Crafting an Agile Enterprise Architecture

You often hear the terms digital transformation, business agility, and enterprise engineering in the age of digital technologies and rapid change. The adoption of digital applications, solutions and processes has allowed organizations to increase efficiency. This in turn allows them to respond to changing customer needs and trends in a more flexible and agile manner.

Digital transformation, increased mobility and a remote workforce has led to a paradigm shift in the business model. Adopting a more flexible approach has increased power, and companies that build resilience in their operations are beginning to see gains. The result is greater productivity, faster time to market (TTM), and increased consumer satisfaction.

fitness culture

Digital transformation succeeds in a business environment that embraces a more collaborative and flexible philosophy. Moving from simply running agile business processes to being agile across the board requires a shift in the company’s mindset. When a company develops a truly resilient architecture, everyone in the organization is involved in providing solutions; From business operations and technology to marketing, finance, compliance and security. Flexible culture transitions from a company-oriented culture to one oriented towards individuals or customers, while embracing the principles of collaboration, co-creation, ownership, flexibility and communication.

Short term courses and fluid planning

Agility redefines the organization’s architecture from the traditional scheme of centralized governance, long development cycles, scheduled quarterly reviews, and reliance on the regression delivery method. Instead of long-term strategic and operating plans, an agile organization architecture includes short-term cycles and flexible, customer- and market-focused planning. The language is changing from top-down project management and delegations to continuous product development, experimentation, testing, and monitoring within collaborative product teams.

Essentials for designing your smart enterprise architecture

A truly agile architecture scheme requires fundamental shifts in business dynamism. There are three fundamentals that stand out as requirements for achieving flexibility across the entire organization.

  • cooperationThe cornerstone of successful enterprise-wide agility is collaboration. Innovation will thrive when it is decentralized, and isolated silos give way to cross-functional, agile, and self-organizing teams. An isolated IT team leads to project delays, budget overruns, hard-to-measure productivity, and separation of business and operations. Each department must be involved in supporting and achieving key business objectives.

Teams with a mix of business lines and IT professionals accelerate development and delivery, significantly reducing time to market. Based on a common customer-centric goal and vision, there is shared ownership of results and a deeper level of engagement throughout the organization. Daily communication and collaborative feedback fuel creativity and problem-solving and drive continuous integration and development. Collaborative input from colleagues, both within and outside the organization, is essential for organizations, technology, and solution architects.

  • Set current statusAdopting agile practices and principles throughout the organization entails potentially massive change. Without a clear roadmap for navigating the process, the company can falter. Instead of achieving smaller scale simplicity, there is increased complexity and blurred vision. Before a company can successfully adopt an agile architecture, the current state of operations must be fully understood. Essentially, the functionality, capabilities, applications, and technical stack should be outlined. Everything, from the data catalog to business process workflows, needs to be mapped. Business leaders can ask the following questions to analyze the current situation and assess points of impact:
  • What projects should we prioritize and what capabilities will they require?
  • What processes depend on which software applications?
  • If we remove one or two apps, how will that affect operations?

Once the current state diagram is drawn, a business can operate in an organized manner to create the future state of its architecture easily and at its own pace.

  • Balance quick turnaround with day-to-day operationsContinuing to work with some of the existing structures for some time can allow the higher level of the organization to facilitate the adoption of an agile mindset and culture. In the iterative process of developing agile architecture, architects, CEOs, and technology leaders will need to strike a balance between transforming initiatives and effectively maintaining day-to-day operations. They will have to decide what direction is needed against the support and how fast they should be.

If the focus is first on the value provided to customers, then the architecture will be prioritized according to the most strategic projects, capabilities and applications. Agile architecture will adopt a “just enough” approach to project design and delivery.

Agile architecture improves collaboration

Institutional agility facilitates more direct communication and engagement of enterprise architects within cross-functional teams. Through daily discussions and various points of contact, architects can provide guidance, advice, and feedback on IT decisions and help teams jointly own solutions.

By working together, enterprise and solution engineers can develop a complete vision of the IT landscape and how it will need to be modified to suit future needs; Reducing waste and optimizing resources. Solution architects can view the architectural map across all applications, solutions, and systems, and collaborate on improvements. They can also help the organization’s architects extend the scope of standardization across the entire business. The cornerstone of collaboration at the core of rapid transformation enables architects and non-technical leaders alike to gain greater clarity and alignment.

agility value

Business value is greatly improved when enterprise architecture combines agile practices. According to a report by McKinsey & Co. , companies moving to more flexible models can improve financial performance by 20-30%, with 30-50% improving operational performance, TTM, and customer satisfaction scores. Embedding an agile model in operations, people, and technology will drive continued CI/CD support, ground-breaking innovation, and synergistic collaboration—and ultimately, maximize customer outcomes.

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