Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution 


By Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, David C. Robertson
Reviewed by Upesh Parekh, CISA

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What common thread can be observed among unsuccessful companies? The most common factor would be the inability of such companies to execute the most basic and core processes effortlessly. Examples of such core processes, say, for a bank, would be opening a customer account or disbursing a loan. When any bank or financial institution falters in execution of such basic core processes, it is doomed to fail.

Why do companies stumble when they execute core processes? Most likely, these companies do not have a robust operating model that is supported by agile IT.

Research scientists Jeanne Ross, Peter Weill and David Robertson have studied more than 200 companies on this topic. The findings from this study are laid out in this 220-page book, titled Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution.

The authors begin by describing the importance of getting the basics right, which they define as “building the foundation for execution.” The authors then stress the importance of the operating model to lay the foundation for execution. There is no single standard operating model, and the operating model should be based on the company’s desire for the degree of standardization and integration of the process. This is dependent upon the type of business, industry and preferences of management.

The authors then discuss enterprise architecture to support the operating model. The enterprise architecture varies for different operating models.

The enterprise architecture cannot mature in 1 day—it moves through the maturity journey. At each stage of the journey, different processes are initiated by the organization. Each stage requires a different level of investment and offers various benefits and returns.

The authors then describe different engagement models that need to be in place to bring the architecture to life. Here, the topic of IT governance is described in relation to the enterprise architecture and engagement model.

Though enterprise architecture is considered an important driver for adding IT value to the organization, the architecture has never been so lucidly connected to IT and business strategy. Real-life examples, facts, figures and interesting anecdotes make this book a must-read for upper management.

Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution is available from the ISACA Bookstore. For information, visit the ISACA Bookstore online or email bookstore@isaca.org.

Upesh Parekh, CISA, is a risk and governance professional with more than 10 years of experience in the banking and finance industry. He is based in Pune, India.