Enterprise architecture can be described as an approach involving the analysis, planning, and formulation of a strategy coupled with a criterion of execution aimed at improving the performance of a business entity. Advancements and the transformation of businesses enhanced by the availability of gadgets and computers have revolutionized Enterprise Architecture to be not only a tool of performance, but also aid to competitive advantage (Jonkers). The clearance of this business cue extends with respect to the potential of enterprise architects. The need to plan and implement a strategy remains a paramount objective for every business. The significance of planning coupled with execution of new ideas is practically accomplished using the principle of Enterprise Architecture. This concept forms an interface between the current organizational structures of a particular business with respect to its perceived organizational image in the future. The nature of Enterprise architecture a specific company adopts depends on the structural design and the purported changes that should be inflicted in the organizational structure of the firm.
The fundamental principle of enterprise architecture is that it should be evaluated with respect to two important aspects; a description of the technique through which the architecting activity is to be accomplished and a series of definitions of the deliverables it should bring to the host company. Deliverables can be described in this context as a set of input and output that are required or experienced as a result of the company’s decision to make particular use of the planning and implementation strategies depicted by a particular enterprise architecture. Additionally, given the divergent nature and principles of enterprise architecture, the deliverables a business gets as a result of its involvement is largely dependent of the extent to which the strategy is employed (Kaisler, Armour and Valivullah). The possible deliverables can take the form of architecture contract, a definition document, architecture principles, a road map, and a vision.
An enterprise architecture framework is an important tool in the formulation and accomplishment of the objectified strategy (Schekkerman). The framework provides a layout or map which describes the design and essentials of the adopted enterprise architecture. Fundamentally, it lays down the essential principles that shape the developed strategy (Sowa and Zachman). As a matter of fact, through framework analysis, the company could trim the enterprise architecture to include parts that yield optimum benefits for the organization. In this context, the organization takes great advantage of the flexibility of the program. Therefore, Enterprise Architect hired to initiate an Enterprise Architecture program has to consult the business, as well as the information technology department. This will aid him in obtaining the essential information that determines the nature and design of the enterprise architecture framework. In fact, the Enterprise Architect has to have access to the organizational structure of the business as well as information pertaining to all the structural entities of the business, failure to which the Enterprise architecture will not benefit the core areas of the business.
An Enterprise Architecture Framework (EAF) can be defined as a description, on the basis of strategic principles, of how the program should look like in terms of design, its essentials, and those entities of the business that it is going to shape (Greefhorst, Koning and VanVliet). The enterprise architecture framework is developed after an analysis of the current status of the company and gaining all the relevant information and decisions after which the framework is formulated. It is used as a prototype for the implementation process of the whole project. As a matter of fact, the framework can be used to gauge the scale of the business. The larger the business, the bigger a framework it requires in the optimization of its services.
Principles in Enterprise Architecture are a set of rules and descriptive measures that form the basis of the program and are used to evaluate each clause included in the strategy. An Enterprise Architect has the freedom to include his creativity in the formulation process to come up with more principles. For instance, the enterprise architecture principle map of the transformation of business can be described as business, data, application, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), security, environment, and technology (Goethals). This could be viewed as principle themes that have to be addressed in the process of formulation of a strategy. In fact, every enterprise architecture framework is evaluated with respect to two or more of these principles. It is a logical fact that every business has to demonstrate some degree of inter-relationship with at least two of these principles. As a matter of fact, these principles are aimed at evaluating two or more proposals to help in the decision-making process of coming up with the most suitable enterprise architecture. The following examples will demonstrate how these principles are used:
1. Security- This is a prospect that is used to analyze how safe each undertaking stipulated in the processes are. There may be certain modifications that would heighten the profitability of the business but in the process expose the business to potential dangers. This principle will ensure that a conclusive decision is made that takes into account the safety measures necessary to safeguard the whole project.
2. Environment-The impact business activities have on the environment in a contemporary business society is a sure course of worry. Every process has to be evaluated with respect to the impact it has on the environment. This prospect ensures that the adopted strategies do not harm the immediate environment in any way or to a considerable degree. For instance, the modernization of businesses and integration with technology poses a great deal of harmful effects on the environment. Al these factors are evaluated in this principle of Enterprise Architecture.
Postulated in each technological prospect of enterprise architecture is a distinction between current state architecture with respect to future state architecture. The current state architecture can be described as the current state of enterprise architecture exhibited by forms that are used to transform businesses in the contemporary business society (DeBoer). There is a perception of tremendous changes in enterprise architecture in the near future that would completely transform the current state architecture into a completely different prospect. Every day the world experiences advancements and innovations in the field of technology which are used to shape the world of business. In this context, advancements in technology correspond to a particular change in the current state of enterprise architecture.
However, there are numerous aspects that shape the way enterprise architecture is formulated. These factors change with respect to changes in the environment and essentials of enterprise architecture. The future depicts huge changes in the state of enterprise architecture given that businesses are constantly diversifying their strategies and competitive advantages. As a matter of fact, each strategy different from a common point of view displays a new market strategy or business ideology that shapes the state of enterprise architecture.
The domains of business architecture depict the overall themes depicted through the whole strategy. Fundamentally, there are four main domains common to each standard enterprise architecture domain; business, information, applications, and technology. All these domains represent a specific strategic planning objective that stretches the business capability and ensures the current potential of each entity is maximized.
Business Architecture (BA) - This is used to define the business strategy, organization, and potential of the business. Through this clause, the potential of the business with respect to optimization of processes is evaluated to ensure the limit is created over which the enterprise architecture will be used to shape. This will make distinct boundaries of the business corporation that help in the choice of an appropriate enterprise architecture framework.
Information Architecture (IA) – It is a logical fact that information systems are an integral part of businesses and are used to evaluate the performance of each business entity in a corporation. This domain evaluates different modes of enterprise architecture with respect to information pertaining to each business entity. As a matter of fact, enterprise architecture is a performance strategy used to gauge and optimize the potential of the business corporation.
Applications Architecture (AA) – This domain is used to describe and highlight the major application systems that help in the operation of different business entities in the corporation. For instance, the use of a data warehouse, its significance, and potential are reviewed in this domain. Additionally, if the business uses software at any instance of its production or service provision, it is evaluated in this domain.
Technology Architecture (TA) – This includes all the forms of technology that are used in the production and service provision processes in an organization. It virtually entails an analysis of what available technology that is utilized by the business and potential targets in the world of innovation.
An enterprise Architect can learn more about these domains by studying each with respect to the potential of a specific business in that area. An overview of information systems about a business displays the potential of each domain in the business. Additionally, feasibility tests reveal all the tools of production and service provision employed by the firm. As a matter of fact, applications and technological domains are examined through field and feasibility tests.
The typical deliverables that will be created from enterprise architecture can be grouped in two broad categories; input and output. The inputs as mentioned above are virtually those requirements that are needed in the setting up of enterprise architecture program. On the other side, the outputs of the program are also part of the deliverables. They can be classified with respect to divergent entities in the business. As a matter of fact, viewing enterprise architecture as point optimization processes would help in the classification of deliverables. For instance, a business that introduces data managements systems as a technological domain of its enterprise architecture will harvest quality information and data organization as one of the deliverables of the program.
Additionally, sectioned business in the form of programs will enjoy the services of enterprise architecture as it enables the program to concentrate on building a compact entity out of the program. For instance, a business that establishes a website enjoys a wider market as one of its deliverables emanating from technological architect domain. Other deliverables that could be included in this context are better infrastructure, advanced accounting practices, data management, sales and merchandise, and service provision programs.
Governance can be defined as the statutes that define the methodology and structural framework of an organization. The same concept (or general governance as used in any field of practice in leadership) of organizational governance is used to shape and modify enterprise governance and architecture framework. The governance of enterprise architecture should highlight the decisions that must be made in the formulation of enterprise architecture, additionally; the governance prospect should outline those individuals mandated with the responsibility of making those stipulated decisions (Lankhorst). Furthermore, these decisions must have varying consequences on the business entity as a whole. As a matter of fact, it is through these decisions that the business is shaped and transformed through architecture, usually in the form of strategies.
The purpose of governance in enterprise architecture is to integrate formal order in the process of formulation and implementation of strategies. Every undertaking that involves a score of individuals must include some degree of governance to guide through its activities. Therefore, as enterprise architecture can be described as a program that involves the services of divergent programs operated by different individuals, a form of governance has to be formulated. In this context, the body that governs the enterprise architecture program ensures that the best decisions are made, all delegated programs are properly implemented, and each entity of the whole program maintains its significance with respect to the business it serves.
The value of Enterprise Architecture to Information Technology and its organization cannot be made exhaustive enough. As a matter of fact, the distinction and classification of business entities during enterprise strategy formulations introduces a platform through which information systems can be grouped into. Additionally, these classifications make it possible for the establishment of information systems at each point of the architectural process (Morganwalp and Sage). The nature and technique used in the information technology are dependent on the nature of data to be handled and the scale that the business entity operates on. As a matter of fact, the wider the business entity, the wider the information system used. In simple terms, the extent of utilization of enterprise architecture is directly proportional to the information technology used.
Furthermore, the significance of enterprise architecture to the enterprise itself can be evaluated with respect to each functional entity of a particular business. The flexibility of enterprise architecture makes it possible to use the strategy with any scale of operation. The optimization of services in the business can be made using this approach as it ensures that each aspect of the business is considered separate (Bernus, Nemes and Schmidt). Furthermore, enterprise architecture ensures that inter-relationships between distinct business entities are pronounced and distinct. In this context, enterprise architecture produces a prototype for the optimal manipulation of data and profitable entities of the business (Sowa and Zachman).
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