I read Mike Kavis’ blog Is Enterprise Architecture only for big companies? a couple of weeks ago and I think that the points that he makes are spot on. I certainly agree with Mike that EA is as beneficial for an SME as it is for a large organisation. How can understanding more about your organisation and having that information to hand ever be a bad thing when trying to make decisions, whether they are regarding technology, people, or the focus for the future?
I am also in complete agreement that 20% of EA is better than none. I wonder sometimes if people confuse accuracy with completeness here. Certainly if you are working from the wrong information then this could be more damaging than having no information. But partial information must be better than none, especially if you are picking the elements of EA that are important in that instance. The key in any organisation, large or small, is to identify your most pressing business need and use EA to solve that need (see my blog from March 15th – Identifying the problems your EA needs to solve). Some kind of framework is important in as much as you need a consistent approach to your EA efforts, but this is more pressing in a large organisation with many more architects, each with their own perspective!
As regards cost, if you have had a look through our website, you will have noticed that one of our aims is to make EA more accessible to SME’s. It is our view that it is hard to ‘do’ EA without a tool (see Jason’s blog from Feb 19th – PowerPoint and Excel for Architecture Modelling; Why Not?), and that, to date, SME’s have been unable to join the party, so to speak, because buying and introducing commercial EA tools often requires significant investment. We hope that Essential, being free and relatively easy to install and use, has removed at least this barrier.