2.9 Enterprise Architecture

2.9.1 Introduction

'I think the horizon for any strategy that references technology is about two years at the outside. But if you've got the principles and the architecture in place then you've got a framework for dealing with new things as they come up because you can reference them against that and against the corporate strategy and see if they fit.'

Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a high level, strategic technique designed to help senior managers achieve business and organisational change. It provides an evolving, dynamic way of describing and aligning the functional aspects of an HEI, its people, activities, tools, resources and data/information, so that they work more effectively together to achieve its business goals. Enterprise Architecture also seeks to achieve desired future change through design. It holds that by understanding existing information assets, business processes, organisational structures, information and application infrastructure (the 'as is' state) it is possible to 'do something different', something new and innovative (the 'to be' state).

Enterprise Architecture has been successfully used in the commercial sector for over 15 years and is now developing momentum within HE as an important management instrument in supporting institutions to meet their strategic goals. A critical factor in the successful implementation of Enterprise Architecture is the support and commitment at an institutional level through the senior management team sponsorship and involvement. Without this it is unlikely that such an 'enterprise' wide initiative, that requires the buy-in and involvement of management and staff across the institution, will succeed.

Now consider these key questions:

  • Are senior decision makers prepared to accept changes necessary to contribute to institutional and ICT strategic alignment?
  • What benefits will stakeholders realise from this type of change?
  • What current activities are undertaken to facilitate greater understanding and development of shared services?
  • What hurdles must your institution overcome to enable greater sharing of services and data?