News and Commentary

By Michael Fulton
CC and C Solutions Advisory Board

When I talk to colleagues and others about Enterprise Architecture, I commonly refer to how I think about Enterprise Architecture Maturity. I figured it would be worth sharing a little more detail about that for additional discussion and revision. Definitely would appreciate any feedback you might have.

Before I show you the model, let me preface by saying that I am trying to provide something that makes sense to people and organizations who are just starting out in architecture as well as to people and organizations that have been doing architecture for a long time. I am not trying to capture every nuance, but instead trying to provide a simple, conceptual model for people to work from.

The entry point for most individuals and organizations into Enterprise Architecture is Solution Architecture. EA tends to start out IT-focused because that is where it has much of its historical roots, and most EA teams report to the CIO or elsewhere within IT function.

As an EA, you mature, and you expand your scope: first from a breadth of coverage perspective, then moving from proactive to reactive and finally moving outside IT and really impacting the business model of an organization.

I see three significant steps in this journey.

First, entry into the model in the first place is key. Architecture requires a much different mindset than business analysis or application design. Understanding that mindset is the first big step.

The second major step is moving from reactive to proactive. This is critical because it provides significantly more unique value to an organization. But it also requires much more buy-in and support from senior management.

The third major step is really moving outside of IT, to directly impacting the business model of the organization. When you make this step, you must consider many more variables in the conversation. The potential impact, both positive and negative, is much higher.

There are many EA organizations that never make it to Level 3 or 4, and that’s OK. Architects can add significant value at Levels 1 and 2. The key is to know where you are on the maturity scale and to stay in your lane. When you try to run out ahead of your organizational support and buy-in, that is where you will get in trouble.

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Michael Fulton led CC&C Americas before taking up his current leadership role at Nationwide Insurance.