Relating Architecture to the Enterprise

Introduction    Challenges    Meeting the Challenges    IT Governance    Summary


This section gives an overview of the strategies and techniques that are involved in successfully relating IT architecture to the enterprise it is intended to serve. Each strategy or technique is described in detail in a separate, free-standing section, hyperlinked from this section, but the set of techniques is also summarized here, since they are in many ways inter-dependent and mutually re-inforcing.

Key Challenges

To be successful, a Technical Architecture must address two key challenges: it must be (and be seen to be) actionable and actioned across the enterprise.

These challenges are to some extent inter-dependent, in that it is easier to ensure that the architecture is actioned if its responsiveness to the needs of the business is clearly demonstrated.

Meeting the Challenges

A variety of strategies and techniques are available to ensure that these challenges are addressed successfully.

To demonstrate that the Technical Architecture is linked to high-level business requirements and enables the business to achieve its objectives:

To ensure that the Technical Architecture is actioned:

The importance of an effective enterprise IT Governance strategy is elaborated on below.

IT Governance


The purpose of IT governance arrangements is to ensure that the senior management of an organization retains control of, and responsibility for, its IT operation. The arrangements clarify who owns the enterprise's IT resources, and in particular, who has ultimate responsibility for their integration to create the synergy that is essential for business success.

IT governance is much broader in scope than architecture, but it has important ramifications for the success of the archiectture function within the enterprise.

There is a similarity between technical architecture and architecture in the physical world, in that politics has an important role to play in the acceptance of both architectures. In the real world, it is the dual politics of the environment and commerce, while in the world of the technical architecture a consideration of corporate politics is critical.

A technical architecture imposed without appropriate political backing is bound to fail. In order to succeed, the technical architecture must reflect the needs of the organisation and recognize that those needs must be derived from consensus. Technical Architects, if they are not involved in the development of business strategy, must at least have a fundamental understanding of it and of the prevailing business issues facing the organisation. It may even be necessary for them to be involved in the system deployment process and to ultimately own the investment and product selection decisions arising from the implementation of the technical architecture.


As explained above, there are three important elements of IT Governance strategy that relate particularly to the acceptance and success of architecture within the enterprise:


The following table summarizes the techniques that are relevant to the challenges described at the
beginning of this Section.

Strategy / Technique

Challenge / Issue

Architecture Board Architecture Compliance Reviews Architecture Principles Business Process Domain Views Business Scenarios IT Governance Strategy Project Impact Assessments
Ensure decisions within Technical Architecture are clearly linked to business principles and requirements.



Ensure role of Architecture in enabling business objectives is understood.



Ensure Architecture is actioned.

Table 1: Relevance of Techniques to Key Challenges

Copyright The Open Group, 1999, 2001