Enterprise Architecture Practice Under a Magnifying Glass: Linking Artifacts, Activities, Benefits, and Blockers
Enterprise architecture (EA) is a collection of artifacts that describe an organization from an integrated business and IT perspective intended to improve business and IT alignment. EA artifacts can be very diverse in nature and have different use cases in disparate organizational activities. Previous studies have identified numerous benefits and challenges of establishing EA practice. However, most existing studies discuss the benefits and problems of EA practice in general without relating them to any particular activities constituting EA practice. In order to address this gap, this study analyzes the benefits and blockers associated with specific EA-related activities and respective artifacts. Based on 18 interviews with practicing architects, we identify eight consistent activity areas constituting EA practice. Each of these activity areas essentially represents a separate “story” in the context of EA practice and implies certain activities supported by some EA artifacts leading to specific benefits often impeded by some blockers. These eight activity areas provide a more detailed understanding of EA practice than the one offered by the current EA literature. Moreover, our findings indicate that EA practice should not be viewed as some homogeneous organizational activity and that EA should not be conceptualized simply as a unified blueprint for information systems. We also argue for the need to rethink the very terms “enterprise architecture” and “EA practice”, which appear to be oversimplified and unsuitable for analyzing EA practice in depth. This study has significant implications for both research and practice.