Many Small and Medium Enterprises perceive Enterprise Architecture to be unnecessarily exhaustive for the size of their organisations yet ironically, these are the businesses which often stand to benefit most from good strategy, governance, process and design.
Generally speaking an advantage SMEs enjoy over large enterprises is nimbleness
-by which I mean the ability to rapidly accomplish change- but this agility often comes at the cost of structure
. In the absence of adequate structure a disconnect between business objectives and the capabilities delivered by a busy IT department typically arises and in the very worst circumstances, SMEs become "vendor-led"
by their external suppliers.
This misalignment between requirements
almost inevitably increases cost and exacerbates risk, and diminishes efficiency. Organisational friction and often a great deal of frustration is the result, culminating in a crisis or at the very least, arrival at an epiphany.
Surveying such a landscape and realising the concomitant risk to business continuity in alarm (if not outright apoplexy) is usually the moment a new client determines the need to retain an Architect, and engages Technology Professionals
for our services.
Our first engagement with a new SME almost invariably follows the pattern depicted in the diagram above, stakeholders realise change is a necessity and retain us to:
-Perform an analysis of the Current State
-Design the optimal Future State
-Perform a Gap Analysis
between the current state and the future state.
-Develop a Roadmap
or in some cases a Migration Plan
to get there.
All of which is relatively straightforward and "light touch" enough to suit the scale of an SME context, but one might reasonably argue the scope of such a delivery is merely a subset of real EA, that such a delivery might better be described as "periodic crisis management."
We make this point to our clients and endeavour to convince them of the value of engaging us continuously throughout the Enterprise Life Cycle
, to avoid the peaks and troughs of long periods of stagnation interrupted every few years by an engagement with us to ameliorate the stresses of crisis management: devolution interspersed with revolution.
There is a better way. Continuity is the alternative we offer and it's an easy sell on a cost/benefit basis. Having delivered the initial piece of work at least one of our team has a thorough knowledge of the organisation and has built relationships with the business, internal delivery teams and external suppliers whilst crucially, the remainder of Technology Professionals has accumulated a reasonable familiarity with the organisation through the process of internal governance we conduct collectively for approval of artefacts delivered to our clients.
After the initial engagement we're extremely well-placed to develop strategy, conduct governance, design process, shepherd project delivery and implement the structures of on-going EA as a service
to SMEs which otherwise couldn't justify employing a full-time resource. Our challenge is to tailor the methodologies, principles and disciplines of good EA to the scale and budget of the SME -informed by the knowledge of the organisation we've acquired through that initial delivery- and I'm pleased to say we're rather good at it.
Even if we do say so ourselves.
--Simon Anderson. Auckland, 13/v 2019.