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.

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.

Our first event!

Okay, so it’s been a little while in coming but our first event is fast approaching. Later this month we’re bringing together participants from four different JISC programmes (Transformations, Course Data, Assessment and Feedback, and Future Leaders) to investigate ‘Doing EA’.

Enterprise Architecture (EA) has grown in stature since the Flexible Service Delivery programme and has been highlighted by a number of colleges/universities taking part in JISC programmes as something they’d like to investigate further. So, on the 29th March we’re bringing over 40 delegates together to share experiences, investigate management and governance issues, and try out some EA modelling.

Online Webinar Open to All!

If you can’t attend the event, but are interested to find out more about EA, we’re hosting an online webinar this week. Join us online on the 22nd March 2012 between 11:30 and 13:00 via the following link: Online Webinar. (Note that the webinar starts at 12noon prompt; join early for orientation.)

All you need is a PC/Mac, connection to the internet and a supported version of Java which you can test via this link: Blackboard Collaborate Support. If you have any other special requirements please contact us and we’ll attempt to make suitable arrangements.

Introducing JISC Emerging Practices

JISC Emerging Practices is a new and exciting initiative, the aim of which is to:

  • Highlight emerging practices relevant to JISC Innovation Programmes and UK further and higher education
  • Provide support and professional development opportunities
  • Offer opportunities for like-minded people to share experiences and ‘learn by doing together’

JISC Emerging Practices is being delivered by Will Allen (JISC Netskills) and Andrew Stewart (JISC infoNet), overseen by Myles Danson from JISC Innovation. It will run as a pilot for one year before being reviewed.

Initiall topics of focus include:

  1. Enterprise Architecture (EA)
  2. Digital Storytelling
  3. Measurement Tools

Will and Andy hope to manage JISC Emerging Practices in an open and transparent way. Feedback, suggestions and ideas are all very welcome so please feel free to comment on any of the pages across this site or get in touch more directly via our contacts page.