All the Puzzle Pieces – Enterprise Architecture

Having been in the IT Advisory Business for the past 20 years, it would be hard not to recognize patterns that have worked exceptionally well for both large and small companies.   We’ve worked across 12 different industries and engaged with nearly 100 domestic and global businesses over that time.

We’ve learned that having an Enterprise Architecture that uniquely aligns with business strategy objectives is essential for success. We’ve also learned that when IT and the business are not aligned, there is a high probability that the organization will eventually fail.   In general, having a well-thought-out Enterprise Architecture helps the company scale and ultimately frees up management’s attention from consistently fighting fires and struggling with profitably.

We define Enterprise Architecture as:

A series of logical application and infrastructure models used for organizing, analyzing, designing, planning and executing business strategy.  

Pulling together the appropriate architectural puzzle pieces and making them fit together is truly both art and science.   By identifying the critical core business processes, shared data and integration technologies across the Enterprise, organizations can achieve the necessary standardization, automation and integration. This is the first step towards business and IT alignment.

As in most things in business, Enterprise architecture should not be an academic exercise; it is all about solving tangible business problems and laying a foundation for future success. There are 4 stages of progression that most organizations go through:

  1. Functional Silos – Efforts focused on addressing immediate functional requirements
  2. Standardized Technologies – Efforts focused on standardizing on platforms that can improve efficiency
  3. Automated Transactions – Efforts to reduce systems and standardize end-to-end processes and data through integration
  4. Modular Agility – Development of loosely coupled modular components that can be reused and customized to meet specific localized requirements

The natural progression through these stages first requires establishing technical architecture expertise. There is a big difference between simply implementing a siloed system and progressing along an architecture path that reduces operating costs (via economies of scale) and provides Enterprise agility.  At some point, the organization recognizes that organizational synergies are more valuable than departmental autonomy.   The development trend as companies mature is towards Enterprise systems and shared data and away from siloed applications that do not integrate. Along this path, organizations need to take a hard look at their mission critical mega-processes and determine three things:

  1. What processes needs to be standardized and automated?
  2. What data should become shared data across the Enterprise?
  3. What high-value integrations will enable efficiencies?

It doesn’t matter whether you are implementing a new ERP, HRIS, Supply Chain or E-commerce solution; the initiative will meet with limited success without the ability to gain control of end-to-end processes through some degree of standardization. In general, architectural decisions in these areas require strong IT Governance as well as a partnership between IT and business stakeholders. The ability for exceptional execution requires technical standards that reduces overall complexity and enables the smooth transition between architectural stages.

In addition, as companies struggle to keep up with constant change from Sarbanes-Oxley, Basel II, HIPAA and Global requirements, it is essential that they consider their overall Enterprise Architecture.  Many rapidly growing companies experience significant challenge in their early stages because they are typically 18-24 months behind actual business growth and compliance requirements.  This execution gap will continue until the organization can establish the appropriate IT Architecture and Governance processes. Organizations moving to the cloud also encounter many challenges around business transformation and building links between existing legacy applications and cloud applications.

If your organization is interested in establishing an architectural foundation for success and efficiently scaling your business operations, HBSC Strategic Services can help. For more information please contact us at 1-800-970-7995 or send us an email at

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