Completing the TO BE Architecture.

The TO BE Architecture is the overall infrastructure of the organization.  It will lay down standards on how various applications and processes are going to use it.  

Over the years I have run into confusion about what an EA is and does versus the Business, Application, Technical, Data, Information, and Security Architects versus the solution architects.

The EA is focused on the full organization across all disciplines.   They are the link between the business and IT.  They have the ability to work with all levels of management.  They stay at a very high level and connect all components wether it is the people and processes or applications and technology.

The Business, Application, Technical, Data, Information, and Security Architects also focus on the full organization but they specialize in their discipline. A business architect would understand a very high level of the business processes, the org structure and the clients/members, they would be focused on keeping standards and management disciplines in place.  

The Solution Architects focus on one component.  They understand that one component inside and out.  For example they may focus on one application or one core process.  

All levels are equally important and must be able to work together.  Not every organization employs each level and depending on the organization one person may fill many hats.

The EA level TO BE Architecture is a very high level blueprint. The focus is to understand what is important to the business and translate that into a technical infrastructure.  Determining how to get from where we are today to where we want to be in the future starts with identifying the biggest business priorities.  Is it the customer experience, is it the ability to share knowledge, is it attracting new customers and growing the business, is it an amalgamation, is it sales or is it something completely different?

The biggest priorities will drive out the way we evaluate and select the technical A

architecture.  We are trying to determine how we set up the technology we have today to meet the needs of the future.  I am a big believer in reusing as much as possible where it makes sense.

How would we tie our client interactions into one experience?  How would we create knowledge and the ability to find, use, and share it?  How would we increase our client base and scale out the business?  Have we just acquired a new business and are looking at merging multiple systems into one?

Determining the biggest priorities from information we have learned through out the previous steps and then answering questions similar to the examples above will help determine what the backbone of the organization should be.  Once you find possible solutions you will be able to start determining how you should go forward.  You may uncover areas you will not be able to meet or you may think of completely new areas.  You may identify potential risks.

I like to think of more than one possible solution, and build it out with supporting documents. Each possible solution will be supported with things like a list of pros and cons, timelines, and resources.  The goal is to present these possible solutions to the executive team.  They need enough information to make a decision on which solution to go forward with.

A meeting with the full executive team needs to be scheduled to review each possible solution.  I treat this meeting  similar to the ones from the previous posts.  The EA’s job is to get the juices flowing, to present a few possible solutions that will meet all of the facts you have learned to date and then drive out a consensus across the executive team.  The goal of this meeting is to determine the TO BE Architecture, to get buy in and approval.

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Lisa Pantuso

Lisa spent almost 30 years working in both the private and public sectors, and has a reputation for getting things done. As the Government CIO Senior Information Architect she led a cross government Enterprise Content Management initiative. The Provincial ECM Strategy was published in 2012 and recognized as the first Provincial Strategy to be endorsed by all Ministries. In 2020, Lisa left to start teaching others the approaches and techniques that have set her apart.