At The Essential Project we think the essence of EA is to support the decision making process within an organisation, and that this can be achieved by providing the right information to the right people at the right time. This is not as easy as it sounds; how do you know who is going to need what information to support them in making which decision, when? This has been the subject of other blogs, and I’m sure it will appear again so, short of saying that if you’re going about your EA in the right way you will understand the concerns of your stakeholders and so will have an idea of what they need to know, when and why, I’ll move on.
One of the big problems facing architects, I think, is that there is a huge amount of information available to support decision making, but it is not all in one place. An organisation may have information in EA tools, BPM tools, CMBD’s, Data models, Application catalogues, localised spread sheets and so on. It is not, therefore, an easy task to gather the information you need and formulate it into a suitable report.
We believe that what we refer to as an EA Content Hub (see diagram below) can resolve this issue by enabling the relevant information from all the disparate information sources to be combined in one place. This gives access to the raw data from the various vertical silos and allows reports specific to the stakeholders in your organisation to be created to aid their decision making, from supporting CxO’s in strategy definition and implementation to supporting specific business, IS or infrastructure projects. The EA Content Hub would not replace or remove the need for the other tools, as each will continue to have their own specific purpose to fulfil for the organisation.
We think this type of approach is crucial for EA going forward and will start to become widespread as it allows the EA Team to provide decision support across the organisation, across architecture layers and at various levels of detail – really what EA is all about.
We are seeing more and more demand for this type of approach from our user base and are successfully applying the Essential Project toolkit to support it. As we delve further into the specific capabilities needed, we are finding that Essential is well placed to perform the role of an EA Content Hub for a number of reasons. Firstly, it has simple, but flexible integration capabilities and so importing the data from the various tools is relatively easy (most tools provide some form of XML-based data interchange format). Secondly, it has a comprehensive meta-model, which allows most information to be imported without the need for significant modifications to be made. Thirdly, Essential is geared towards organisations and architects defining the specific views that their stakeholders need, rather than relying on more generic out of the box reports, so the reports and views we are able to provide to stakeholders are geared specifically to answer their concerns and aid their decision making.