What is Enterprise Architecture and Which Capabilities Does an Organization Need?

The purpose of Enterprise Architecture is to provide concepts and frameworks that guide architects to simplify and illustrate the IT landscape of organizations to increase overall transparency, alignment, governance, and enable harmonization efforts. In order to achieve this, enterprise architecture needs to consider the full IT landscape across applications, data, technologies, and infrastructures and also business elements, such as business processes and business capabilities. The requests that enterprise architecture may receive from the organization can be very different, including the development of an IT demand management process on one day, and the identification of necessary data to enable a particular process on the other day. It is only natural that enterprise architecture therefore needs a broad spectrum of capabilities to be able to provide such different services. In the following, I provide an overview of the capabilities that an established and well-working enterprise architecture organization needs.


1. Strategic EA Capabilities

This category of capabilities defines the position of EA within the organization and its high level positioning and direction. Its major objective is to translate business demand into IT language, to provide the foundation to further detail out the overall architectural direction, and to plan the way forward for IT. The following eight capabilities are part of this category:

  • Business-IT alignment

  • EA strategic planning

  • EA principles management

  • EA layers management

  • Integration architecture management

  • EA roadmap management

  • Business capabilities management

  • Organisational data and information strategy


2. Operative EA Capabilities

This category of capabilities enables the operational implementation, operationalization, and governance of EA in and across every business domain of the organization, such as its business processes, applications, technology, and data. Furthermore, effective operative EA capabilities deliver an operating model and develop independent microservices that the organization can reuse within different departments, entities, or countries. The following eight capabilities are part of this category:

  • EA governance

  • EA operating model

  • Business process management

  • Software assets management (incl. licenses)

  • Applications management

  • Technology management

  • Data management

  • Microservices Management


3. Supporting EA Capabilities

The category of supporting EA capabilities enables EA to involve the right people across departments and hierarchy levels and to provide the right messages that convince the right  stakeholders from its benefits. Furthermore, they helps to lever the architectural findings and outcomes through the right EA tool and sharing platform (e.g. EA Wiki). Lastly, they secure that the enterprise architecture function can be successful by enabling a proper EA risk and compliance management. The following four capabilities are part of this category:

  • EA communication and involvement

  • Knowledge sharing, training, and content leverage

  • EA tooling

  • Risk and compliance management


Enterprise architecture only works, if the right balance across these capabilities is ensured. In one of my next posts, I will take a deeper look into the different categories.