What Is Enterprise Architecture Planning?

Malcolm Tatum

Enterprise architecture planning is a business strategy that aids in identifying the processes or architectures that ultimately support the operation of a business and move the company closer to achieving its stated goals. Once identified, the strategy further helps to arrange these architectures into a cohesive and logical sequence that aids in the overall process of effective business planning. Inherent to the function of enterprise architecture planning is making the best use of information that is available, both in terms of historical and current data that helps to point the way to the future.

Enterprise architecture planning uses historical and current data to help point the way to the future.
Enterprise architecture planning uses historical and current data to help point the way to the future.

The actual phases, or cycles, that are part of the basic enterprise architecture planning or EAP effort can be segregated into four basic sections, or layers. The first has to do with the phase of beginning the effort. During this phase, data is collected and organized in some manner, with the goal of being able to qualify and use that data to establish basic structure for the activity and determine what tools or resources will be necessary. It is during this phase that foundational decisions are made that have an impact on all the future planning and implementation associated with the project.

A second phase, or layer, of enterprise architecture planning has to do with evaluating the current status of the business and how that relates to the proposed project. Since historical data has already been collected and organized, the task of understanding not only the current situation but how that situation came to pass is relatively easy. This evaluation of the here and now also helps to form the basis for all future activities connected with the project.

Setting the goal or goals for the project is often considered the third phase of enterprise architecture planning. Here, the task is to identify the desired end result of the project, using the current situation as the starting point. Since all data related to resources and tools, including business information systems, labor force, and even equipment and software programs were addressed earlier, the formation of responsible and reachable goals is generally not a difficult task.

The fourth layer, or phase, of enterprise architectural planning is the development of a road map to move forward from present circumstances on to the identified goals. It is during this phase that specifics of how to make that movement are formulated. Assignments are made, check and balance systems implemented, and scheduling for the completion of essential tasks is developed. Every aspect, including cost, is addressed and accounted for during this phase. Assuming that each of these phases has been successfully executed, the end result will be a clear understanding of where the effort is starting, what is to be accomplished, and how to make systematic and logical steps toward those stated goals.

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