Opening Thoughts: EA/ITG Maturity and the Importance of Next Steps
Almost every EA/ITG "frequently asked question" compilation includes a FAQ asking how to measure EA/ITG maturity. The answers invariably include a maturity scale, a set of qualifications and perhaps some average benchmark data. Armed with this basic information about measuring maturity, should every organization immediately complete an assessment? The answer is: not necessarily.
There are many underlying reasons why organizations seek to quantify maturity. One reason is to compare against other peer organizations and industry averages. Experience suggests that worshiping at the "false altar of industry norms", while perhaps satisfying, yields little value beyond the simplest conclusions drawn from the coarsest metric categories. Organizations have inherent differences in business models, scale, history, investment levels and culture, even within a single industry. Industry comparison, i.e. benchmarking, alone should never be a reason to pursue an assessment.
The more common reason for a maturity assessment is to demonstrate to a boss or sponsor that the EA/ITG group is performing and/or improving. This is particularly important where there is a mandate to report maturity status, a requirement often imposed on large, complex federated organizations. The U.S. Federal Government’s OMB EA assessment is a shining example. Maturity indicators are a valuable tool to drive consistency, to raise the visibility of EA/ITG to management and—most importantly—to help the EA/ITG program manager improve his or her program. That is the true value of a maturity assessment. A thorough assessment, and thoughtful analysis, gives valuable clues to identify "what to do next".
Of the several dozen assessments available in the public domain and from proprietary sources, the best share one common methodological foundation: assessment questions. A skilled assessor cares little about the actual scores and focuses instead on using the questions and answers to identify two critical sets of findings: 1) the inhibitors to maturity improvement that must be overcome, and 2) momentum, identified as strengths available to use as leverage to accelerate maturity. From these, the EA/ITG program manager can execute "remedies" as critical next steps for program development.
This issue of A&G includes articles that describe many such remedies, including practical approaches and suggestions to improve the maturity of EA/ITG programs. In Value Architectures - Time for a New EA Culture, Mike Edwards discusses ways to accelerate business acceptance of EA using an evolutionary approach appropriate for pragmatic organizations. New Ways to Get Value from Your EA Program offers suggestions on enhancing the EA value equation by engaging stakeholders beyond the traditional, first order consumers of EA content. In the feature article for this issue, Jonas Lamis shows examples of some of the best and worst graphical techniques from the past and present. In The Big Picture and the Challenge of Visual Modeling, he suggests techniques to improve EA/ITG communication through effective visual modeling.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to EA and ITG success. Each organization must execute best practice remedies which are tuned to its unique needs. EA/ITG program managers should consider using maturity assessment approaches and findings to help them chart their course and decide "what to do next".
by George Paras, Editor, Architecture & Governance Magazine