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Using social tools to help enterprise architecture projects succeed

An expert discusses why many enterprise projects are failing and how companies can implement social software to increase efficiency and communication.

How can enterprise architects use social technology software to improve efficiency?

Editor's note: Alexandre Wentzo, chief executive officer at Casewise Ltd., discusses reasons why enterprise architecture projects fail. Enterprise architecture, a blueprint engineered to define the structure and operation of an organization, can streamline business and IT, aid with change process and allow for greater flexibility. In this ATE, Wentzo talks about what steps companies can take to make sure their enterprise architecture projects succeed.

In 2010, Rotterdam University released a shocking statistic: Two-thirds of enterprise architecture projects fail.

Having been in the enterprise architecture (EA) business for more than 10 years, it's easy for me to pinpoint a number of reasons why this is happening:

  • EA teams often work in silos and can find it difficult to implement strategies across multiple business units.
  • Stakeholders can lose interest in EA objectives, quickly returning to old habits, resulting in zero change.
  • Compliance with the principles established by EA teams often goes unmonitored.
  • Feedback and suggestions on EA initiatives are often gathered from only one set of stakeholders (usually the C-suite) rather than across the entire workforce.

In other words, many times the problem is not in the EA's strategy, it's in the communication breakdown that occurs when the plan is implemented and monitored over time.

This is where social technology software can help.

Organizations have already realized that not becoming a social enterprise is detrimental to business -- a sentiment that is echoed by Gartner Inc., which in 2012 stated, "by 2014, refusing to communicate with customers via social channels will be as harmful as ignoring emails or phone calls is today."

Now it's time for enterprise architects to integrate social tools into their workflow. Not only will it improve efficiency, it's also likely to remedy many of the communication problems we face when implementing EA initiatives.

In summary, make sure that your enterprise architecture software includes (at the very least) the following social tools:

User profiles: By requiring user logins, EAs can control who sees what. In addition, profiles can help EA's identify "super contributors" that may become important organizational champions during the lifetime of the project.

Commenting: Gathering detailed feedback in person can be time consuming. Built-in commenting tools are easy to use, capture institutional knowledge and allow a cross-section of the organization to provide feedback at their leisure.

Surveys: A natural extension of commenting, digital surveys are easy for stakeholders to fill out, and they also allow EAs to gather more detailed feedback on the project or key decisions.

Ratings: Five-star ratings are a quick way for stakeholders to approve (or disapprove) an aspect of the strategy. The best tools on the market also aggregate the ratings so that EAs can quickly ascertain an overall sentiment.

Favorites/Bookmarks: By allowing stakeholders to bookmark or pinpoint favorite content, the user experience and trust in the EA initiative is improved.

Always-on communication: Stakeholders losing interest in an EA initiative is a problem that all enterprise architects have faced. A centralized communication platform helps EAs stay connected with stakeholders so that all parties are guaranteed to have up-to-date information on progress and changes.

About the author:
Alexandre Wentzo is CEO of Stamford, Conn.-based Casewise Ltd.

This was first published in February 2014

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