5 things you need to know from FORRESTER before choosing your EA tool

After a deep research and analysis among its 40-criteria evaluation of Enterprise Architecture Management Suite providers, Forrester answered some important questions, helping Enterprise Architects make the right choice for their business outcome.

At BOC Group, we know how important it is to take strategic decisions related to your business. Research and analysis are essential, in order to understand the needs of your company and the requirements you are looking for in a partner or a specific service.


When it comes to Enterprise Architecture, expectations on business-outcome get higher and learning more about every single aspect becomes essential. This is the reason why - after been named a Leader in the Forrester Wave of Enterprise Architecture Management Suites with our product ADOIT - we decided to ask some important questions to Gordon Barnett, Principal Analyst at Forrester and author of the Wave report, to deep dive into their vision of digital experience strategies, EA scope and much more. The result has been an exclusive and interesting interview related to the EA market, its opportunities and its most important aspects.



Q: Gordon, in your report "The Forrester WaveTM, EA Management Suites, Q2 2017", you mention that digital experience strategies are a driver of broader EA interactions. What are the key deliverables that buyers should be looking for from a tool, to successfully support this move to a customer centric digital-experience-driven EA?


G.B: As organizations seek to become customer-obsessed and to transform into primarily digital businesses, enterprise architects (EAs) need to acquire new competencies. These competencies include understanding personas, customer journeys, business services, business platforms, value streams, transfer of value, APIs and microservices, and strategy translation. Currently, EA pros and their business peers do not have the tools to enable them to model and assess the architecture that supports an organization's interaction with its customers. The deliverables that a tool provider could provide EAs are templates to capture persona, customer journey and strategy definitions. In addition, tools could provide relationship diagrams that show the relationships between strategic goal, persona, interaction, service, API/microservice, business activity and business capability. Finally, architectural roadmaps (not project roadmaps) that clearly show the current state, end state and the transition from one to the other.



Q: In the Wave you mention a recent shift in EA scope, from technology landscaping towards a more holistic IT asset management approach, focused on delivering operationally on the strategy. What should buyers be looking out for when evaluating tools, to be up to the challenge of delivering business outcomes?


G.B:  Strategy translation has become a very key competency for EAs. As such when looking at tools, buyers will consider how EAs can capture their business’ strategic intent, i.e. capture business challenges, the focus of business action (Ansoff matrix, Treacy model), the specific business action and the expected outcome. With this information, EAs can look at the underlying business actions and ask what the architectural challenges are (people, process, data, technology asset) in enabling this business action. The EAs can then specify the architecture focus (e.g. capability development, technology development) and the specific action (move X to a platform architecture and deliver service Y through an API/microservice). These actions can then be aligned to strategic objectives. This ensures that architecture is looked at more holistically, and not just through a technology lens. In addition, this assumes that the tool provides a mechanism to gain insights on the performance of the current state.



Q: Knowing that delivering on specific goals with clearly stated business value is key for EA professionals, how much focus and effort should be spent on IT portfolio management across all enterprise layers, as a basis for effective decision making, vs. focusing on exploring and architecting the direct dependencies and immediate scopes (related to delivering on the particular strategic goals at hand) ?


G.B: The focus of many EAs in organizations undertaking a digital transformation is on providing business agility. An architecture that can support a change in strategic direction efficiently is the holy grail. It is therefore essential that EAs are embedded within the IT portfolio management process of the firm, though they may not control or own the process. EAs should be able to provide the business case for change in the technology footprint, whether this be moving to a best of breed COTS environment, a platform architecture, an AI-based environment, a cloud architecture or a hybrid of these. EAs need to have full visibility of the relationships between the physical, logical and conceptual layers of the architecture, however, large parts of this information will be provided by subject matter experts outside of EA. Forrester EA clients work in one of two modes when their firm is looking for agility. In mode 1, EA focuses on the big picture, i.e. the strategy. The EA team focuses on articulating the end state in terms of strategic objectives, business and architectural products and architectural constraints (principles, standards, performance criteria), they are less focused on design and solutions, these disciplines are left to the design teams as part of the scrum teams. The EA team directs the delivery teams. In this mode the EA team focuses on the destination, not the journey. The focus is end to end. In mode 2, the EA team works within agile teams and are essentially designers, order takers, and software product owners. The focus is short-term and minimum viable architecture to increase time to market of the software products. Evidence suggests that in mode 2 firms maintain functional architectures and have greater difficulty re-architecting or re-platforming their technology assets.



Q: Delivering EA results with clearly stated business outcomes seems to be key. 
In your opinion, how well are tool vendors supporting the EA teams in measuring the impact of these outcomes and how does real-time monitoring of these data play a role in this?


GB: The whole topic of EA value is currently poorly supported by the EA vendors. Forrester has found that its EA clients look at several categories of measuring EA performance. In terms of business outcomes, for example digital transformation, one typical measure used by EAs is the ratio of digital products and services to total products and services. A growing trend would reflect the ability of the architecture to support the business’ digital transformation. In terms of customer experience, the reporting on effectiveness, ease and emotion are not captured by EA tools. Very few EAMS tools capture architectural decisions and track these against strategic objectives. In agile environments, the technology footprint is changing at a rapid rate and it is therefore essential for EAs to have real-time or near real-time information on the current architectural footprint so that corrective action can be taken if the impact is negative. These factors severely constrain EAs ability to demonstrate value.


A growing trend for EA teams is to provide a platform whereby additional information is presented in real-time or near real-time to operational and business leaders. This information will complement current information that operational and business leaders have and assist them in their ability to react to adverse events and failed strategies. An example would be the presentation of current and predicted objectives – i.e. customer satisfaction, revenue, cost and channel utilization. Very few EA vendors have addressed this latter EA as their focus is on EA teams, rather than EA stakeholders. Addressing the needs of non-EA team members and delivering value to them would give an EA vendor a competitive advantage position.


Q5: In the report's Current Offering section, you gave the highest weight to Engagement with stakeholders (45%). What factors do you see as key for buyers to look out for, when thinking about enabling non-EA stakeholders to engage and contribute?


GB: As firms adopt more agile ways of working, EAs no longer work in a vacuum, they must work with their technology, process, data and business peers. Therefore key factors that buyers are looking for are: 1) Visualization of architectural information over architectural drawings, 2) Transparency of architectural decisions – what decision was made, by who, rationale, assumptions, what else was considered, who was involved, 3) Information capture to ensure consistency of data in easy to understand format – freehand drawing, support of model templates 4) Collaboration environment where options can be considered, reviewed, challenged, changes accepted or rejected 5) Reporting of strategic performance.


We are glad of this interaction between BOC Group and Forrester, because since the beginning our intention has been and will always be, to produce more and better and give you the finest tools for making the perfect Business decision when it comes to deliver your Business outcomes.

If you are still looking for an EA tool that matches all of your needs, find out more about our EA Suite ADOIT.


We can´t wait to help you in achieving your business goals!