If you have ever heard the terms roadmap, feature, functionality, enhancement, competitive matrix, migrations, product launch, then you were lucky enough to be a part of a company that makes use of enterprise architecture.  All these terms have one thought in common and that is the future state of the business.  That is about it.  I say this because these words are thrown around without really knowing what they mean and how they apply to EA.

In reference to a SaaS product:

  • If you mention the words roadmap or feature to a salesperson, all they want to know is what does it do and when is it going to be launched.  They do not take into account the why, where, and how.
  • If you mention the words functionality and enhancement to a product owner, all they want to know is how to implement and who needs it.  They do not take into account the why.
  • If you mention the words competitive marketing and migrations to a marketing person, all they want to know is when is it going to be launched and who is going to launch it.

When you think about the future state of an enterprise, you have to first look at the current state and not try and solution it.  This is what happens when we all start using the terms feature, roadmap, competitive matrix.  All of sudden we start trying to play catch-up or fall into a customer-centric view of the business.  This is well and good but can be detrimental for an enterprise that wants to be innovative.  Take a look at Apple, they have become the epitome of product-centric roadmaps.  They listen to their customers but if they would take into account every single customer, or the one that screamed the loudest they would not have the product and revenue they have today.

The true balance of an enterprise’s process is only realized when the current state is analyzed, and based off the results, a future state is brainstormed.  Architects are guilty of spending too much time on the current state of the business instead of looking ahead.  Small operational changes need to be made in order to get an enterprise to a more favorable state.

It is like setting a goal of losing 30 pounds (I picked some arbitrary number).

You cannot:

  • Waste time thinking about how much you weigh
  • What you should have done to lose 30lb.
  • Keep eating the same and keep exercising the same
  • Add a banana to your diet thinking it has all the vitamins you need
  • Blame others for the process

You CAN:

  • Adjust one meal out of your day to the correct nutrients
  • Add 10 more minutes to your workout routine
  • Add multiple vitamins to your diet
  • Count on a supportive team to help you reach your goals

You will see, in ANY process, you DO NOT have to reinvent the wheel!  Unless your company’s process is severely broken, most of the time, all that is required are minor tweaks.

Ross, J., Weill, P., Robertson, D. (2006).  Enterprise Architecture as Strategy.  Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, Ch, 2, Ch. 3.