Webinar review: Introducing Enterprise Architecture

In this webinar, titled Introducing Enterprise Architecture: Enabling Business Change, David Rose provided an essential introduction to Enterprise Architecture (EA) based upon the collected wisdom of JISC projects funded as part of previous JISC programmes.

Key points covered in the main 40minute presentation of the webinar:

  • EA in Higher Education, and why?
  • What is EA – an approach or a thing?
  • EA frameworks
  • The importance of business drivers
  • Relation of EA to specific job roles
  • Maturity and change

The webinar was delivered and recorded on 22nd March 2012. It’s primary audience was attendees of the ‘Doing EA’ face-to-face workshop taking place on 29th March 2012. However, due to the online and introductory nature of the webinar it was opened up for anyone to attend.

Q&A session

The webinar also included 15 minutes for Q&A. These aren’t included in the video, however summaries are provided below:

Q: Has anyone got any good examples of what they did say to their VC that got them engaged with EA?
A: Where top down institutional support exists, practitioners have focused conversations around carrying out change more effectively, whilst improving quality and reducing cost. Quiet conversations are also extremely valuable in gaining buy-in. For example, the positive effect of conversations in passing, over a coffee, in the lift or even over a meal shouldn’t be underestimated.

Q: Are institutions that are mature in their use of EA beginning to collate metrics to highlight benefits?
A: There should be a JISC programme on benefits realisation! It goes beyond benchmarking and metrics because it is probably the most difficult thing anyone has tried to do. Liverpool John Moores University does have a benefits realisation programme as part of their programme management office. They also do benefits mapping to look at the link between the project, the process, and strategy. What is really difficult though, seems to be getting from the benefits that are identified during a project or programme and what happens after it goes live.

Generally everybody (in the presenters’ observation) breathes a sigh of relief when the project is over and doesn’t come back to it or ask the typical question “is this delivering the benefits we planned (if we did plan them), and if not what are we going to do about it?” Are we going to stop it, improve it and highlight what we have learned from it? So it is really difficult.

It’s been extremely difficult to get any indication of monetary value from past projects. There have been some successes in terms of avoiding the purchasing of a new system (£150k) and a separate example where money was saved during procurement. This isn’t a technical or accounting question, it goes back to people’s willingness to be accountable, or fear for being held to account; they worry what will happen to them if they admit something just isn’t working.

Q: Is there a one pager available that can be used to get buy-in from senior managers?
A: The JISC briefing paper (pdf) provides an overview of EA. For further detail refer to the  Enterprise Architecture infoKit.

Q: If EA typically comes from IT within an HEI, who are their allies to help sell EA?
A: It depends in part on who you know, who you network with and who has the burning platform or the big problem. A number of roles that have emerged from the examples we’ve been involved with are:

  • The Registrar
  • Library and Legal Departments
  • PVC for Student Experience

If you can identify someone with a burning issue that is a good starting point. If you don’t know them very well, think about who you can work through in the first instance in a, kind of, facilitated conversation. Focus on the problem and how you might be able to help rather than on EA itself.