Federal enterprise architects: Selling EA requires stealth

Architects recommend ways to persuade senior executives to support enterprise architecture initiatives

What is the best way to communicate the benefits of enterprise architecture to senior executives? First, do not use technical jargon. That was what a panel of federal chief architects advised colleagues at FCW Events’ recent Enterprise Architecture Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C.

“We’re trying to push EA from a business perspective,” said Marlene Howze, chief architect at the Labor Department. The worst thing to do in selling enterprise architecture is talk about it in technical terms, she said.

Howze, who created an enterprise architecture program office at Labor, said her first challenge was gaining support from the department’s chief information officer. She encountered further challenges along the way in trying to acquire automated enterprise architecture management tools.

Other enterprise architects on the panel described their own challenges. Darren Ash, associate CIO for information technology investment development at the Transportation Department, said chief architects should avoid developing a disproportionate sense of enterprise architecture’s importance in senior executives’ decision-making.

“Think about the culture at the agency,” Ash said. Include capital planners and security officers in meetings so they can speak about the benefits of enterprise architecture from their perspectives, he added.

Ash said offering quick, immediate fixes, rather than promising future benefits from a mature enterprise architecture, is the best way to sell it.

Ash advised chief architects to practice explaining enterprise architecture in a few sentences. At any time, he said, a senior executive might spring the question, “What is EA?” and architects must anticipate such opportunities. “Prepare for the elevator speech,” he said.

Rising Stars

Meet 21 early-career leaders who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • SEC Chairman Jay Clayton

    SEC owns up to 2016 breach

    A key database of financial information was breached in 2016, possibly in support of insider trading, said the Securities and Exchange Commission.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DOD looks to get aggressive about cloud adoption

    Defense leaders and Congress are looking to encourage more aggressive cloud policies and prod reluctant agencies to embrace experimentation and risk-taking.

  • Shutterstock / Pictofigo

    The next big thing in IT procurement

    Steve Kelman talks to the agencies that have embraced tech demos in their acquisition efforts -- and urges others in government to give it a try.

  • broken lock

    DHS bans Kaspersky from federal systems

    The Department of Homeland Security banned the Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab’s products from federal agencies in a new binding operational directive.

  • man planning layoffs

    USDA looks to cut CIOs as part of reorg

    The Department of Agriculture is looking to cut down on the number of agency CIOs in the name of efficiency and better communication across mission areas.

  • What's next for agency cyber efforts?

    Ninety days after the Trump administration's executive order, FCW sat down with agency cyber leaders to discuss what’s changing.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group