Who owns the EA?

This might sound like a question overheard from an ivory tower. I promise I have a point if you’ll bear with me to the end of this post.

It’s generally accepted that architecture as a discipline emerged from the world of IT as application architecture, data architecture, infrastructure architecture and so on. It’s generally accepted that Enterprise Architecture needs to be more than IT Architecture, because it needs to include Business Architecture. It’s generally accepted that, ideally, EA should be owned by a central function on the business side of the business/IT fence. It’s generally accepted that the comparatively advanced maturity of IT architecture disciplines means that, normally, EA is owned on the IT side of the business/IT fence. It’s generally accepted that this results in tension.

It’s not generally accepted that all this debate kind of misses the point!

My point is that there is a fundamental difference between the EA itself and the model of the EA in various repositories or diagrams. You can have whatever tooling you like, to whatever granularity you like, be using it for whatever objectives you care to mention but it is still a model (of varying abstraction) of the real thing. It is not the real thing. Any and all debate about who owns the model misses the point that the real owner of the actual enterprise architecture is the MD of the relevant business unit.

It is your job, and responsibility, as an architect to advise the MD of the advantages and disadvantages of decisions which affect the architecture. It is their job, and responsibility, as MD to take those decisions and live with the consequences. Then it is back to you and your job, and responsibility, to make those decisions happen.

But what if you don’t agree with the decision they’ve made? First and foremost it is your job, and responsibility, to understand what they are factoring into their decision that you either didn’t account for at all or weighted wrongly. Business decisions are made on a wide variety of factors not all of them architectural. Unless you understand this and can weight them accordingly, your value to this particular business unit is suspect.

You don’t own the architecture in the same way you don’t own the balance sheet/P&L. You own a responsibility to that business unit and its stakeholders for its success.

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About EBAnous

EBAnous works as a business architect for a FTSE-100 company in the south-east of the UK
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