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A New Blueprint For the Enterprise

A New Blueprint For the Enterprise

Bill Godfrey, CIO Of Dow Jones, remembers how his first enterprise architect rode into town in 1999 - confident, aggressive; one could almost hear his spurs jingle-jangle. "I started by hiring a chief architect - a sheriff with the big badge and the big chair and all the PowerPoint decks that money could buy," Godfrey recalls. "It proved to be untenable."

EA "Version 1," as Godfrey now calls it, didn't accomplish his goal of creating a unified IT architecture (standardized hardware and software systems) across all of Dow Jones's business units, with tighter links to the business and its strategy. It didn't work, Godfrey says, because he invested too much power in one person who had too much to do. When the architect/sheriff looked for cooperation from the different business units, he got static. They saw him as a cop who prevented them from using the technologies they thought they needed.

"It didn't get into the information flows of the business enough and was seen as an ivory tower project," says Godfrey.

So he adjusted. He abolished the chief architect job and, in 2001, designed a federated structure of architects from the different business units, working together to share best practices and coordinate architecture decisions across the company. Godfrey still wanted the same things, but he replaced the big badge and PowerPoint slides with cooperation and brown bag lunches.

That didn't work either.

The architects were co-opted by the business guys who demanded this, that and the next app for their lines of business. "The architects couldn't create enough time to work on enterprise architecture," Godfrey recalls.

Last June, Godfrey, a determined man, launched Enterprise Architecture Version 3.0, which combines elements of both approaches. He created what he calls the Architecture Zoning Board, run by a vice president of IT who reports directly to Godfrey, and three architects and seven senior technologists who manage the still-developing architecture. (For more on managing an enterprise architecture, see "EA Needs Governance", above.) Godfrey has invested the group with a lot of authority. Anyone at Dow Jones who wants to spend more than $US250,000 on a project must get approval from the architecture group. To get the money, project leaders have to submit to a review process in which Godfrey's architects decide whether the project's goals and technology fit into Dow Jones's overall business and technology strategy. Some businesspeople - and even a few IT people - grumble that Godfrey has replaced the cop with an entire precinct, but at least the rules and the goals (reduce costs, increase standardization, speed development) are clearer now. Godfrey says it's too early to tell whether the third time is the charm, but he's hopeful. "I believe we finally have the right balance and that 2005 will be the year we get EA to bite into capital planning, project processes and culture," he says.

In a time when enterprise architecture seems to be on almost every CIO's lips, Godfrey's Version 3.0 looks like many other mature enterprise architecture efforts. Most have a small central group (Forrester found that 84 percent of companies it surveyed had centralized enterprise architecture groups of fewer than 10 people, regardless of company size). The groups dangle a carrot (money) and wield a big stick (project review). Their goals are to promote alignment, standardization, reuse of existing IT assets, and the sharing of common methods for project management and software development across the company. The end result, theoretically, is that enterprise architecture will make IT cheaper, more strategic and more responsive.

And increasingly, whether by dint of desperation or by a cool assessment of what's recently become possible, CIOs - and their organizations - are buying into the theory.

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