Workshop Review: Doing Enterprise Architecture #2

We held the second in our series of Enterprise Architecture (EA) workshops in London earlier this week. It was a another excellent day, with 27 attendees representing 3 JISC programmes: Transformations, Course Data and Assessment & Feedback.

The workshop was an ‘evolution’ of our first ‘Doing EA’ workshop, held back in March. A previous post provides an overview of the first workshop and in this post we summarise the second workshop, attempting as little repetition as possible.

What is EA?

In advance of the workshop, all attendees were directed to the recording of our “Introducing EA” webinar, allowing the workshop to get started with a quick table discussion: What is EA? It’s a question we’ve asked before, but one that’s certainly worth asking again! David Rose (who was described in the introduction to the day as “our EA guru”!) asked attendees to briefly discuss their understanding of EA in small groups. Common phrases often associated with EA were used, including: joined-up; a strategic framework; linking business and IT; a way of managing change; a holistic view. A visual overview is captured below:

Of particular note was one description of EA as being transformational, aiming for “the perfect world”, i.e. accepting that EA is inherently aspirational, aiming for ‘Business Modularity’ (as defined by Ross, Weill & Robertson, 2006).

Another important response was that an EA approach “starts conversations”. Effective communication is integral; the greatest stories of success from institutions adopting EA have described how they’ve successfully made important conversations happen. The EA journey of University College Falmouth (read their case study) is an excellent example of this, utilising EA as a key communication tool across the organisation.

“Architecture in general is a response to complexity.”

The Road to Value

The next session introduced the notion that deciding to adopt EA is the start of a journey, referred to as the “road to value”. The position along the road indicates an institutions’ maturity with regards to EA adoption. The five steps in the model are: Explorer, Adopter, Implementer, Achiever, Practitioner.

A specific post about the road to value will follow soon… However, these ‘Doing EA’ workshops are primarily for institutions with JISC-funded projects to join the road and start their journey, hearing the experiences of others who have already travelled some distance.

UCLan’s Journey (So Far)

Lucy Nelson, Project Manager, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), talked openly about her EA Journey so far, which started around 18 months ago. Her presentation captures her experience of introducing EA to UCLan as well as the issues that have been raised during conversations with staff and the results of the Strategic ICT Toolkit.

Lucy believes in a centralised and ‘top-down’ – rather than project based – approach to EA. However, she also described how there is a general sense of “change fatigue” at UCLan, the institutional structure having changed a number of times in recent years. Her approach has changed more recently to one she describes as “EA by Stealth”, where individual projects are encouraged to “see the bigger picture” and EA thinking is integrated into everyday working. Additionally she recently arranged an in-house EA event at UCLan which had a far greater positive impact than individual conversations.

“People involved in the business (of the institution) don’t have time to get involved in a project … so we took a workshop approach and invited them to attend”

New Travellers

Next we heard from two new projects, both from the JISC Transformations programme, as they start their journey with EA. Peter Hooper from Keele University and Fiona O’Brien from University of Westminster described how their projects relate to institutional strategy/policy and expressed their initial thoughts about how EA may help deliver change. They also both revealed that they can foresee issues and barriers ahead, but felt more confident about overcoming them having already heard about Lucy’s experiences, approaches and successes at UCLan.

“The road to value is also about your own professional journey.”

Challenges and Support

Next followed some more small group discussions, considering three questions:

  1. How do you plan to ‘do EA’?
  2. What challenges do you foresee?
  3. What help and support would be valuable?

Communicating EA was seen to be a major challenge, in particular, how to get buy-in at all levels within the organisation. Indeed this was something Lucy commented on in her presentation, describing the desire for a top-down approach, but the reality being that a “stealth” approach was the best way to get things moving. This is supported by the outcomes of previous JISC projects, describing the approach as Guerilla EA.

Many of the early practitioners talk about implementing ‘Guerilla EA’ whereby they specifically avoid mentioning the term [Enterprise Architecture] at all to senior managers until they are able to demonstrate a success and then explain how EA thinking led to that success.

Resistance to change was another challenge raised in the discussions. By applying Guerilla EA, and finding a project that EA could be applied to, it was felt that early adopters could begin to gather evidence of where their team and organisations benefited from the approach. It’s at that point you might decide to highlight your use of EA which could result in greater buy-in across the organisation. The end result hopefully being the adoption of EA and the wider benefits that may bring.

“The risk of a bottom-up approach is that you come up against someone who has absolutely no appetite for change.”

Apart from a request for more workshops (on ArchiMate Modelling, Change Management, and EA) attendees were very keen to receive support on engaging senior managers. One suggestion was to work more closely with the Leadership Foundation on areas of information technology/management. David offered an interesting point in response; that funding is down across the sector, organisations are becoming more businesslike, and therefore information is vital. IT is now part of an organisation’s foundations and, as previously mentioned, EA is the perfect world.

We’ll endeavour to consider all suggestions for further support raised throughout the day, circulating future offerings (workshops, webinars, resources etc.) via JISC Emerging Practices and through JISC programme channels.

Modelling EA, Archimate & Archi

Wilbert Krann from JISC CETIS, opened the afternoon masterclass sessions, describing the distinction between “EA – the approach” versus “EA – the thing”, where the approach relates to principles and methods and the thing is the model-able organisational structures, business processes, information systems and infrastructure.

His focus is on modelling EA – the thing, and he provided a practical masterclass on ArchiMate with attendees invited to try out some modelling. Using Archi, a tool developed by JISC CETIS, attendees were asked to reproduce a model previously developed by University of Roehampton. (Try it out yourself with the ‘hands on ArchiMate’ tutorial.) Attendees were then asked to create a model based upon a process from their own organisation. Example models are available from past modelling bashes too.

Feedback was extremely positive with most attendees indicating that they’ll continue using the tool when back at base. There was also plenty of interest in arranging a modelling bash, an event where people developing ArchiMate models get together to co-develop and support one another.

Managing EA Adoption: Engaging the organisation

Concentrating hard during EA Management masterclass.

The EA Management masterclass focused on four key themes:

  1. How to sustain EA? One suggestion was to identify a business owner from the beginning of the project. Where a business owner could not be identified, serious questions should be asked as to whether the project should go ahead.
  2. Organisational adoption. Using examples, advocates need to demonstrate how using an EA approach is different to the norm. Early adopters need to seek out people who are receptive to this approach and/or those who have a burning need.
  3. Where EA fits in. Organisations typically employ a range of methodologies, such as ITIL, MSP, and PRINCE2. David noted that EA helps to fill the gaps that exist. Organisations tend to cherry pick steps from the Architecture Development Method (ADM), a key component of TOGAF, to meet their needs.
  4. Changing the way people think. People need to be challenged to think about their perfect world, without the restriction of current systems.

Similar to the first workshop, the 3E’s matrix was thought to be a useful tool. Lucy described her adaptation which includes stakeholders and people were very interested to see the examples previously captured.


Thank you!

We would like to send out a BIG thank you to all attendees and speakers (listed below). It was an excellent day with a genuine ‘Learning, by doing, together’ buzz in the room. As we publish this post, feedback is coming in thick and fast, including the following two summaries of the workshop from attendees:

“Informative, interesting and enlightening…. I now feel I understand what EA is and how to use the skill!”

“A excellent and participative introduction to EA, with the added benefit of relevant case studies.”

Speakers/Facilitators: Peter Hooper, Wilbert Kraan, Lucy Nelson, Fiona O’Brien, and David Rose.

3 thoughts on “Workshop Review: Doing Enterprise Architecture #2

  1. Jason Bailey

    Thanks for the day, really enjoyed it. I had one question which I think Lucy may know the answer to. I’ll email her too. I think Lucy mentioned something about “data being the single truth”. I can’t remember where the quote came from? University of Wisconsin? Has anyone got a link to the info.

    (espeecat on the twitter)

  2. Andrew Stewart

    Good question!!

    Wisconsin’s EA principles don’t mention anything about single truth but I’ll try to dig a little deeper, collate what I find and add it to a new post on EA Principles.

    I’ve heard it mentioned a number of times, perhaps more as the overarching vision, ‘that perfect world’. There’s a fair bit of debate about whether it can actually be achieved.

  3. Pingback: Strategic ICT : Emerging Practices

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