If you’re familiar l with enterprise architecture (EA) and project management teams in a business setting, you understand these two units have overlap in their responsibilities and their value to an organization. But the specific value each offers can be hard to distinguish, especially in organizations where these roles are not well defined.
At the same time, some organizations can suffer from the opposite problem: siloed business processes that limit the overlap and interaction between EA and project management, to the detriment of the organization's higher-level strategy.
In order to create a more successful working relationship with minimal overlap, it’s important to understand the specific role each of these units serves.
As business technologies became commonplace starting in the 1980s, organizations needed a way to develop and manage strategies for these technologies—especially as they related to overall business goals. Strategy should drive the technology. Technology should not drive the strategy.
Enterprise architecture was born out of that need. And as the applications of business technology have expanded beyond IT to encompass virtually every aspect of business operations, today’s EA is tasked with supporting a digital transformation that aligns with the business’s strategy and enables a more integrated, efficient business technology infrastructure.
Enterprise architects typically have a background in IT or computer science, and they’ve typically built up their resumes working in business IT and supporting EA in a business setting. Many EAs also acquire certifications in specialties such as cloud architecture and undergo training that’s specific to the solutions they use in their EA role.
A number of business solutions have been created to assist in EA design, implementation, and analysis, making it easier to manage EA as it relates to the company’s structure, asset utilization, and portfolio management. These solutions include enterprise architecture management (EAM) platforms, as well as portfolio management and analysis tools, among others.
With solutions like Changepoint’s Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM), EAs and executives can align business goals and IT strategy, improving the management of existing applications and tools as well as finding efficiencies, all while planning for the future.
Whereas EA is an enterprise-wide initiative, project management takes a narrower focus. This arm of business operations is charged with completing individual projects that have an impact on the larger business strategy and outcomes.
Project management requires a number of roles to streamline workflows and complete projects on time. One or more project managers will be in charge of overseeing the project, depending on its scale. A project team could involve a number of employees and contractors who are responsible for completing smaller tasks that contribute to the overall project.
Project management may also include a steering committee or resource manager to ensure the project is on schedule, making efficient use of resources, and on track for completion and the achievement of preset business goals—this includes both project-specific goals and goals tied to the higher-level business strategy.
A project management office (PMO) is often utilized, providing standards and structure to project management processes. This makes it a vital tool to ensure the efficient, on-time completion of all projects underway in an organization and the management of resources across projects.
Where Enterprise Architects and Project Managers Work Together
Although enterprise architecture and project management are different areas of focus, requiring different personnel with their own specialized skill sets, they can and should work together in certain instances.
Typically, any project involving technology will have oversight from enterprise architects to ensure the project is on track to fulfill the needs of the higher-level business strategy and eliminate redundancies. In essence, EA lays out the path for project management to follow, and project management is responsible for driving the project down the correct path.
Although the involvement of EA can vary from project to project, it’s normal for EAs to oversee multiple projects at once, ensuring that they’re sharing resources well and contributing—both individually and as a whole—to the strategic goals defined by executive leadership.
Conversely, Project Managers are often brought in to manage and align cross-functional resources when EAs are driving large, enterprise-wide digital transformation.
The difference between enterprise architecture and project management may seem insignificant at first glance, but each plays a crucial role in helping businesses coordinate activities and ensure value is being produced through disparate business activities.
If your organization is struggling to define these roles or leverage them for greater internal performance, it’s time to seek out tools that can help you make this alignment a reality.