Who should ‘own’ the Enterprise Architecture?
By Michael Glas on May 30, 2012
In the article Jeanne states that companies need to acknowledge that "architecture says everything about how the company is going to function, operate, and grow; the only person who can own that is the CEO". "If the CEO doesn't accept that role, there really can be no architecture."
The first question that came up when talking about ownership was whether you are talking about a person, role, or organization (there are pros and cons to each, but in general, I like to assign accountability to as few people as possible). After much thought and discussion, I came to the conclusion that we were answering the wrong question. Instead of talking about ownership we were talking about responsibility and accountability, and the answer varies depending on the particular role of the organization’s Enterprise Architecture and the activities of the enterprise architect(s).
Instead of looking at just who owns the architecture, think about what the person/role/organization should do. This is one possible scenario (thanks to Bob Covington):
- The CEO should own the Enterprise Strategy which guides the business architecture.
- The Business units should own the business processes and information which guide the business, application and information architectures.
- The CIO should own the technology, IT Governance and the management of the application and information architectures/implementations.
- The EA Governance Team owns the EA process. If EA is done well, the governance team consists of both IT and the business.
While there are many more roles and responsibilities than listed here, it starts to provide a clearer understanding of ‘ownership’. Now back to Jeanne’s statement that the CEO should own the architecture. If you agree with the statement about what the architecture is (and I do agree), then ultimately the CEO does need to own it.
However, what we ended up with was not really ownership, but more statements around roles and responsibilities tied to aspects of the enterprise architecture. You can debate the semantics of ownership vs. responsibility and accountability, but in the end the important thing is to come to a clearer understanding that is easily communicated (and hopefully measured) around the question “Who owns the Enterprise Architecture”.
The next logical step . . . create a RACI matrix that details the findings . . . but that is a step that each organization needs to do on their own as it will vary based on current EA maturity, company culture, and a variety of other factors.
Who ‘owns’ the Enterprise Architecture in your organization?
1 CIO Magazine Article (Busting CIO Myths): http://www.cio.com/article/704943/Busting_CIO_Myths