Enterprise Architecture as foundation for Electronic

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)



Text of Enterprise Architecture as foundation for Electronic

  • 1. Enterprise Architecture as foundation for Electronic Business Victor E. van Reijswoud Devote Institute of Technology Devote n.v. P.O. Box 73 3980 CB Bunnik, The Netherlands vreijswoud@devote.nl Abstract Many organisations feel the pressure to adopt technological innovations in order to keep or to develop a competitive advantage. In many cases however, they fail to align the new technology with the business objectives. With the hype of E-services, this is especially the case. In this paper the Enterprise Architecture Model is presented as a means to get an integral view on an organisation by focusing on the mission/strategy, processes, information and ICT infrastructure, organisational structure and culture. The Enterprise Architecture Model is illustrated by means of an example of a mail order company that considers the implementation of E-services. 1 Introduction The emergence of the Internet has opened up new business channels and new business possibilities. At this moment, Electronic Services (E-Commerce, E-Business or E advertising) seems to have the most potential to take full advantage of the possibilities of this medium. Maira and Taylor (1999) do not only predict impressive savings that can be achieved by using e-business, they also predict a major impact on the way in which companies structure their business-to-business and business-to-consumer relationships, and the underlying set of business processes structures. By adopting E- services, companies may develop totally new core competencies, process and support structures. In order to be able to maximise the potential of the Internet, the building of a web site alone no longer sufficient, a reconsideration and alignment of all the aspects of the business is needed. The recognition of the potential benefits of E-services, the uncertainty on how to achieve these benefits and the necessary organisational restructuring that is required to achieve these benefits is for many organisations an important reason to postpone E- services projects. The management of the organisation often does not have the overview that is needed to decide to start or to continue a project. An architectural description that includes business and IT aspects and that is able to expand on the consequences of change and innovation, proves to be a powerful managerial instrument. This paper proposes the Enterprise Architecture model. The model provides an overview of the architecture of an organisation, it allows to describe alternatives and
  • 2. relates it to the environment of the organisation. In section 2 the Enterprise Architecture model is described. In section 3, an understanding of E-services is provided. In section 4 the two sections are combined and illustrated by means of a case study of a mail order company using the Enterprise Architecture model when considering the introduction of E-services in their organisation. Finally, in section 5 some conclusions are drawn. 2 A framework for Enterprise Architecture Organisations are complex structures. The Enterprise Architecture model provides a way to reduce the complexity and to analyse distinct aspects of the organisation as well as the mutual relationships between these aspects. The Enterprise Architecture model that is proposed here is in use by the Dutch company Devote to discuss with their customers innovation in general, and the potentials and the consequences of E- business in particular. The Enterprise Architecture model is founded in the communication based business paradigm as proposed by Medina-Mora et al. (1992) and Dietz (1996). The basis of the model is formed by idea that the activities in an organisation can be divided into business activities, informational activities and material/documental activities. The business core of the organisation is formed by people that use interaction as the means to establish business commitments. For a further discussion of the underlying communication principle, the reader is referred to (Reijswoud, et al., 1999; Dietz, 1996; Reijswoud, 1996; Winograd & Flores, 1986). Informational activities support the business processes and material/documental activities realise the business activities. The Enterprise Architecture model provides an extension on the basic communication based business paradigm as proposed by Medina-Mora and Dietz. The model is composed of four interrelated aspect layers and a background providing layer. The top layer describes the reason for existence of the organisation. This layer is added because the business process structure of an organisation cannot be understood without understanding the context and the goal of the organisation (Zachman, 1996; McDavid, 1999). The layer contains a behavioural description of the definition of the organisation as described by the mission and the strategy to reach this mission. This top layer provides a point of reference for the activities in the underlying level. The business architecture layer contains a description of business processes in the organisation. The business architecture provides an operationalisation of the mission and strategy layer. On the basis of the expected behaviour, as described in the mission and strategy layer, the construction of the business processes is laid out. On its turn, the business architecture provides the behavioural constraints for the information architecture. Founded in the business architecture, the information architecture extends the business processes with a necessary information infrastructure. In other words, it provides a detailed description of the information that is needed to execute the business processes. At the lowest level, the ICT infrastructure, which also includes software architectures, and the organisational structure are described. This level provides the tools with which the levels above are realised. This description may contain machines, applications and application structures, workflow procedures, but also people in organisational functions. 2
  • 3. The four layers are embedded in a layer that describes the culture of the organisation. The culture can be considered to be the glue between the other layers of the Enterprise Architecture model. Whereas the other layers are founded in formal action oriented communication in the organisation, culture is created by informal precondition creating communication between the elements in the organisation. For more details on the distinction between different types of communication in organisations, see Reijswoud (1996). In figure 1 below the Enterprise Architecture Model is illustrated graphically. Mission and Strategy Business Architecture Information Architecture ICT and Organisational Architecture culture Figure 1: The Enterprise Architecture Model In line with the guidelines for postulating information architectures (Land et al, 1999), an architectural description of an organisation addresses three different aspects: models, constraints and decisions. Models describe the current state of affairs of the organisation. In other words, what is done when and how? The models describe the structure of the organisation at each level of the Enterprise model. A precondition for the models is that they facilitate manipulations to create an optimised situation. This presumes that the models have some kind of formalised basis. The architecture models also need to be as stable as possible, so that they can serve as a basis for multiple decisions. Constraints describe internal or external elements that restrict changes to the organisation. These constraints can be uncontrollable for the organisation like for example laws, economic principles, technical standards, or ethical and cultural norms, but the constraints may also be within the change potential of the organisation. The last constraints mostly originate from inside the organisation. The proposed architecture has to obey these internal and external constraints. The last aspect of an architectural description is formed by the decisions that organisations take about the direction of the organisation and therewith the architecture they chose. In an architectural description of Enterprise Architecture, the three aspects are combined with the different layers of the Enterprise model. This means that each of the layers is described according to these guidelines. Table 1 below describes the result of the cross-correlation of the enterprise layers and the architectural aspects. The cells contain examples, and the list is not exhaustive. 3
  • 4. Models Constraints Decisions Mission/strategy Strategic business Trading laws, macro Improved competitive models, e.g. Balanced economy, core position, changed

View more >