Enterprise Architecture Tools – Top 10 Questions they answer

A common approach with enterprise architecture software implementations is to use the ”what questions do we want EA to answer” approach. All major enterprise architecture tools vendor use this as part of any services engagements to help define scope.

Of course there is a lot of synergy in terms of questions people are looking for EA to answer and we thought it might be good to share the top 10 questions we have seen come by during our implementations. Note these questions are not in order of most to least but just a list J

  • Which capabilities are impacted by strategies?

A core planning output which helps understanding the impact of strategies to technology. A foundational piece of EA, if you don’t have this question in your list, it definitely has to be at some point if you really want to do real EA.

  • Which capabilities are impacted by initiatives?

This is more the implementation version of question #1. So this time it is the active initiatives & projects and their impact to capabilities.

  • Which capabilities are supported by which functions?

Some organizations see capabilities and functions as the same thing. We prefer to see Capabilities as the higher level and the functions as the more detailed breakdown. This questions is required to cleanly be able to link applications into the mix (see next question)

  • What applications are used for what functions?

The core of application related to function is probably the most core EA piece. It shows overlaps with multiple applications doing the same thing and on the other side it helps identify gaps where certain capabilities are not supported by any applications.

  • What applications are used by which locations/offices?

This will help you understand the usage of applications by the different locations that exist. A great entry into consolidation and standardization of applications

  • What applications are impacted by initiatives?

This provides a clean impact analysis on your applications but added is a timeline as initiatives are usually sequenced/scheduled (vs. strategies are often still in planning phases)

  • What applications are depending on other applications?

This is usually achieved via data integrations (a.k.a. interfaces). Very important when using your enterprise architecture tool for impact analysis.

  • What information is carried by which interface?

Almost a follow up on question #3. This gives insight in how information flows through the organization, what the dependency between applications really means.

  • What information is stored in which data store?

Again on the data side, allows for better management of data, also opens the door to proper system-of-record insight in case this is needed

  • What technology is supporting which application?

Basic understanding of how infrastructure is used by applications is fundamental. Used for upgrade insights, managing standards, identifying high-risk technologies etc.

When looking at the enterprise architecture tools there are usually one of two ways on how to answer these questions:

The first and often preferred method of delivering an answer to these questions is to produce (even auto generate) diagrams that would show the answer to a question in a visual format. In our opinion the most valuable format of answering. A picture still says more than a thousand words.

The second method enterprise architecture tools normally support is the ability to produce excel like reports for creating the answer to a question. A classic example that shows everything that is dependent on application X.

So there you have it, the top 10 questions we have seen most in our implementations and the two methods how answers for these questions are usually delivered.

Now also not included is a whole series of state architecture viewpoints EA would normally produce and should be considered outputs of EA.  Applications landscapes, technology footprints, information models, integration overviews etc. To learn more about enterprise architecture, click here.

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