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The Secret Behind Selecting the Right Enterprise Architecture Tool

The Secret Behind Selecting the Right Enterprise Architecture Tool

Implementing an effective enterprise architecture program is about more than just selecting a tool to aggregate and visualize data. As an EA solutions provider, we talk to a lot of organizations in the early stages of implementation, which gives us a unique, clean-slate perspective on the selection process. Frankly, the most obvious misstep that we see is an emphasis on the functionality of the tool versus what it can ultimately accomplish toward real business success.

Often, when we get into the room with an organization in the evaluation phase, they tell us about how the EA tool(s) they have used in the past delivered little value and poor insights. They want to jump right into the functionality our tools provide as if the functions themselves are the missing puzzle piece. Yes, it’s important to access the metamodel and to be able to load and manage the data repository. But it’s also integral to understand data reports and analytics as well as ensure security and scalability. The tools can almost always collect the data; it’s what you do with the data that creates value. That value can only be measured against goals, so that is typically the first bridge to cross.

Know What You Want to Accomplish

Start by identifying quantifiable business goals that will signify a successful implementation. These goals help define what success looks likes and keep everyone on the same page regarding the desired end result.

What a Quantifiable Business Goal Is NOT

  • Creating models that describe the enterprise architecture.
  • Being able to use a particular notation, framework or metamodel construct.

What a Quantifiable Business Goal IS

  • Save $100 million on annual IT operational costs; invest half the savings in business growth.
  • Ensure investments and changes directly align with the overall business strategy and that multiple projects are not claiming the same value, resulting in redundant expenses.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the economic impact regulatory risks have on business-critical processes.

Arm Yourself to Achieve Value

The success or failure of tool implementation most often has little to do with the tool itself. It’s the organizational and planning aspects – where human error can occur – that are most critical. Every organization has unique variables that factor into their implementation, but we have seen a higher probability of successful selection of platforms and tools when the following are in place:

  1. Executive sponsorship that mandates execution toward identified goals.
  2. A clear scope of what success looks like.
  3. A complete understanding of the stakeholders served by the initiative, as well as the business value to be delivered.
  4. A high-level roadmap that describes how the business gets from the “as is” to the “to be” model.
  5. Reliable management structure and processes that coordinate portfolio management activities across all involved business units.
  6. An acknowledgement that maintaining the required data will involve an organizational shift as well as time investment from those who know and manage the data.
  7. Proper evaluation of each potential use-case, based on merits and a promise to only execute on those that have a positive return on investment (ROI).

That last point is especially important, because if you can’t work out the ROI, you are in danger of doing the wrong thing and selecting the wrong tool.

Don’t let the list intimidate you; let it guide you. Following it helps you drive business transformation with your stakeholders. The key is to recognize the challenges and find practical ways to overcome them, which is where experience helps.

Learn from Those Who Have Been There Before

Almost as important as the tools themselves are the advisors behind them. Consultants draw from best practices identified through hundreds of engagements to help clients navigate the complex terrain of establishing a successful EA practice, so being comfortable with and confident in them is part of picking the right vendor package. Many of the best consultants were previously EA customers, so they have faced the same challenges and have the foresight to help companies plan for how they can work with data and effectively bridge the gap from tool functionality to underlying business value. It’s important to keep this in mind. When it comes down to it you are not just selecting a tool – you are also selecting the people that stand behind it.

So remember before you select your tool, you need a thought out, formal EA strategy and the reliable experts to help you accomplish it. Remember: The bells and whistles of your EA tools do you no good if they don’t have an established, demonstrable purpose and you lack the trusted advisors that can help you achieve your goals.

Check out this report, Troux Solutions Overview, to learn more about how our solutions help decision-makers take a step back to see the big picture to understand exactly where they should be investing in their business.

Almost as important as the tools themselves are the advisors behind them. Consultants draw from best practices identified through hundreds of engagements to help clients navigate the complex terrain of establishing a successful EA practice, so being comfortable with and confident in them is part of picking the right vendor package. Many of the best consultants were previously EA customers, so they have faced the same challenges and have the foresight to help companies plan for how they can work with data and effectively bridge the gap from tool functionality to underlying business value. It’s important to keep this in mind. When it comes down to it you are not just selecting a tool – you are also selecting the people that stand behind it.

So remember before you select your tool, you need a thought out, formal EA strategy and the reliable experts to help you accomplish it. Remember: The bells and whistles of your EA tools do you no good if they don’t have an established, demonstrable purpose and you lack the trusted advisors that can help you achieve your goals.

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