Doing Enterprise Architecture

Things have been very busy here at TechWatch. For the last year we’ve been ’embedded’ in a JISC project to pilot the use of Enterprise Architecture (EA) at three universities: Liverpool John Moores (LJMU), Cardiff University and King’s College London. The hard work is just starting to bear fruit, and today we’re launching the first of two reports on EA called Doing Enterprise Architecture: enabling the agile institution.

For anyone who hasn’t come across EA before, we’ve described it (in our ‘Introduction to EA’ chapter) as:

‘a high-level, strategic technique designed to help senior managers achieve business and organisational change. It provides a way of describing and aligning the functional aspects of an organisation, its people, activities, tools, resources and data/information, so that they work more effectively together to achieve its business goals. EA is also about achieving desired future change through design. It holds that by understanding existing information assets, business processes, organisational structures, information and application infrastructure (the ‘as is’ state) it is possible to ‘do something different’, something new and innovative (the ‘to be’ state)’.

For TechWatch, this is the first in what will hopefully become a new series of what we call Early Adopter Studies. Where our existing remit is to anticipate and speculate about new technology, the EAS will provide information about early stage futures work that JISC has funded. The idea is to take the stuff that might sound a bit far-fetched or not do-able and show how, actually, people are starting to think about how they might be able to do it.

This is not straightforward. EA is a really, really, big thing to undertake. There was an article in the BCS magazine this month that was basically saying it is too big to ever be implemented successfully, and yet there are supposedly lots of private companies who’ve been implementing this (successfully) for the last 15 years. However, it’s something that universities just can’t ignore. There are a lot of policy drivers pushing this – national governments, for example, saying the public sector has to start getting  its act together – but of course, just because there are policy drivers doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily any more achievable.

The TechWatch EAS is just an introduction to some of the key concepts and a set of detailed case studies that describe what the participating universities actually did during the course of the pilot project and how useful they found it. There’s a second report due in June that will follow a more standard TechWatch format in that it will provide analysis and a synthesis of some of the main findings. If you can wait until then, of course.

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