Tiemann touts enterprise architecture

Enterprise architectures in federal agencies are poised to become operational processes governing agency transformation, said Mike Tiemann, a longtime enterprise architecture proponent who is now a senior associate at Booz Allen Hamilton.

“We’re on the threshold of moving into the other side,” he said, speaking today at FCW Events’ Enterprise Architecture conference and exhibition in Washington, D.C.

Enterprise architecture is a planning process meant to link means to ends, Tiemann said. Information technology is only one of those means, he added. Enterprise architecture is often pigeonholed as an IT function, but it’s really a blueprint for rationalizing and modernizing agencies’ entire infrastructure and business processes.

“Ultimately, the chief information officer may be working for the chief architect, instead of the other way around,” Tiemann added.

Agencies need mature enterprise architectures to guide investments and plan for the future, he said. “You would never think about going today to work in a building that didn’t have plans and the steel in there didn’t have specifications.”

In decades past, over-exuberance with technology often led agencies to go on unplanned systems procurement binges. “Those days are gone,” Tiemann added. “The bank is not going to give you funding to build a large building if you hired a couple kids with crayons.”

Because enterprise architecture is not just about IT, the operational side of agencies needs to be involved in creating an enterprise architecture from the start, Tiemann said. Technology has penetrated the business world to the point where there’s no strict line between achieving the mission and the underlying infrastructure, he added.

Architects can gain traction for enterprise architecture by publicizing best-case applications, Tiemann said. “Get the information to the people who are banging their heads against the wall.”

The Office of Management and Budget requires agencies to have an enterprise architecture, but they shouldn’t do it merely for a good grade on the quarterly President’s Management Agenda score card, Tiemann said. “There’s a lot of hard work in establishing an enterprise architecture program,” he said. Doing it to get a green score on the traffic light-colored score card “it just a waste of time.”

Doing enterprise architecture right can help agencies unlock funds from OMB, Tiemann said. When making the case for a new investment, it helps to have documentation about how the program fits into the existing infrastructure. “I’m not talking about the minutes to the executive committee when they voted en masse of these $250,000 worth of projects by a raise of hands,” he said. “I’m talking about the detailed relationship of each of these items.”

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.


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