Using enterprise architecture in intergovernmental organizations


Modern institutions invest large amounts of resources to build technology platforms and business applications that will support organizational activities to fulfil their institutional mandates. These institutions operate hundreds of computer-based information systems or applications to support their activities. Each of these systems is aimed at improving the speed, efficiency, and quality of a number of business processes within the institution."

However, the enormous number of systems gives rise to a high level of complexity for those actors responsible for implementing, integrating, operating, and further developing them. ’ There is the additional complexity of ensuring that all the various actors within an institution align their strategic and tactical perspectives for the common good. According to Kotusev, these actors are:

  • • Business executives who are responsible for strategic planning and making investment decisions;
  • • Information technology (IT) executives who are responsible for IT strategies and aligning them to business needs;
  • • IT project teams that are responsible for implementing IT projects in order to satisfy business requirements at the unit level; and
  • • Business unit managers who are responsible for running local routine business processes on a daily basis.4

The misalignment between business actors and IT actors caused by miscommunication often results in wasted IT investments, disappointment in IT, and reduced business performance.5 Doucet et al. argue that enterprise architecture

(EA) has the potential to align strategy, business, and technology elements across the entire enterprise,6 providing the context and standards for implementing best practices.' EA constitutes a collection of special documents (artefacts) that describe various aspects of an organization, particularly from an integrated business and IT perspective, that are intended to bridge the communication gap between business and IT stakeholders, facilitate information systems planning, and thereby improve business and IT alignment. For this reason, researchers regard EA as a promising concept for business and IT stakeholders to cope with the complexity caused by multifarious technology ecosystems.

Information professionals in general and records professionals in particular have not featured prominently in EA. This may be partly explained by the reality that records professionals have tried to fulfil their professional mandate using theories and methods developed for a paper rather than a digital environment. " Therefore, the research objective explores the extent to which archives and records professionals are aware of EA in their institutions. While a variety of institutions have implemented EA, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) are unique types of international organizations that are established by international agreement, that must have their own separate organs serving as secretariats, and that address issues or challenges that transcend national borders.

This chapter outlines the development of the EA discipline and, within the context of IGOs, explores the extent to which actors (in general) and information professionals (in particular) are aware of EA.

This chapter draws from a research study conducted under the auspices of the InterPARES Trust project that explored the utility of an EA framework known as The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) within an institutional setting.” InterPARES Trust was the fourth phase of a multi-year project investigating the long-term preservation of authentic digital records.”

Literature review

This section traces the intellectual progress of the EA concept using an outline of its history and development. It offers a small sample of the varied framework models that have been developed throughout the course of EA’s history. Next, the section briefly discusses one of these framework models, TOGAF, considered a de facto standard by EA practitioners; and an accompanying standard, ArchiMate.

Enterprise architecture definition

From a definitional perspective, the term “enterprise” covers many areas of systematic and purposeful human activity. However, in this context, the word most often refers to an institution or organization, parts of an institution or organization, or a group of institutions or organizations.15 The term “architecture,” when used in the context of abstracting the enterprise to identify scope, function, and relationships, includes the frameworks, methods, and artefacts that describe the design and function of enterprises in current and future states. Institutions often implement architectural activities at the enterprise, business unit, service, and system levels in a consistent manner.16

EA is an approach to improve the alignment between the organization’s business and its information technologies. EA does this by capturing “the status of the organisations’ business architecture, information resources, information systems, and technologies so that the gaps and weaknesses in their processes and infrastructures can be identified, and development directions planned.”17 According to Kotusev, EA constitutes a collection of special documents (artefacts) describing various aspects of an organization from an integrated business and IT perspective that are intended to bridge the communication gap between business and IT stakeholders. s These components are:

  • 1. Types of EA artefacts (different types of models, core diagrams, project-start architectures, etc.);
  • 2. Bases for EA artefacts (business strategy, operating model, business initiatives, etc.);
  • 3. Ways to structure EA artefacts (various frameworks);
  • 4. Process steps (architecture vision, business architecture, information systems architecture, migration planning, etc.);
  • 5. Objects of description (current state, future state, roadmaps, etc.);
  • 6. Scopes of description (entire enterprises or individual initiatives); and
  • 7. Ways to use EA artefacts (following roadmaps, implementing project-start architectures, etc.).19

Therefore, the artefacts become effective tools for cross-disciplinary communication.2"

EA components are then organised in a five-step logic:

  • • Document the current state (or what is known as the “as-is” state);
  • • Describe the future state (or what is known as the ‘“should-be” or “to-be” state);
  • • Analyse the gaps;
  • • Develop a transition plan; and
  • • Implement the plan.”

In this way, EA deployment provides holistic views that address institution-wide integration through coherent principles, methods, and models.22

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