What is Strategic Architecture?

Strategic Architecture is a high level enterprise architecture view of a Strategic ICT opportunity that aligns with the organisation's strategic vision and can be understood by senior ICT and business leaders. By undertaking strategic architecture in this way the Enterprise Architect becomes vitally important for the whole organisation and not just the ICT division. In this video, Nigel Schmalkuche, Managing Director of Strategic Architects explains how to develop strategic architecture.

Strategic Architecture is critical for every organisation as it brings together a high level view of an ICT opportunity that can be clearly understood by business and ICT. Strategic Architecture fits within the discipline of Enterprise Architecture and effectively aligns Business and ICT by examining what capabilities are required so they can be on the one page strategically.

What is Enterprise Architecture?

What is Enterprise Architecture?

In a traditional view of Enterprise Architecture there are Business, Information, Applications and Technology Architecture domains and you can include Security, Risk and Integration across these architecture domains. Strategic Architecture sits above these domains and it is vital that the Strategic Architecture is completed first before other architecture domains and referenced to guide all future work. 

In the digital age there are many influences that the Enterprise Architect can provide strategic leadership on including the Internet of Things, Big Data, Cloud and the Digital Workplace that includes Mobility, Collaboration, Unified Communications, Desktop as a Service, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. It is the responsibility of the Enterprise Architect to stay abreast of the latest emerging trends and present a strategic architecture view on how these opportunities can benefit the organisation strategically. 

It is important that Strategic Architecture is completed before the development of architecture, designs and solutions. The strategic view provided by the development of strategic architecture can be tailored effectively so Senior ICT and business managers reach a high level of understanding where they are able to endorse and approve.

It is an important step for an Enterprise Architect to move from purely technical and solution architecture to one where they have an important role to play in decision-making in the organisation through Strategic Architecture. 

What does Strategic Architecture include?

What is Strategic Architecture?

It is important to work with senior ICT and Business leaders on the vision and purpose of the Strategic Architecture document being prepared. For instance, if we were working on a Cloud Strategic Architecture it would need to be defined first in the vision and purpose that it is Cloud First with qualifications (best value) or Cloud Only.

Business capabilities are then determined for the strategic architecture being developed for instance Agility would be required to deliver rapid solutions for the changing customers' needs for a Cloud Strategy. Business Capabilities are vital for any strategic architecture document as it resonates with the business area and can be overlayed with Technology Capabilities to also resonate with ICT professionals. Capability Driven Architectures are more likely to be successful as they seek out what is really required.

Principles are applicable to the topic for instance with Business Intelligence a principle could state that data is to be stored once in single sources of truth repositories for whole of organisation use.

Directions can be specific to the organisation say for example with a Cloud Strategic Architecture there could be a direction that Software as a Service is the top priority but if the application doesn't meet certain criteria Platform as a Service is  considered then Infrastructure as a Service is considered as possible options.

The next section list the Current Achievements, Problems and Future Tasks. It is important to list current achievements as the executive needs to know what steps have already been made. Clearly identifying the problem though is essential and it is useful to broadly identify future tasks before outlining them across a timescale on a roadmap with identified benefits and outcomes.

Identifying the steps for implementation is provided with an adoption framework. For instance, with a Business Intelligence Adoption Framework the steps would range from the initial planning of tasks, establishing a team, assigning information owners and other roles, data quality management, procuring and rationalising technologies right through to the inclusion of predictive information for high level decision-making for the organisation.

It can be useful to show a Strategic Alignment page that illustrates alignment of the opportunity's vision and principles (specified in the front page of the strategic architecture) with the organisation strategy and ICT strategy.

Strategic Architecture is an important component to Enterprise Architecture and ensures that Enterprise Architecture delivers the alignment between ICT and business by influencing senior managers in the organisation.