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Building the Business Case for Enterprise Architecture

Building the Business Case for Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture in and of itself has no real value. The value of enterprise architecture is in supporting and enabling the business activities of an organization. This may seem obvious but, over the years I have seen countless enterprise architects fail to get budget for their initiatives or tools. In some cases, teams are disbanded or are perceived as a discipline for the IT teams only.

To change that perception you need to change the way you present the value of enterprise architecture to the business, executives, and colleagues. You need to be able to help them connect the dots between what you do and why they can’t possibly achieve their business objectives without the knowledge and expertise you bring to the table. Watch the video where suggest how starting with what the business wants to achieve is typically a great first step.

To do this, you need to be able to provide some concrete information. It doesn’t have to be purely quantitative. You can share info like days saved, risk averted, shorter timescales, or better quality – usually others in the business can then convert them to meaningful numbers for themselves.

Three actions to build a case:

  1. Connect enterprise architecture to business drivers. For example, if the company wants to launch new products, enter new markets, or acquire companies, it must understand how enterprise architecture is going to help, and you as an enterprise architect need to demonstrate how what you do supports those goals.
  2. Relate cost to value. For example, a $500k investment in tooling for EA would not be considered expensive if the business understood the company could save an additional $5m over the next 12-24 months.
  3. Use past failures to illustrate. It may not always be easy to quantify the future, but the past can also help. Use examples of project overrun, regulatory fines, late deliveries, or customer complaints. Where you can, identify quantifiable costs and illustrate how enterprise architecture could have helped prevent or reduce risks/costs.

If you really can’t quantify what enterprise architecture brings to the party, then it is quite likely that you will not get budget approval.

Remember, purchasing without a known return is not an investment; it is a gamble. Often the reason why enterprise architects choose cheap tools rather than premium professional tools is because their organization is only willing to gamble a small amount of money. In reality those organizations would be best saving that money until they understood the value, and then invest wisely in the right tools, technologies, and teams.

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Mark McGregor
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Mark McGregor is a former Research Director at leading IT industry analysis firm Gartner. Mark has an extensive background in enterprise architecture, business process management, and change management, having held executive positions with a number of technology companies. Mark has authored or co-authored four books on business and process management, including “Thrive! How to Succeed in the Age of the Customer” and “In Search of BPM Excellence” and “People Centric Process Management. Widely respected for his knowledge and views on business change, he is the creator of “Next Practice” and has variously been described as a ”BPM Guru”, a “Thought Leader” and a “Master of Mindset”. Mark is passionate about the people aspects of change, he has spent much of the last ten years travelling the world, learning, teaching, and researching the cultural aspects of change and how executives perceive business and process improvement In this capacity he has literally taught hundreds of people and been fortunate to interview and interact with many CEO’s. Mark holds qualifications or certifications in Six Sigma, PRINCE2, Sales, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Hypnosis! Mark suggests that it is the variety of his studies, which provide the depth he offers to his clients, in his words “It is the difference that makes the difference”