Did You Accidently Outsource Your Enterprise Architecture?

I’ve referenced Enterprise Architecture several times in this blog, and see it (or lack thereof!) as a common “sticking point” (see, for Example, Enterprise Architecture and Level 2 Sticking Point) as it’s one of those things that does not naturally “grow” out of less mature practices (IT Architecture, for example) but takes a different twist (bottom up to top down, and inside-out to outside-in, for example).

I’ve found myself in conversations with a couple of clients this year who struggled particularly hard to grasp what I meant.  I then discovered that when they had shifted to SAP as their major Enterprise Software package, they had essentially said, “Whew!  Now we are going to SAP, we can just adopt their IT architecture and stop messing with all that stuff!”  Essentially, they had “outsourced” their IT Architecture, which had the unfortunate side-effect of masking them from the distinctions between Enterprise and IT Architecture, such they had therefore essentially outsourced their Enterprise Architecture. 

I am describing a couple of extreme cases I came across this year, but in reality, I think this phenomenon is not uncommon.  I’m all for outsourcing selectively, but it is essential to take care not to accidentally outsource important management disciplines along the way!  To push my frequent analogy of “crawl, walk, run” a little too far, it’s as if the crawling baby, about to make her first tentative walking steps, is intercepted by a parent with a push chair who says, “Baby, you don’t need to walk – let mummy push you wherever you need to go.  One day, you’d be able to run everywhere, and be pleased that you saved your feet!”

Let me take this opportunity to wish my readers Happy Holidays, and a Healthy, Prosperous 2008!

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