Archive for September, 2009

Enterprise Architecture 100 Success Secrets

BlokdijkFront

“There has never been an Enterprise Architecture manual like this.” Proclaims the back cover and I’d have to agree with that. The top one hundred Enterprise Architecture questions answered in 160 pages including the table of contents! With what can only be described as reams of white space.

When you consider that each question is afforded 1.6 pages its really disappointing to find how many answers can only manage one or two sentences on the second page. I really don’t know why they bothered including blank pages, there’s plenty of space for your notes where the text should be.

Apparently this book is a collection of questions from across forums, education programs and from a consultancy.  It’s a pity that it not a collection of answers. If you think the big questions of EA can be more than outlined in a page then you’re in for a surprise. It ain’t that simple! The back cover continues “with tips that have never before been offered in print”,  I’d suggest that there might be a good reason for that!

This manual, oh how the word has been devalued, is like a collection of poster notes and about as insightful. If you’re looking to impress at a cocktail party buy this book. But, make sure that you have a good escape line because the minute someone serious takes you up you’re done.

As deep as a sand bar, a book for fakers and bull shit artists. If I could get my money back I would. In my opinion a cynical exploitation of the EA community.

Blokdijk, Gerard 2008, Enterprise Architecture 100 Success Secrets, No publisher claims this work

ISBN 978-0-9804-8528-8

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The Economic Benefits of Enterprise Architecture

EconomicFront

This book could be described as useful without being particularly interesting. If you are in to accounting you’ll love this book and if you’re not you should love this book. Because it gives you the ammunition you need to fight those “what’s the value of EA” battles.

The book starts off with a basic introduction to EA that will be familiar to those who have already read one of Schekkerman’s books. It proceeds quite quickly to deal with the big questions of business IT alignment, stakeholder viewpoints and data collection all explained in fairly simple, but effective terms.

From here the book starts to get into the ditty gritty with chapters on cost benefit analysis, return on investment and net present value, the usual set of techniques that few organizations seem able to rise above.

And the it really starts to get serious. There are chapters on activity based cost management, benchmarking, capital asset planning and business cases and IT investment management. And then it pours it on, more and more and more. Innovation benefits management, Six Sigma and a dose of applied information economics. But that’s still not enough, there’s architectural trade off analysis methods and enterprise value management. Then around page 240 the book turns it’s attention to the US government’s  EA and accounting standards and you almost feel sorry for them.

This is not a book to start your library with. If you are starting out in EA and are not an accountant I’d suggest you wait about five years before you even take a look at this book, make that seven. This is @ 300 pages of fairly hard core economic reasoning and modeling, not for the faint hearted or artistically inclined. Innocent souls will be crushed by this work! But is it good? Yes, very.

The only other book I can think of that covers these topics is Grigoriu who covers business cases, ROI and similar topics in a limited but competent way. If Grigoriu is a 5 on this stuff then Schekkerman is a 50.

This is a book for the CEO, CFO and senior architect only.

Schekkerman, Jaap (2005), The Economic Benefits of Enterprise Architecture, Trafford Publishing, Victoria, British Columbia.

ISBN 141206729-4

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Building an Enterprise Architecture Practice

2VansFront

This book was written by two of the authors of Dynamic Enterprise Architecture (DEA) as a follow on. If you purchased that book then you should probably get a copy of what is practically a companion volume.

The book presents a model for accessing how well your EA practice is doing and how to improve those things that need to be. Which are often obvious and devastatingly simple, if we could just see them.

This a typical piece of European EA writing, no nonsense, concise and direct. Designed to be used by those managing EA groups it is obviously best suited to those that have adopted the Dynamic Enterprise Architecture philosophy for whom its straight talking advice will come as no surprise. Even if you haven’t heard of DEA, but you are looking to give the old practice a bit of a checkup I’d recommend you take a look at this book. But be warned if you are not a DEA er  it might take a little bit of effort to get your head around their point of view.

What van den Berg and van Steenbergen offer is a two dimensional way of looking at EA that I believe leaves the typical “lets keep doing more of the same only more rigorously” capability maturity models where they belong … in the gutter. The two vans take Wagter et al’s (2005) Quadrant model which classifies EA practices as Isolated, Losing, Barrier, and Enabling and give the reader an objective way of plotting their position on the Quadrant. This won’t be easy reading for a lot of practices. However, if you have the courage to do it the rewards are there, because they do have concrete answers to your problems which are clearly the result of experience. No over synthesized symmetrical assessment models for these guys, just an effective tool which sometimes does look a little untidy. But rest assured they do not make things up to balance the model.

This book is 200+ pages of systematic wisdom and is the sort of book a practice should revisit on a regular basis. If you have Dynamic Enterprise Architecture by Wagter et al. (2005) then I’d say that this book is almost a must. If don’t, think a little more carefully be for you send your money.

Van Den Berg, Martin and Van Steenbergen, Marlies (2006), Building an Enterprise Architecture Practice, Sogeti, Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.

ISBN 978-4020-5605-5

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Dynamic Enterprise Architecture

WagterFront

This book is not so much about EA as about doing EA, or perhaps more accurately about managing doing EA. It’s about the processes and governance that surround EA and managing the interface to the business. A topic with surprisingly little good literature. If you are responsible for managing an EA practice or setting one up this book should be on your must have list.

One of the major challenges for enterprise architecture is managing the relationship with the business. On the one hand there is the almost mindless pursuit of short term flexibility and  on the other the architects who struggle to minimize the damage and build universal flexibility on a sustainable foundation.

Most architecture is anticipative, the usual current state, desired state and transition plan approach and while this is all good and sound, frankly its often simply too slow. What Dynamic Enterprise Architecture gives you is options. Options that allow the negotiation of none compliant approaches to solutions. The basic proposition is that sometimes getting a system in is a matter of short term survival and that over rides the anticipative architectural approach. They call this defensive architecture. There is also an offensive version, where the organization has only a narrow window of opportunity. Obviously, in such circumstances the build of a “throw away” system must be at least considered.

Dynamic Enterprise Architecture seeks a balance between agility and coherence through a mechanism called the Strategic Dialogue. This all sounds fine, but here’s the catch in the wrong organization I can see Dynamic Enterprise Architecture being touted by the uninitiated in the same way that some promote agile development methodologies. The brutal reality is that in many organizations this is simply the politically correct term for unrealistic expectations and no methodology at all.

The authors provide a set of principles that will guide an organization towards a Dynamic Enterprise Architecture practice and along the way make many pertinent points. In some ways this book is the tactical end of Ross, Weill and Robertson’s vision of architecture as strategy. And like RWR they make a number of points about the need for business to mend its ways and get with the program. “Finally business management should recognize that they are restricting business development if they consider IT as a purely supportive process instead of a source of new possibilities.” (p. 67) and  “IT and business management determine together which business objectives the organization should pursue.”(p. 74). I just know that will not go down well in some places.

This is an excellent book and a fairly easy read at 240+ pages. It should be read principally by executives and chief architects. However, any architect would find it useful. Recommended

Wagter, Roel, van den Berg, Martin, Luijpers, Joost, van Steenbergen, Marlies, (2005), “Dynamic Enterprise Architecture”, SOGETI, John Wiley and Sons Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey

ISBN 978-0-471-68272-1

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