Workshop review: Doing Enterprise Architecture

We successfully held our first face to face workshop in London last week, addressing the application of Enterprise Architecture to strategically link business processes with ICT.

Held at The Hatton in Farringdon, it was an excellent and interactive day with lots of discussion and sharing of experience, knowledge and ideas between the 45 delegates, representing 25 institutions and four JISC programmes.

The specific focus was on Enterprise Architecture (EA) in UK higher education, further education and skills, particularly:

  • Governance and Management; and
  • Enterprise Architecture Modelling.

This post summarises the day, capturing key themes and quotes from attendees. Please feel free to ask questions or add further detail, especially if you were an attendee, via the comments.

What is EA?

The day opened with a brief overview of EA by David Rose who claimed that this was his briefest ever overview of the topic!  Indeed, a pre-workshop webinar was held prior to the workshop, introducing the topic in an educational context, allowing the workshop to get straight into the detail…

“Architecture is a function of complexity.”

Are we not already doing this?

During the opening interactions it was interesting to hear from a number of people that they felt they were already ‘Doing EA’, but hadn’t recognised it as such. It’s often the case that Universities/Colleges are already applying a number of EA principles (like those from the University of Roehampton) to their work. It can take time to adopt the full range of principles, something David highlights as the ‘Road to Value’. The more principles you adopt and embed the greater the expected value.

Institutional perspectives

The second part of the morning focused on the experiences of and approaches to EA for a number of institutions: University of Bristol, Coventry University, and University of Bradford. You can access all of the presentations via our slideshare account, with Coventry University’s shown below.

Some key points from those presentations and comments from the floor included:

  • EA strategically links business processes with ICT and provides a coherent plan from the ‘As Is’ state, through to the ‘To Be’ state.
  • EA helps to justify direction.
  • Brokering language is a vital role for anyone directly involved in EA; it’s important to speak the language of both Business and IT.
  • EA is not a ‘magic wand’. Don’t implement an ‘EA project’; embed EA as a part of new projects.
  • It’s important to invest in the analysis, understanding where you’re starting from—the ‘As Is’!
  • EA is a very important communication tool providing a flow of understanding between senior management and operational staff.
  • EA can really help to identify where overlaps exist; at the moment there isn’t anything else that can provide that.
  • EA does not replace process mapping. EA provides a vertical view of the organisation whilst process mapping gives you a more in-depth horizontal perspective. EA helps you to understand where data is coming from. You’ll probably realise that data isn’t great in which case you’ll probably review your process to help improve that data.
  • We need to try and communicate the EA approach so that more people from across the organisation can use it.
  • It’s important to get joined up thinking. It’s not really the job of IT, but people are at the heart of doing EA, so need to develop the skills needed. Trust and joined-up thinking are essential.

Nikki Rogers (Bristol University)

Governance & Management

After continuing conversations over lunch, the afternoon session split into two tracks: EA Modelling and EA Governance & Management.

The governance and management session focused on three topic areas: managing benefits; engaging colleagues; and governance.

Managing Benefits
In trying to manage benefits it’s important to ask who you’re communicating the benefits to, and who they can be attributed to? The notion of a benefits chain was also highlighted and discussed—how does one benefit lead onto the next?

“Articulating benefits is a skill.”

A ‘3Es’ (or is it 6?) benefits matrix was introduced to identify and highlight expected benefits. Attendees only spent five minutes considering this on the day and even that was found to be useful, providing a wide range of example benefits. If you try this yourself, don’t worry too much about filling in every box. The matrix is a tool to help generate ideas. The important thing is to be clear on who you communicate those benefits to.

Engaging Colleagues
The session then moved on to consider communication and how to effectively engage colleagues, specifically senior colleagues. More often than not you only have one opportunity to engage colleagues, therefore it is very important to make best use of every opportunity that arises. The importance of getting your message across is often underestimated. It is important to be prepared:

  • Have in mind your elevator pitch and practice it with your team.
  • Appeal to different learning styles (visual, audio, and kinaesthetic).
  • Build upon previous success stories where you have applied EA.
  • Be resilient, don’t give up!

At times, you can’t always get through to the person you want to, so it might be useful to engage them through someone that can influence their thinking. One delegate highlighted the way in which they work closely with the President of the Students Union, which can be very powerful in gaining buy-in from senior managers.

“You’ve got to get to the people who will tell your story for you.”

Another delegate explained the difficulty they were having gaining buy-in for their project from senior managers who are often ‘too busy’. They continued to describe a change of tactic, attempting to generate a ‘groundswell’, gaining more buy-in from the bottom-up before re-engaging senior management.

Something that wasn’t mentioned during the session, but a tool that JISC projects have found useful in the past, is the interest/influence matrix for identifying stakeholders (shown below).

Due to the rich discussions of the previous sections, discussions around governance were limited to only a few minutes. However, governance will be the focus of a future online webinar, watch this space!

“Governance is about making good decisions for the benefit of the whole institution.”

Enterprise Architecture Modelling

The EA modelling session had a very practical focus providing attendees with a hands-on experience of Archimate and Archi. Whilst participants ended up at various stages of an exercise provided on the day, they all felt as if they had acquired a basic knowledge of the language and the tool. Major talking points included:

  • Managing complexity by using the model—view distinction.
  • Archimate modelling is about communicating with different stakeholders.
  • Model as you go along.
  • Don’t try to model everything.
  • Learning from existing models and from each other.


Online: EA briefing paperDoing Enterprise Architecture (5Mb); EA infoKit; ArchiMate; Archi; Modelling tutorial sheet; Open Group (TOGAF); ITANAJISC EA Ning; Strategic ICT Toolkit.

Books: Enterprise Architecture As Strategy (Ross, Weill and Robertson, 2006); IT Governance (Weill and Ross, 2004); Everyday EA (Free Online: Tom Graves, 2010); Innovator’s Dilemma (Christensen, 1997).

Thank you!

We are indebted to all of our speakers/facilitators (listed below) on the day; without them we wouldn’t have had the structure to hang our discussions from. But also, we thank everyone who took part in the day. ‘Learning, by doing, together’ really helps to move our understanding and application of difficult topics forward more effectively and efficiently.

Speakers/Facilitators: Russell Allen, Ian Anderson, Phil Beauvoir, Clare Gibbons, Wilbert Kraan, Lucy Nelson, Mussadiq Razza, Nikki Rogers and David Rose.

What next?

Our next webinar, pencilled in for the 22nd May (12:00-14:00), with the current working title of ‘Doing EA: The Management Journey’ will focus on EA Governance. This webinar will be open for anyone to attend.

7 thoughts on “Workshop review: Doing Enterprise Architecture

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  2. André

    Thanks for your post. Btw: I like matrices too as they are good communication tools and easen or reduce analysis. I use them for availability planning (risk-matrix), product situation overview (SWOT), “stakeholder” analysis and so on. To be exact, I don’t analyse stakeholders but “environment groups” (Umfeldgruppen): these include “negative stakeholders” too – e.g. institutions that use our service in order to spy on people (tax office, tv-licence, …), competitors of course, disappointed ex-customers, crackers, bots and so on

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