Enterprise architecture: 10 things to avoid

Gartner's take on the most common pitfalls

Gartner has released its view on the ten most common pitfalls when it comes to enterprise architecture. They are:

1. The Wrong Lead Architect:

Gartner identified the single biggest EA problem as a chief architect who is an ineffective leader. He or she may understand EA well but has ineffective leadership skills that even a good organisational structure and staffing levels cannot overcome. Gartner recommends that such a lead architect be replaced by someone with strong ‘soft’ skills such as enthusiasm, communication and passion, as well as being well respected and strategically minded.

2. Insufficient Stakeholder Understanding and Support:

This happens when employees outside the EA team don’t participate in the EA programme, EA content is not used in projects and management questions its value. Gartner’s solution is to make EA education and communication a top priority to secure executive-team sponsorship. “The key is to ‘sell’ first and architect later,” said Mr Bittler.

3. Not Engaging the Business People:

When IT and business goals are not aligned, resultant problems include non-technical people trying to make technical decisions while enterprise architects become too reactionary and tactical in response to projects. To overcome this, Gartner recommends that enterprise architects get involved in the development of the business context and engage jointly with other employees in the business architecture.

4. Doing Only Technical Domain-Level Architecture:

This dated EA approach is still in use in some organisations and is even narrower in scope than technical architecture. Holistic EA best-practice is much broader as it includes business, information and solutions architecture.

5. Doing Current-State EA First:

Successful EA provides prescriptive guidance but current-state EA does not, so it delays delivery of EA value and hinders the creation of good future-state EA. “The temptation is often to do the easy – current-state – EA first,” said Mr Bittler. “Instead, establish the business context and then focus first on future-state EA.”

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