Speakers: EA must meet business needs

Enterprise architecture meets an agency's needs only if it solves an agency's business needs, according to speakers addressing an all-government audience today.


Any architecture that Information technology experts dream up in a vacuum, without the input of the executives in an agency, will gather dust on a shelf, they said. The Enterprise Architecture Conference and Expo, produced by the Digital Government Institute, was held in Washington.


Jim Rolfes, chief enterprise architect at the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., made that point with regard to segment architectures. They are a subset of enterprise architecture that divides organizations into smaller business units in order to create architecture that more specifically meets their needs.


"Segment architectures can be great academic exercises, but in the end you want this information implemented," he said.


Diane Reeves, chief business architect at the Interior Department, said her office collaborates with the agency's chief financial officer to include real budget data in their plans rather than using the estimates used previously.


However, agency officials are busy carrying out their organization's missions, and it can be hard to get their attention, she said. Interior has a long list of wide-ranging missions, but she said at least one of the agency's functions is counting frogs -- monitoring frog population as a gauge of the water supply.


"Half the time, if you don't approach [officials] just right, you can't even get into their offices," she said. "They're busy counting frogs. They don't have time for your architecture stuff. So just don't tell them it's architecture stuff."


The agency's business processes are at the heart of everything the agency does, Reeves said.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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