I saw on one of the LinkedIn Architecture Forums a variation on the classic question of measuring Enterprise Architecture value and effectiveness.  The member wrote: “……..So what are the most useful ways in which you have measured the effectiveness of architecture efforts/outcomes in organisations you have worked for”?.  Of course this elicited a stream of predictable responses and suggestions relating to levels of compliance, investment alignment, productivity improvement, sourcing effectiveness, blah, blah, blah.

I often get asked this question and I’ve taken to offering this slightly tongue in cheek advice: Publish a notice across the business and technology organisations advising that the enterprise architecture team is being dismissed imminently and will not be replaced. Then stand back and see what response you get.

No response? Well that would be very bad. If responses predominantly take the form “that’s a shame, they were nice guys”, and or “pity, they seemed pretty good architects”, then that’s still pretty bad.  Basically, if there is no uproar from disaffected business and technology stakeholders then your EA effort has to all intents and purposes been ineffective.

If there are no business stakeholders demanding to know who will provide them with their business technology roadmap, no business strategy execs demanding to know who will maintain their business architecture and capability models, no project managers complaining that their projects will not have clear guidance on technology to reduce project risk and cost, no one in the IT Leadership Team concerned at lack of strategic guidance then I’m sorry – but it’s a fail.  Bottom line, if there is no-one prepared to argue a case for the retention of you and your team then the unfortunate truth is you may as well start looking for a new position.

The point I make is that for all the metrics and measures we might collect and use in an attempt to substantiate our own perceived view of value, the reality is that if the value is not felt by business and technology stakeholders outside the architecture practice then the value is not really there.  This goes to the heart of good enterprise architecture. For every artefact you create, ask the question: Who will use the artefact, do they expect to use it, in what processes will it be consumed and what questions will it inform?  If you can’t answer these questions positively then I suggest you question the worth of the effort to produce it.

I challenge you to test yourself. No need to publish a report of your demise – just ask yourself “who would really care if my team was terminated – and why would they care”!  If you’ve convinced yourself that there are stakeholders that would care, take the extra step and go and actually ask them “just how much”.

Originally posted as 'EA Effectiveness - ONE Measure That Matters' on the Enterprise Architects website.

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