Sept. 11, 2009 — Gartner analysts have identified the 10 biggest enterprise architecture pitfalls, as well as practical advice on how organizations can avoid them.
Scott Bittler, research vice president at Gartner, said it is much easier to avoid the pitfalls in the first place than to try to address the problem after the fact. “Applying the ways to avoid these pitfalls results in achieving EA benefits faster and reduced risk of program failure,” said Bittler in a statement. “It will also improve the credibility of IT among business leaders.”
The 10 EA pitfalls identified by Gartner are:
1. The wrong lead architect: The biggest EA problem is a chief architect who is an ineffective leader. Gartner recommends that such a lead architect be replaced by someone with strong ‘soft’ skills as well as being well-respected and strategically minded.
2. Insufficient stakeholder understanding and support: This happens when employees outside the EA team don’t participate in the EA program, EA content is not used in projects and management questions its value. Gartner’s solution is to make EA education and communication a top priority to secure executive sponsorship. 
3. Not engaging the businesspeople: When IT and business goals are not aligned, resultant problems include non-technical people trying to make technical decisions while enterprise architects become too reactionary and tactical in response to projects. Gartner recommends that enterprise architects get involved in the development of the business context and engage jointly with other employees in the business architecture.
4. Doing only technical domain-level architecture: This dated EA approach is still in use in some organizations and is even narrower in scope than technical architecture. Holistic EA best-practice is much broader as it includes business, information and solutions architecture.
5. Doing current-state EA first: Successful EA provides prescriptive guidance but current-state EA does not, so it delays delivery of EA value and hinders the creation of good future-state EA. Bittler’s recommendation: establish the business context and then focus first on future-state EA.
6. The EA group does most of the architecting: This is a pitfall because the EA content is typically off the mark as it was not informed by those on the business side. The primary job of architects is to lead the EA process rather than impose EA content on the organization. They should form virtual teams to create content and seek consensus on the content.
7. Not measuring and not communicating the impact: The value of EA is often indirect, so it may not be obvious to everyone in the organization. This then exposes the EA program to risk of failure. Gartner recommends that enterprise architects create a slide to demonstrate each success story of EA applied to a project. They should include measurement and documentation of EA in the program plan.
8. Architecting the ‘boxes’ only: Enabling better business agility and integration is key but architecting standards for the ‘boxes’ (business units) in process, information, technical and solutions models doesn’t address this. Architects should focus more on the links between the boxes.
9. Not establishing effective EA governance early: Enterprise architects must resist the temptation to wait for more architecture content before setting governance processes and instead develop content and governance in parallel.
10. Not spending enough time on communications: Key messages about EA are not intuitively obvious, so enterprise architects must work to educate the business. It is critical that organizations develop and execute an EA communications plan with messages tailored to each audience.
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