Paras: 6 solutions to red flags

Departments and major agencies can check their progress against these six red flags.

The Government Accountability Office is assessing agencies' progress in establishing effective enterprise architectures. GAO will use the Framework for Assessing and Improving Enterprise Architecture Management to gauge how well agencies are aligning business processes and information technology investments with their missions.

Troux Technologies' commercial customers are also striving to integrate their EA programs into a management infrastructure that lets them change quickly and efficiently, but they often stumble. Six red flags often set off alerts about possible trouble.

Before GAO's auditors begin, the departments and major agencies targeted for investigation can check their progress against these six red flags.

The first two are governance-related red flags that indicate an organization's EA program might be a paper exercise that would not effectively guide the business toward strategic decisions. The four additional red flags highlight problems related to team structure, unbalanced approaches and execution errors.

one

EA processes

GAO's concern: The organization lacks published and visible EA processes to approve EA artifacts. Solution: Establish a standard workflow to route new EA artifacts, such as models, standards documents and procedures, through an authoritative body. The organization's executives usually form that body and can ratify EA directions.

one

EA links

GAO's concern: The organization lacks processes to apply EA artifacts to projects. Solution: Integrate EA into the development process. From start to finish, ensure that defined touch points systematically guide projects toward EA compliance.

one

EA alignment

GAO's concern: Program management offices and the EA are not aligned with strategic business initiatives. Solution: Issue an executive-level mandate for a collaborative effort to use appropriate EA artifacts in highly funded, cross-organizational projects.

one

EA role

GAO's concern: The EA function does not balance strategic and tactical domains. Solution: Establish roles to guide focus. Core EA team members should devote 60 percent to 80 percent of their time to the strategic domain. Subject matter experts should dedicate 60 percent to 80 percent to the tactical domain.

one

EA disconnect

GAO's concern: Existing artifacts cannot answer key business questions. Solution: Use an EA tools infrastructure to capture key business issues. Then show cause-effect links that demonstrate why certain decisions support the business.

one

Outdated EAs

GAO's concern: EA artifacts are not kept up-to-date. Solution: Install processes and an infrastructure to identify aged components and continuously refresh them. Revisit the entire architecture on a regular schedule. n

Paras is vice president of strategy at Troux Technologies, a provider of information technology governance software solutions. He can be reached at george.paras@troux.com.

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