Enterprise architecture assessment: A critical task for IT managers

Making the time to assess your overall IT architecture can be a real benefit to your company. Expert Jane Carbone explains the importance of conducting a proper IT architecture assessment, and sheds some light on its value.

Jane Carbone
As an IT manager, you can get so caught up with the day-to-day tasks and problems of your IT architecture that it is easy to put off doing an assessment of your organization's overall architecture.

The need to do an architecture assessment in 2007 is really critical especially if you're planning on doing a Windows Vista upgrade this year or next. Taking stock of what's what in your architecture prior to beginning any major software or hardware upgrade isn't just smart – it is a necessity.

For sure, an architecture assessment is a big task and can be quite daunting-- but remember this! Doing such an assessment will benefit your organization in the long run.

More on IT architecture assessment

Part 1: A critical task for IT managers

Part 2: What's your motivation?

Part 3: Methods for conducting an architecture assessment
What is it?

An enterprise architecture is the set of plans that describes how all parts of the IT infrastructure need to behave or currently behave in support of the organization's needs and goals. It includes an evaluation of all the data, the functions, the technology and the people that constitute the infrastructure.

An architecture assessment is the process of collecting and analyzing data about the current state of an enterprise architecture, drawing conclusions about how well it supports the enterprise, and reporting the results.

What is the value?

Undertaking an IT architecture assessment is valuable in many ways:

  • It helps to clarify how the current architecture contributes to perceived business problems or how it positively supports an organization's goals. An assessment looks at both what is working and what is not.
  • It allows for a fact-based understanding of the costs and benefits of the current IT infrastructure to the organization. This is valuable even if you don't need to make changes; you'll have the facts to support your methodology for your current architecture.
  • Because problems with the current infrastructure come to light, an assessment helps identify where re-architecting can reduce business costs, improve business functionality or processes and improve IT efficiency (e.g., reduce IT costs, eliminate duplication).
  • The bottom line is that an assessment often provides the business case data and the impetus to fund an organization's re-architecture since an assessment provides a relatively objective look at what needs to be kept or changed and why.

    I'll write more about what is required to undertake and assessment and, most importantly, how to sell your re-architecture plans to upper management.

    Read part two, Enterprise architecture assessment: What's your motivation?

    Jane Carbone is a partner in infomajic, llc. She has 25+ years experience in information technology. Jane developed and has used the infomajic enterprise architecture methodology to conduct architecture assessments, develop enterprise and data architectures, organization designs and implementation plans and programs with clients in banking and financial services, telecomm, and government and IT HR firms. Her articles have been published in DM Direct and the TDAN newsletters and on EACommunity. Her book The IT Architecture Toolkit is available through Prentice-Hall.

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