I am pleased to announce two pieces of research I worked on over the summer, focused on continuing to build our research on our outcomes-based enterprise architecture model.

Enterprise architects want a best-in-class enterprise architecture department, but they can only achieve this by having the right foundational priorities and architecture capabilities. Values drive the architecture function’s behavior and how the business experiences it. Architects can be high-handed and impractical; in fact, Forrester data shows that 50% of IT decision-makers perceive architects as not practical and not adding value, showing that, as a discipline, we have much progress to make.

Architects Should Adopt Eight Foundational Priorities …

Forrester interviewed a range of heads of architecture and enterprise architecture practitioners to establish eight foundational priorities that architects need to focus on to move the dial on stakeholder perception. Unsurprisingly, the foundational priorities emphasize values that can help architecture better serve its business stakeholders. To find out more, Forrester clients can read my report, Base Your Architecture Practice On Strong Foundational Priorities.

… And Focus On Enhancing Four Architecture Capabilities

Our research also found that architecture functions are increasingly mature in how they implement architecture capabilities comprised of: 1) people; 2) practices; 3) artifacts; and 4) engagement. We found the following across each of these areas:

  • Stakeholder engagement is the area requiring the greatest focus. Unsurprisingly, architects often report feeling undervalued, sometimes lacking influence and power. Businesses that get the relationship with their architecture function right report a strategic partnership. The architecture function becomes a key strategic partner helping the organization use technology to execute its strategy. Our research showed a decidedly mixed picture and plenty of room for improvement to meet this lofty vision.
  • Training and enablement of architects is mature, but career paths, recruitment, and retention suffer. Mature EA practices do a lot of training and enablement of architects on the latest technologies and methodologies. What they need to focus on improving, though, is the key question of how to recruit and retain good architects. Career paths need a lot of work, with many organizations having ceilings for architect career progress unless they take on management responsibilities. Customers we work with are seeking to challenge traditional career structures equating seniority with management in order to boost retention and reward for key architecture talent.
  • Practices and artifacts are the most mature areas, but take care to avoid paper factories. Architects unsurprisingly are very adept at selecting an enterprise architecture methodology (mainly the TOGAF® Standard) and creating lots of documentation. Architects are guilty, however, of creating standards, guidelines, and architecture patterns that end up as shelfware. It is important to make sure that the architecture practices and artifacts produced do not fall into this trap.

To find out more information on practical actions for architecture capabilities, Forrester clients can read my research Improve Your Enterprise Architecture Capabilities to Drive Outcomes.

Forrester clients with questions should request a guidance session or inquiry with me or with my colleague Charles Betz to discuss in detail.