Management perceives of architecture in many different ways. As skeptical architects, we believe architecture will not be successful and useful in business as long as the perception continues. Unfortunately, benefits and outcomes of efforts in enterprise-level architecture are difficult to show immediately. Since they are not obvious to senior management, those managers do not perceive its value. Hence, a different approach may be needed to change this perspective. In reality, enterprise architecture is fundamentally about the organization's structure.
The value to management is best described and realized by applying models in enterprise architecture to anticipate the impact of changes in business structure or to assess damage after rapid changes in the business environment occur that require rapid restructuring. Changes in the business environment such as competition, economic downturns, social changes and new technology can alter the enterprise structure, often dramatically. Enterprise architecture can help the enterprise respond to these changes. A set of interconnected architectures developed over time, as we described in our most recent article, is most useful for assessing changes.
We provide here an example of assessing change considering the following elements: the state of business needs and requirements, the utilization of an architectural framework, the identification of sets of architectural contexts and, finally, the implications of architectural rendering.
Business Needs and Requirements
Businesses often have conditions that constrain the way they have to operate, governmental, state or local regulations, for example, which places demands on a business process. Some certain items are needed or are necessary to complete the process (i.e., raw materials; information; or certain prescribed process steps, tasks and/or actions). Describing the business need entails narratives or perspectives that are interrelated with various business conditions, which provides the business context. Such descriptions respond to these six basic interrogatives: who, what, when, where, how and why. Comments on the perceptions follow.