Leveraging Enterprise Architecture for Startup Organizations
By Andrea Pudlo
Enterprise Architecture (EA) can greatly benefit all kinds of organizations. However, companies that are in the developmental stage, like Airborne Wireless Networks (AWN), are in a unique position to reap even greater rewards from applying an EA framework to its initiatives. Ross, Weill, and Robertson (2006, 9) define EA as the “organizing logic” behind tying a company’s information technology (IT) infrastructure to its business processes with the ultimate goal of more effectively achieving current and future business objectives. Although a startup organization will not have accumulated an assortment of legacy systems and processes that make integration and standardization within a business difficult at best, this type of company can benefit by incorporating EA from day one to gain more business advantages. These advantages revolve around more efficient business and IT operations to include lower costs, more flexibility to respond to challenges, capabilities that the company can share across departments, and better return on and reduced risk for investments (The Open Group 2013). Streamlining operations by following an EA framework from the company’s inception can give startup companies the edge they need to stand out in a competitive environment and truly highlight their products.
When developing an EA program, an organization like AWN will benefit by using a tailored architecture framework to give the program consistency while also ensuring it employs best practices and can truly reflect the needs of all the stakeholders. The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) allows for this tailoring within its Architecture Development Method (ADM), a process through which an organization can address its specific business requirements by following architecture phases devoted to business, information systems, and technology. The Enterprise Architecture Report for Airborne Wireless Networks discusses architecture issues in each of these domains to include the business of implementing its airborne wireless network, designing the technology to make the vision a reality, and determining the information systems needed for the company’s IT services, for monitoring of the network, and for establishing a customer relationship management business process. By following the phases of the TOGAF ADM with a specific focus on Phase B Business Architecture, it is possible to determine how AWN will get from its current architecture to its desired target architecture while identifying the gaps between the two. This gap analysis is critical for putting together the work packages and timeline that make up the Architecture Roadmap. It is incredibly important to tie these work packages into the overall business strategy to highlight the value of this transition process to the goals of the organization.
Throughout the process of using the customized EA framework for the architectural issues at the organization, it is crucial to keep in mind that EA is more than simply an IT initiative. Applied properly, an EA program is of strategic importance to effectively grow the capabilities of the company. Townson (2008, 9) discusses how EA is “critical” to the success of a business, helping it to manage innovation and pursue a competitive advantage. Using EA in this way, AWN and other organizations position themselves advantageously to make better decisions in a more timely manner that are in line with the strategic goals of the company.
Ross, Jeanne W., Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson. 2006. Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating A Foundation for Business Execution. Boston: Harvard Business Press.
The Open Group. 2013. “TOGAF 9 Foundation.” Document number B133. Prepared by Rachel Harrison. United Kingdom: The Open Group.
Townson, Simon. 2008. “The Value of Enterprise Architecture.” SAP White Paper, March 1. Accessed March 21, 2017. http://pubs.opengroup.org/onlinepubs/7699929399/toc.pdf.