Next-Level Enterprise Architecture Plan

Dynamic tool for the companies of the future 

Enterprise architecture is now playing a much more important role in supporting innovation at digitalized companies by providing valuable input and advice. At the same time, new instruments are needed in order to ensure the continued effectiveness of enterprise architecture approaches. The Next-Level Enterprise Architecture Plan presented here represents such a dynamic and collaborative instrument that can be used by both business stakeholders and enterprise IT departments. 

The Next-Level Enterprise Architecture Plan offers a complete conceptual depiction of the context within which a business organization operates. In other words, it involves a lot more than just IT. Among other things, it describes the essential connections and relationships between a company’s business, its organization, its IT systems, and its data.

“The purpose of the Next-Level Enterprise Architecture Plan is to offer all relevant stakeholders – for example the CIO, CEO, and the portfolio manager – a common knowledge and information platform that reflects their respective points of view and can be clearly understood by everyone,” 

says Joachim Schmider, Coordinator of the Next-Level Enterprise Architecture Plan workstream and also Head of Enterprise Architecture at the automotive supplier Schaeffler AG. To make things a little clearer, Schmider uses the analogy of an architectural drawing of a residential building: The bricklayer looks at the plans in order to find out which bricks need to be laid where, the electrician needs to know the setup for the cable and wiring ducts, and the client looks at the drawing to decide which rooms he or she would like to use for which purposes. “Nevertheless, everyone looks at the same drawing, or at a certain section of the same drawing,” Schmider explains. 

Looked at like this, an architectural drawing – or an enterprise architecture plan – no longer seems to be a static depiction of isolated elements. In the case of an enterprise architecture plan, the various business and IT stakeholders who contribute their expertise make the plan collaborative and dynamic. In other words, such an enterprise architecture plan can offer added value in different forms to the various stakeholders involved, while also helping to ensure:

Joachim Schmider
The goal is to offer all relevant stakeholders a common knowledge and information platform that reflects their respective points of view and can be clearly understood by everyone.
Joachim Schmider,
Workstream Coordinator
  • The effective management of complexity – by making clear the connections between various components of the “conceptual depiction of the company” and therefore revealing modes of action and dependencies as well. 
  • Harmonization and optimization – by pointing out interdependencies between the organization, processes, IT systems, and data in a manner that enables the development of fact-based arguments and decisions.
  • An agile operating model and culture – by promoting cross-functional collaboration and improving communication between the business organization and IT units, thereby making EA a component of virtually every business discussion.
  • The acceleration of the digital transformation – by highlighting changes and their effects, which in turn promotes the creation of new digital skills and establishes data-driven and/or data model-driven thinking.
  • Cost and value optimization – by increasing transparency and development speed, which reduces process and technical debt and complexity, while at the same time increasing the value contribution achieved. 
  • Risk minimization – by creating a basis of facts regarding interconnections and modes of action, which helps make it possible to correctly prioritize changes and, for example, consider and incorporate security and compliance aspects from the early stages of conceptualization. With its greater transparency and broader cross-functional utilization, the Next-Level Enterprise Architecture Plan enables the implementation of proactive changes that increase business flexibility. 
Several challenges still need to be overcome before companies can actually begin using a next-level enterprise architecture plan. The darker the gray shade of the “honeycombs,” the longer it will take to achieve the corresponding capabilities.

In order to generate the aforementioned added value, progress must be achieved with visualization technology, and a new EA metamodel needs to be created that includes process, business capability, business object, strategy, and application elements. According to the workstream, this metamodel should display the following attributes: 

  • Integrity – Connections between all EA data objects from their sources (PPM, CMDB, SAM, ERP…);
  • Data centricity – Business data (objects) are a central element of the EA metamodel, and EA models utilize available operational data wherever possible.
  • Context sensitivity – The visual structure of the enterprise architecture plan is target-group focused and based on the requirements of the respective target groups.
  • Accessibility – Barrier-free access to EA information for all interested stakeholders; ideally with self-service systems. Everyone can use EA knowledge, and also contribute to knowledge growth.
  • Dynamism – The enterprise architecture plan reflects changes and interdependencies. It also allows for the simulation of future target states in accordance with various contexts.
  • Intelligence – The creation and refinement of the enterprise architecture plan is supported by recommendations, forecasts, and context-based viewpoints that are made possible by new IT capabilities (AI, graphs, visualizations, etc.).

In order to implement the Next-Level Enterprise Architecture Plan, enterprise architecture as a whole, but also artifact architecture plans, must develop new skills. According to the workstream, EA should be used not only in operational IT applications but also as a strategic and cross-functional planning and management tool. 

To this end, next-level enterprise architecture plans need to include expanded tools that can process EA data from a persona point of view, integrate operational data into EA models, allow for simulations, and use AI to expand EA models and make them more simplified and automated.

Schmider acknowledges that it will definitely take some time until companies implement and actively utilize the ideas and concepts described in the Next-Level Enterprise Architecture Plan. The process has already begun, however and “we’ve taken a major step forward with our precise description of the objective we’re trying to achieve, the strategic added value it will result in, and the roadmap that will help us get to where we want to go.”