I’d have really liked these three elements to come out as some sort of alliteration. You know like Porter’s “Five Forces” or the 4 (5/6/7/) P’s of the marketing mix. But hey, the motto of this blog is function over form any day. So let’s dive into it.
There is a temptation in EBA to focus on the models and the repositories but my worry is that this focus leads to the stairs climbing the ivory tower. My argument is that, without the other two elements, EBA is doomed to a pointless, isolated, non-value-add, non-existence. The full three elements, in my opinion, are:
- The models
- The process
- The people
Layer #1 – The models
This element is the fundamental bedrock on which everything else is built. Without the models, your analysis will likely be incomplete or inaccurate. Sadly, it is also the element that has the least appreciation outside of the EBA sphere. You may have the most elegant meta-model in the world, the most sophisticated tooling to support it, the most resource to maintain it and the most “executive buy in” to maintain its status. It don’t mean jack if it isn’t delivering value.
Layer #2 – The process
- How do you know that new projects are delivering to the architecture? You need a process to ensure that each new project has a briefing on what it needs to achieve.
- How do you know that existing projects are continuing to deliver to the architecture? You need a process to monitor their challenges, decisions and progress.
- How do you manage the transition to the “to be” state of the architecture? You need a process to influence the selection of new projects.
Without process the models are static data and no progress is ever achieved. Process takes this static and makes it dynamic, makes it real, makes it deliver results, makes it deliver value.
Unfortunately, a lot of architects aren’t temperamentally suited to process but (no disrespect intended) this stuff is too important to leave to your analysts or project managers. You need to have somebody in your team with an eye on the process. Without value delivery, your models will die.
Layer #3 – The people
Business is people and people means political. Hell, you might not want to hear that so I’ll say it again. Business is people and people means political. Hell… Yeah, I hear that! I’m not good at the people/political game myself, it’s the bit of this job that I struggle with the most.
- Need to get “executive buy in”? Those executives are people.
- Need to get your business analysts on board? Those analysts are people.
- Need to get that project to take on an extra risk to get an architectural win? Those project managers are people.
Any top-rank architect is likely to be on the Asperger spectrum somewhere – it goes with the territory. And that makes it difficult for us to be truly effective in getting buy in from people. Find an ally, find a partner, find anybody who can help you in this area because the architecture you need has to be delivered through other people. And those other people have to be bought in.
If you are one of those rare people who are both architecturally competent and have a high EQ, then I envy you. I really do.