Making the business case for enterprise architecture (EA); or a systematic approach to the alignment information technologies with business functions seems like “chip shot” in today’s cost-conscious business world. IT departments around the globe are continually seeking ways to reduce sky-rocketing maintenance costs and to eliminate redundant legacy information systems. The business-side of the house is continually pressing for bigger, better and faster technological capabilities in order to sift through and capitalize on the vast amounts of data that has been compiled. When a project comes along that addresses these concerns, one would assume that it would be “slam dunk” for selection by the firm’s governance board. Conceptually speaking, EA makes complete business sense as it has the potential to revolutionize how IT is conducted around the world; similar to how Toyota’s Total Quality Management system revolutionized how manufacturing operations are performed. But what about the return-on-investment, total cost of ownership, and discounted cash flows? Can an enterprise architecture program pass the rigorous financial tests of the reluctant-to-spent corporate bureaucrats? More importantly, can enterprise architecture survive the politics of a mature organization that is already set in their ways? This article applies the same analytical approaches that one would use in the selection of a new application or hardware to see how well EA holds up to the test. This work also addresses some of the key areas of contention that may arise when an organization begins to debate why they may or may not require an enterprise architecture program at their firm. Finally, several best practices are highlighted which identify the hallmarks of a well-implemented EA program.
Journal of Enterprise Architecture