecture profession – relevancy. This is achieved by demonstrating value, but in order to do that, we need to understand the consumers of architecture content and services. For example, it is well accepted that modeling is a key architect capability and I think as a profession we’ve been effectively  maturing  the  practice  of  modeling  over the last few decades. However, in order to rationalize the investment in modeling, we need to be cognizant of who is consuming that content and deliver it in a form that helps the consumer do their job better. We should also be mindful of emerging channels by which we deliver enterprise architecture content to include  rich and dynamic platforms like the web and mobile devices.

Question 2: What trends are you seeing around enterprise architecture consumers?

By far the most prevalent movement is a focus on the “up-stream”   audience,   namely   business   and   IT executives, C-level executives, and the Board of Directors. This is mostly due to organizations understanding that they need enterprise intelligence about how their business is positioned within their marketplace and how effectively their IT investments are supporting their evolving requirements. The enterprise architecture profession is well staged to deliver the holistic, integrated view of the enterprise required, but likewise needs the attention of the executive audience to secure funding and support for enterprise architecture. Nonetheless, we must not overlook the “down-stream”  consumers, namely the solution delivery and IT operations teams that are building and operating the future state enterprise.

Question 3: What are you observing about the intersection of enterprise architecture and agile software development?

Agile software development is certainly an emerging approach to continuously responding to new and changing requirements, but just like all investment vehicles, it requires an enterprise context to enable the most effective decision-making. However, we really need to take a different approach when enterprise architecture engages  agile   teams.  First, the “ask  permission” governance models   present   in   many  organizations need to evolve to more of a “beg forgiveness” flavor, so that, for example, enterprise architecture is not perceived as being an obstacle to adopting new technologies. Teams should be encouraged and rewarded for taking risks and evaluating emerging technologies. However, those decisions need to be balanced intelligently against existing investments and security concerns. Enterprise architecture needs to encourage innovation, not stifle it. Second, enterprise architecture needs to be an enabler of architecture best practices and provide more coaching and mentoring than traditional compliance assessments. Third, enterprise architecture needs to engage agile teams earlier in their life cycle, so they have the greatest opportunity   to   learn   what’s   happening   in   the   real   world  and provide those architecture best practices in a timely, convenient fashion to successfully influence positive outcomes. Lastly, delivery of architecture content in a form that is readily accessible, relevant, and immediately useful is essential for enabling real, valuable, and measurable reuse.

Question 4: What emerging standards do you feel are ones that will have the most impact on enterprise architecture?

We’re   certainly   looking   forward to the publication of the next version of the TOGAF® standard. It’s   been  rewarding to participate in its evolution within The Open Group Architecture Forum to bring the latest enterprise architecture best practices to the community.  We’ve also been involved in developing an enterprise architecture value chain and capability model to serve as a reference architecture for implementing enterprise architecture at end-user organizations. My company, APG, has also been involved in The Open Group IT4IT™ Forum, where we’ve been helping to develop a reference architecture for the business of IT. We’re  very  excited about using IT4IT for driving improvements to the IT operating model using enterprise architecture to operationalize an IT value chain that focuses on end-to- end effectiveness. We’re also working in The Open Group ArchiMate® Forum to formalize an industry which should lead to more rapid adoption of the ArchiMate modeling language via users of UML modeling tools. APG is also contributing to the Capability-Based Planning project to uplift this emerging practice within the Architecture and ArchiMate® Forums.

Mr. Chris Armstrong, President of Armstrong Process Group, Inc., is an internationally recognized thought leader in enterprise architecture, formal modeling, process improvement, systems and software engineering, requirements management, and agile development. Chris represents APG at The Open Group, the Object Management Group, and the Eclipse Foundation. He is a co-chair of the TOGAF Certification Standing Committee (CSC) and EA Capability Improvement project, was a significant contributor to the TOGAF® 9 standard, and is contributing to the next version of The Open Group TOGAF®, ArchiMate®, and IT4IT™ standards. Chris is certified in TOGAF®, ArchiMate®, Open FAIR, UML®, and SysML.