13 Responses

  1. Colin Wheeler
    Colin Wheeler August 29, 2009 at 1:28 pm | | Reply

    I guess from my point of view we had an interesting discussion on one of my courses last month. The question was: When do we need enterprise architecture?
    First we asked: What is an enterprise? We decided that in the spirit of the OED, we would agree that an enterprise was one or more individuals with a common set of goals.
    Second we asked: When do we need architecture? That lead us to look at the building industry and guess that architecture is not needed for grass huts, but as soon as you created bricks and modularised building, then you need architecture.
    The answer then came to us that enterprise architecture is needed in any enterprise that can see its business in terms of modules or components and architect those.
    The next question was of course if SMBs, etc should be doing architecture. The answer to that was very simple…If there is a business value in doing architecture, then they should be doing it.
    We must remember that enterprise architecture can be done in VERY lightweight methods that can deliver significant value to any enterprise.

  2. sofakingbest
    sofakingbest August 31, 2009 at 3:05 pm | | Reply

    Too much “geek speak”. SMBs only want to know if EA can also make coffee, and what is the annual cost.

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    Twitted by kdierc September 1, 2009 at 8:38 am |

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  4. Enterprise architecture is for entrepreneurs, too | Service-Oriented Architecture | ZDNet.com

    […] Mike Kavis asks an intriguing question: “Is enterprise architecture only for big companies?” […]

  5. Peter Evans-Greenwood
    Peter Evans-Greenwood September 8, 2009 at 3:35 am | | Reply


    EA, as it is currently practiced in TOGAF et al, has no place in SMB. It’s just too expensive. With your average EA team running $1m+ in just salaries, most SMB companies just won’t be able to find the money.

    That said, there is definitely growing demand in SMB for smart and agile approach to IT strategy. It just won’t look like traditional EA, once we sort out how to service that demand.



  6. Tushar Wagh
    Tushar Wagh September 16, 2009 at 11:55 pm | | Reply

    Customizing EA for usage is the way to go. I feel a one page mindmap mapping business functions, business applications / entities and technology components is a good way to start.
    Important is to know what you have and how does it maps to your business goals.

  7. Thomas Mannmeusel
    Thomas Mannmeusel December 30, 2009 at 4:47 pm | | Reply

    I am joining quite late into the discussion. Having worked as both EA and CIO in SMBs, I believe it is worth identifying a scenario under which EAM does NOT make sense as this allows to view the issue from a different angle. How about this one:

    Enterprise Architecture is IRRELEVANT for You, if
    1. You have proof that your existing IT setup supports your business in a efficient, effective and secure manner
    2. AND your business is not going to change in the next 3-5 years to come.
    3. AND the environment (customers, suppliers, competitors, regulatory environment) you are operating in is not going to change in the next 3-5 years.

    If your company is NOT a company as described above, you better work on your EA.
    Do you need frameworks, tools, consultants? In my experience: Absolutely not, unless you are overwhelmed by sheer complexity and size of your IT setup. This is typically not the case in SMBs. You need to be able to think in an abstract manner to some extent, bring some structure into unstructured information and be able to connect required business capabilities with technical capabilities.

    best regards from Munich, Germany


  8. Ragu
    Ragu February 11, 2010 at 2:54 pm | | Reply

    Great Debate!
    I always wonder how EA can fit in a SMB world. The way I see it, Any business in the current economic world will clearly have 2 component in their business vision. 1. How to grow the business? 2. How to grow the business with limited Expense exposure!

    Bingo! The above two main arteries are the fundamental lifeline for EA. EA simply allows the CapEx to be well utilized and provide a roadmap for the business growth!
    If the SMB wishes to be a mom/pop shop then EA may be an overkill. But then in this day and age, Mom/Pop survival may be in question due to global competition

  9. MichaelP
    MichaelP April 28, 2010 at 1:13 pm | | Reply

    Joining very late in the discussion….

    Let us not be silly: grass huts are everybit as architected as sky scrapers. However their diminuative size allows the architecture to be passed down from father to son, retained within a single brain. Witness the igloo.

    But in business, you risk a great deal if you assume that size = simplicity. Any you probably don’t have a mentor to teach you how to do it right.

    Another anology: a dental bridge is small, and relatively simple. Yet it requires no less architecture than the bridge across a river. But we have patented models for dental bridges. We use them even if the material expense is higer than it should be – because the material is still relatively cheap. Many small businesses operate on this model. Overbuild today. Pay twice for each innovation because speed is a more important variable than cost. Grow fast, then clean up the mess later when you have a cash flow that supports you while you engineer a better way.

    One last analogy. You can “custom build” an addition to your house without an architect – and you can do it safely. It may take longer and cost you more, but you can do it. You can do it many times to the same home until you hit the property line. At that point your only option is up. You could probably do this for a storey or two without an architect. But eventually, you will need to enlist an architect if you want to grow. Now you must tear down what’s there, rebuild the foundation, and follow the blueprints. This is far more expensive than hiring an architect in the beginning, but you didn’t know if you would ever grow into a sky scraper and the cost of a sky scraper foundation would have sunk you in the beginning.

    What is needed is a set of architectures for small businesses analogous to the grass hut architecture and the dental bridge architecture. Small, lightweight, pre tested, and free. All they need then is implementers. Eventually they will grow to need architects.

  10. Ben pole
    Ben pole March 9, 2011 at 5:52 am | | Reply

    Valuable thoughts and advices. Smaller companies just can’t afford or need to do all the steps and use all the resources. Important is to know what you have and how does it maps to your business goals. Thanks!

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