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The Gartner group describes enterprise architecture (Op't Land, Proper, Waage, Cloo, & Steghuis, 2008, p.33) as the business of translating company vision and strategy to a practical enterprise change. "By developing, sharing, and upgrading essential ideas and models that explain and enable the enterprise's future state." Simply said, enterprise architecture is a strategy that defines the path to an organization's future goal from its existing plan. Strategy can be defined as a high-level plan that illustrates not just where a firm has to go, but also how it will get there. Sarlak (2010, p.161) defines architecture as, “A set of shared definitions and constraints that are expected to effect a time, cost or risk reduction in future application development or operations.” Enterprise architecture studies the organization of enterprise models in an organization. It defines the concepts, values, procedures, standards, customs, and reasons for management of information based structures in business. It generates abstractions of an enterprise in the form of diagrams, graphic representation, plans, documents, replicas, designs, blueprints, and patterns. This collection, in summary, is referred to as corporate knowledge which is used to comprehend and control complexities borne in the business world by modeling a complete picture of the principal structures and components in relation to one another. (Boughzalla, 2006, cited in Sarlak, 2010, p161). The focus of EA is making the organization more efficient such that by integration of the business and the IT aspects of an organization, it becomes more competitive.
EA is an essential component of the project initiation and concept development phase. The initiation phase requires identification of the current system and its achievements and sets out where they want to be in the future. What follows is the construction of a strategic plan that shows how they will move from their current state to the desired system. Then a set of projects overarching the strategic plan are decided on. Previously a problem was identified, and a solution to the company's goal achievement was set. A strategy is a planning-based approach that is long-term, that is, it looks further into the future to try and stay relevant past the current crisis. EA, therefore, fits into the initiation phase by the introduction of strategy which helps them plan for their organizations further into the future.
EA is an essential tool in the requirements analysis phase. It enables it by providing a reliable communicating platform where managers can be informed beforehand of projects so that when presented to them they can quickly approve them. Involving business leaders such as CIO makes the project more likely to succeed because they are the ones with real information on the business. The requirements and analysis phase requires thorough delving into the projects proposed and analyzing their capability to sustain the company in its vision and mission. Traditionally, the requirements of the proposed system would be analyzed in this stage especially the feasibility of implementation and if the system would meet the requirements, i.e., solve the problem. Enterprise architecture goes further to present the Enterprise Architecture documentation that contains the architecture definition document that covers all architecture domains (business, data, and technology) and reviews the states of architecture that is transition, baseline, and target (Haren, 2011, p.438). The Transition architecture shows the organizations states between the target state and the baseline (where it currently is) and defines the Transitional architecture necessary to achieve the target architecture (Haren, 2011, p.438).
The EA is integral in the design phase. The design phase depicts the organization's purpose using diagrams and models. EA frameworks provide tools to be used in this diagram depictions (enabler and benefit). These are modeled in UML and include the class diagrams, object diagrams, Use Case diagrams, Activity diagrams, Interaction diagrams and Sequence diagrams. Through these, the organization's relation to the client, other agencies, and its employees is defined. During times of change such as during mergers or acquisitions, it provides support for structural reorganization.
EA in development. EA provides for efficient resource allocation and optimal design (benefit and enabler). Through efficient communication in the production process. The architect usually has to consider the organization as a whole because the project spans the whole structure. Communication, therefore, has to take place and the EA can be used to get in contact with management to assist in their budgeting and HR needs. They can also be used with the Application development group to make them aware of the project in waiting for them.
EA in integration and testing. Testing is an evaluation of software quality. With testing, we have validation and verification. Validation works to ensure that the product satisfies the requirements set in the requirements elicitation phase. Verification is for assuring that it functions according to its creation. EA enables testing by ensuring standards. These are enforced by having a documented enterprise architecture. Products can be tested against these standards. EA is an excellent way to implement a system across multiple departments and avoid duplication of systems. In this manner EA requires an architect to develop an organization view such that the deliverable of the required system will be sufficient for the requirements of the departments in the organization. Integration of the systems at the end of the day shouldn’t be hard since fundamentally they are one.
EA in implementation and deployment, support and maintenance phase. Through the adaptation of the organization view replication of business units can be reduced across the organization. Technology simplifies many of the day to day tasks and thus reduces operational costs. Support is achieved through documentation of materials and help facets in the framework. Risk is reduced by the implementation of a well-defined architecture. Maintenance can be done through a team of technicians the IT department. They can be able to do a good job because they are focused on maintaining one system. The flexibility of strategy allows for change in the system allows for acceptance of minor changes sometime after.
Haren, V. (2011). TOGAF Version 9.1. Van Haren Publishing.
Op't Land, M., Proper, E., Waage, M., Cloo, J., & Steghuis, C. (2008). Enterprise architecture: creating value by informed governance. Springer Science & Business Media.
Sarlak, M. A. (2010). The New Faces of Organizations in the 21st Century: A Management and Business Reference Book (Vol. 2). NAISIT Publishers.
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