Gartner EA Summit: Beyond the Business Case- Projects in the Enterprise Architecture

In this session, Robert Handler (of Gartner) is talking about the relationship between Enterprise Architecture and Project Portfolio Management (PPM). First off, there is clear overlap between the two efforts, provided that your PPM efforts are involved with the actual project definition and approval efforts, and not simply involved after project are approved and underway. Both efforts have the common desire to define projects that are intended to progress the company from a current state to a future state, although the criteria involved in project selection probably varies between the two.

On the PPM side, the biggest challenge is that this often isn’t happening. The survey quoted in the slides showed that the bulk of the time in PPM is spent mediating discussions on project priority, and just over 50% of the projects are even under the purview of the PPM effort. On the EA side, the slide states that most efforts are “mired in the creation of technical standards,” operating too much in a reactionary mode to current projects, and have very little effort on gap analysis. So, the end result is that neither effort is necessarily meeting their objectives, especially in the areas where they overlap, and neither effort is communicating well with the other.

He’s now showing an anchor model, and demonstrating how projects can be mapped onto the anchor model to show areas of concern and overlaps. I mentioned this anchor model in my blog entry on the Beginner’s Guide to Business Architecture session, and it’s jumping out again. This is definitely something that I need to get more information on, and hopefully start leveraging. He also presented a common requirements matrix and scoring approach which can assist in prioritization. The one challenge I see with this latter approach is that the projects all have to come along at the same time, which isn’t always the case. We’ll see if he gets to my question on this subject that I just submitted. (Note: he did, and pointed out that it doesn’t assume that everything comes in the same time, but that you do need to be willing to make adjustments to in-flight projects such as removing resources, altering scope, etc.)

Back to EA side of things, he’s advocating the use of patterns, principles, models, and standards as part of the architectural guidance that projects use. No arguments from me here. His slide also states that resource utilization in one organization went from 67% to over 80% when these are used effectively.

His closing recommendations are pretty straightforward. First, EA needs to be coordinated with PPM activities. Someone needs to take the first step to establish some synergies. Second, use coarse-grained EA deliverables for better project selection criteria. Third, use fine-grained EA deliverables on projects as gating factors. Fourth, capture some baselines and measure overall improvements, such as how long the design phase takes, productivity, etc. Finally, evolve maturity and effectiveness from where you are toward the ideal.

Overall, this was a very good session. It could have been a bit more prescriptive, but in terms of clearly showing the relationship between PPM and EA, it hit the mark.

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