No Time for Enterprise Architecture Planning? This Iterative Approach is for You

The fast approach to the EAP processBy Stephen McGrady

As I mentioned in a previous article, I’m a big believer in Enterprise Architecture Planning. However, I’m also a realist. I know that in today’s hyper-competitive and very fast-moving business environment, about the only enterprises that are enthusiastic about going through the full nine-month or one-year EAP process are government agencies. Everyone else needs results now.

So how can you do Enterprise Architecture Planning without boiling the ocean? By taking an iterative approach instead of a monolithic approach. In essence, you break EAP down into small enough pieces to make it doable. Here’s how.

Start with the Low-Hanging Fruit

Instead of scheduling months of meetings like you would with a full EAP process, take a much shorter “workshop” or “30-day assessment” approach. The goal is to tap into the shared knowledge that your managers and tech people have about what the business does and what’s important. Work together to identify some issues that, if addressed, would bring immediate benefit.

What are the problems that are driving everyone crazy? For example, perhaps there’s a slew of data that must be entered twice because your Human Resources system won’t talk to your Finance system. Or maybe as a result of recent acquisitions you’ve got three different financial systems that all must be kept up and running; consolidating these three systems would make everyone happy.

Whatever it might be, quickly identify a few high priority items that would have fallen out of a full Enterprise Architecture Planning process, and determine which can provide some quick wins.

Build Political Capital

Address the first of these high priority items. If a few things were identified, work through the list in order of priority. As the positive results accrue, you’ll develop a track record for delivering things that are of value to the business. This will give you more latitude to do the next cut of this process, then the next cut, then the next. With this iterative approach to Enterprise Architecture Planning you quickly deliver results, and gradually build the political capital to do more rounds of planning.

Look for Leverage

As you talk to business users and IT professionals, you will hear the same problem coming up over and over, although different groups will describe it in different ways.

For example, sales, marketing and finance may be complaining that they can’t reconcile their monthly results reports. Meanwhile the IT organization may be lobbying for a better storage management and planning system to get control of ballooning storage consumption costs.

What may be needed is a data mart or data warehouse that stores the information once and serves it up consistently to satisfy different functional requirements for reporting and analysis. Viewed in this context, work to define the company’s data model will be a high-payoff, pain-relief activity, not an ivory-tower exercise.

Keep Moving Forward

Eventually you may even gain buy-in to go through the full multi-month EAP process. But there’s a good chance that you won’t. No matter how much political capital you build up, it could be that your organization will never get behind a full EAP. In this case, you need to simply continue to approach it as an iterative process. Think of this as a way to apply agile methodologies to Enterprise Architecture Planning.

Continue to learn from your managers and executives, continue to tackle projects and build value for the organization, and continue to gain the understanding that will enable you to create that detailed road map for how the enterprise will handle data, applications and technology over time.

Need Help?

CIO Professional Services has a proven methodology for helping enterprises work through the iterative, “fast win” approach to EAP. To learn more, contact us at 650-353-5855 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


About Stephen McGrady

Stephen McGrady has served in technology vision and leadership roles, including Vice President of Services, Chief Information Officer (CIO) and General Manager, for over 20 years. Since 2006 he has focused on executive management consulting that enables business clients to improve performance through intelligent use of information technologies.

About CIO Professional Services

CIO Professional Services LLC is a top-rated IT (Information Technology) consulting firm, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, specializing in strategic IT consulting and business / IT alignment. Companies come to us seeking assistance with their information technology strategy as well as to source interim CIO / CTO employees or fractional CIO / CTOs.

CIO Professional Services LLC is a top-rated IT consulting firm, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, specializing in strategic IT consulting and business / IT alignment. Companies come to us seeking assistance with their information technology strategy as well as to source interim CIO / CTO employees or fractional CIO / CTO's. Our IT experts can assist with integrating IT into your business processes - better - up to and including 'project rescue' in areas such as ITSM / ITIL, IT service strategy, and IT outsourcing. Business / IT strategy projects we have worked on include upgrading ERP systems, cybersecurity and IT consulting, IT assessment and organizational change. Cloud computing and business IT remain critical in today's business systems, and beyond that to the migration to the cloud of business IT. Our IT consultants can assist with all aspects of business / information technology alignment. Contact us today for a free phone consultation - we service clients not only in San Francisco or San Jose, but throughout the United States.

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