Architecture Board

Role    Responsibilities    Setting Up    Operation


Role

A key element in a successful IT governance strategy is a cross-organization Architecture Board to oversee the implementation of the strategy. This body should be representative of all the key stakeholders in the architecture, and will typically comprise a group of executives responsible for the review and maintenance of the overall architecture.

The cost of establishing and operating an Architecture Board are more than offset by the savings that accrue as a result of preventing one-off solutions and unconstrained developments across the enterprise, which invariably lead to:

Responsibilities

The Architecture Board is typically made responsible, and accountable, for achieving some or all of the following goals:

Setting Up the Architecture Board

The establishment of an Architecture Board is typically triggered by one or more of the following occurrences:

In many companies, the Executive Sponsor of the initial architecture effort is the CIO (or other senior executive). However, to gain broad corporate support, a sponsoring body has more influence. This sponsoring body is here called an Architecture Board, but the title is not important. Whatever the name, it is the executive-level group responsible for the review and maintenance of the strategic architecture and all of its sub-architectures.

The Architecture Board is the sponsor of the architecture within the enterprise, but the Architecture Board itself needs an Executive Sponsor from the highest level of the corporation. This commitment must span the planning process and continue into the maintenance phase of the architecture project. In many companies that fail in an architecture planning effort, there is a notable lack of executive participation and encouragement for the project.

A frequently overlooked source of Architecture Board members is the company’s Board of Directors. These individuals invariably have diverse knowledge about the business and its competition. Because they have a significant impact on the business vision and objectives, they may be successful in validating the alignment of IT strategies to business objectives.

Operation of the Architecture Board

The recommended size for an Architecture Board is four or five (and no more than ten) permanent members.

After architecture implementation begins and some initial information on the success or failure of the selected technologies is available, the Architecture Board should conduct reviews on a regular schedule to monitor the architecture.

The Architecture Board also works with various groups within the organization to resolve issues, expand the scope of the architecture, review projects, and look for triggers that indicate a necessary change in the architecture. Some examples of these groups are:

In the ongoing architecture process following the initial architecture effort, the Architecture Board must be re-chartered. The Executive Sponsor will normally review the work of the Architecture Board and evaluate its effectiveness; if necessary, the Architecture Review Process is updated or changed.

In order to keep the Architecture Board to a reasonable size, while ensuring enterprise-wide representation on it over time, membership of the Architecture Board may be rotated, giving decision-making privileges and responsibilities to various senior managers. This may be required in any case, due to some Architecture Board members finding that time constraints prevent long-term active participation.

However, some continuity must exist on the Architecture Board, to prevent the corporate architecture from varying from one set of ideas to another. One technique for ensuring rotation with continuity is to have set terms for the members, and to have the terms expire at different times.


Copyright The Open Group, 1999