Why ITSM and Agile Need Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise Architect Look at Skyline

The business environment is changing – not just in the use of technology, but how the fundamental building blocks of businesses (people, process, information, strategy, operations, etc) are put together. Past industrial revolutions have been centered around using structure, repeatable processes, and standards to create predictability through consistency of execution. Unfortunately, the drive for consistency has resulted in “average” performance and the inability for companies to exploit opportunities in a timely manner.  What we are seeing in the modern business environment is a harsh correction and attempt to re-capture the value opportunities being lost to overly-rigid structure.

As part of this correction, the traditional pattern of define -> design -> build -> operate that provided a clear connection between EA functions and Service Management in the past are being challenged with dynamic business models and agile approaches to change.  Some business and technology leaders have gone as far as to make the declarative statement that “with modern Agile approaches, EA is no longer needed”.  If one is to look at EA in the context of how it was executed in the past, this statement could be valid but modern EA is now embracing the principles of agility [Link to SAFe/Agile page], continuous improvement and value-centricity.  

A context for guiding change

By understanding where the business is trying to go (vision and strategy), how it fits into the broader competitive marketplace (environment), how the existing operations support that direction (people, process, technology and data), and the changes required to achieve the desired state (investments) – companies can more effectively evaluate new opportunities, understand how they will impact the big picture and make more confident decisions that balance short and long-term benefits.

The business-technology ecosystem for modern businesses is getting more and more complex every day.  Vertically integrated supply chains designed and controlled by a single company are being replaced by ecosystems of partners.  Business processes are being continuously tuned and refined to meet the current needs of the company and optimize value creation.  Instead of being purpose built and durable assets, IT systems are increasingly being assembled from off-the-shelf and 3rd party components – often by business users as temporary disposable solutions to meet immediate needs.

Sustainable Business Value

As companies struggle to embrace the accelerated rate of change and increased complexity, IT and business leaders are challenged with creating sustainable business value, mitigating risk, ensuring continuity of customer experiences and keeping costs in check.  ITSM, portfolio management and GRC are all critical capabilities that leaders rely on to manage in the modern business environment, but the impact potential of these capabilities is severely limited without an underpinning architecture to serve as the connective tissue to bring the parts of the business together.

 Successful companies have learned that Modern EA does not have to be a hindrance to the cultural changes leaders are trying to drive, but can instead serve as an accelerant.  Modern EA provides a framework of structure and intent to enable the business to evolve faster, mitigating risks and increasing the value return from individual investments.  Sparx Services North America is the industry leading provider of architecture tools [link to EA Page], training [link to training page] and consulting [link to consulting page] to enable companies to model their architecture. Mapping out the connective tissue between strategy, people, processes, information and technology can help you surface the operational insights to increase the value and performance of your ITSM, GRC, portfolio management and Agile capabilities.  To discover more about how Sparx can help your company, contact info@sparxsytems.us

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Chris Armstrong

Chris Armstrong