Posted by: Adam Deane | 22/11/2011

EA and BPM – Shock and Awe

Shock and OreWatching the news, we see the differences between the civilized democracies on one side and the barbarians on the other.

Those cruel regimes..
The cruelty, the brutality, the inhumane treatment, the tragedy.
The way they treat their people…

Over there, techies and programmers that reach a certain age are outcasted, chucked away, fired, strung up in the street.
Oh.. the horror..

Such a contrast to the noble and virtuous companies in the civilized part of our world.
Here we do not consign to oblivion our old technical staff.
Here we turn them into Enterprise Architects. It’s the humane thing to do.

It enables them to slowly fade away without hurting their feelings.
Putting them out to pasture, letting them spend their last years planning scenarios, thinking of new frameworks and standards that no one will ever use.
It doesn’t hurt anyone and it keeps them busy. Bless them…

I’m joking of course…

Enterprise Architects are constantly being criticized.
They constantly need to demonstrate the business value that EA efforts provide.

The latest criticism comes from Vivek Kundra, the former CIO of the United States

Everybody has lost their way in enterprise architecture, Kundra said, especially enterprise architects. “They focus on documenting the current state or what the future state should be. By the time they are done with their architectural artifact, a new technology has already killed whatever they are working on,” he said.

Although Enterprise Architects are part of our neighbourhood, finding the way to get them to embrace BPM is not easy.
Most of them know about, heard about, talked about, even recognise the value of BPM, but they don’t actually want to touch it.
BPM is seen by most of them as outside their territory.

The frustration is understandable. Gartner has told EAs to embrace BPM, Forrester has told EAs to embrace BPM, even their own CEOs and CIOs have told the EAs to embrace BPM… sure, excellent, absolutely.. maybe tomorrow

I’ve found the process and KPI dashboards to be the best way into their hearts.
It’s pretty, it provides visibility, it visualizes EA concepts, it enables the EA to get excited “this is what I’ve been talking about all the time”

Enterprise Architects are required to provide management with investment plan scenarios and recommendations.
Simulation, frameworks and standards, modeling, decision analysis, repository and metamodeling are all important, but the architect and EA team are not the decision makers in the organisation.
Transforming high level analysis and scenario planning into real-life running business processes enables to demonstrate the business value that EA efforts provide.

BPM makes it come to life.


  1. In my experience, EA and BPM (as well as SOA) are the most powerful combination to address “Transforming high level analysis and scenario planning into real-life running business processes”. Sure, you just need to architect this combination (an example is my book )


  2. Nice thought stream, Adam. EA is invaluable and needs to be progressively approached. There are plenty of reasons and motivations to criticize, so it should be expected and much of it is justified. Things have changed and will continue to change in this arena, (like everything) so someone’s definition of EA can be threatened and lead to discomfiture. Maybe it’s still the land of plenty for some who can afford not to take BPM all that serious. Results always carry the day so bravo with KPIs.

  3. Hmm.
    Always wondered what happend to casewise – about ten years ago it was one of the leaders in the BPM field, and then it went all quiet…

    I utterly reject some of the insinuations by the way – as a practicing EA/SA/BA and an advocate of both BPx and customer centicity, i personally see no gaps.
    EA for me, is about people, process and solutions, in that order.

    So if you are getting pushback from EA’s, perhaps they are EITA’s or glorified business analysts?

  4. Adam,

    Wow–Deja vu. I actually published a doc when I was at Forrester, from a slightly different perspective–a message to BPM folks to get smarter on SOA. I’ve since left, but still seems to be a popular read.

    Perhaps it comes down to the two camps getting to know each other on an individual level, and/or more formally, working together on a blended project team.

  5. Drop Teresa Jones at Gartner a line on this – i’m sure she’d like to like comment?

  6. Enterprise Architecture becomes much more relevant when it includes Business Process Architecture. BPM tools like ARIS have recognised this and are succeeding because they embrace demonstrate the links between strategy, process & data.

    When EA is just for the techies it becomes irrelevant for business users but when it includes processes it opens up a whole new world!

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