Enterprises are preparing to respond to the business's ever-changing demands in an agile manner to reap the benefits of a shorter time to market. To fulfil organizational goals, they require a high level of business agility. Models and interactions between organizations are at an all-time high due to business complexity, and IT systems are supporting these complexities in various ways. Rather than developing custom-tailored rigid systems, many businesses opt to construct product-type customizable systems. The architects who provide technology leadership had to go above and beyond their scope to meet business objectives.
Architects' perceptions are evolving across the industry today. To gain credibility throughout the organization, Enterprise Architects are expected to code. The Enterprise Architect is also required to participate in the planning phase and the end-to-end implementation process. To define an enterprise's business strategy, the Enterprise Architect must collaborate closely with the business. In addition, the Enterprise Architect is in charge of determining how to put the company strategy into action.
Given the changing landscape, the enterprise architect must evolve to perform the strategic role of working closely with the business to define business strategy, architecture governance, and so on at an enterprise level while also overseeing how the business strategies are implemented through the agile architect. As a result, enterprise architects are adjusting to the comprehensive agile paradigm and easing into the role of Agile Enterprise Architect.
In this setting, it's critical to have a holistic framework in which the Enterprise architect can meet business needs while also offering business agility and allowing enterprises the much-needed faster time to market to compete. This article focuses on one such framework, the Agile Enterprise Architecture Framework, which aids in formulating a model that allows the Agile Enterprise architect to participate in end-to-end operations.
Agile Enterprise Architecture
Agile, which was created to better software development outcomes, was the hottest management trend in 2017. Agile is a software development and project management methodology. Individual projects are broken down into smaller, easier-to-manage pieces in Agile methodology in order to speed up the design process and create a high-quality result as rapidly as feasible. Several factors are driving this trend, but at its core, executive teams are looking for innovative approaches to accomplish business outcomes and create value in a more complicated and disruptive environment. They see Agile as a method to shake up old paradigms by enabling their employees to be more accountable for achieving results while also removing them from the constraints of traditional management frameworks and practices.
Agile is based on a set of simple concepts. The following are the main focuses of agile methodologies:
Individuals and interactions, rather than procedures and technologies, are the focus of this study.
Rather than detailed paperwork and project plans, we prefer to use working solutions.
Instead of contract negotiations, customers should collaborate; and
Rather than following a plan, you respond to change.
Agile Enterprise Architecture is a collaborative, lean, and adaptable approach to enterprise architecture. The participants in the collaboration process work together in a meaningful way to create a functional product that will satisfy the client early on. It uses the EA standard's iteration approach to build, deliver, and implement the valuable architecture. It encourages nimble businesses to innovate and utilize digital technologies. It is capable of dealing with changes swiftly, effectively, and efficiently.
Agile Enterprise Architecture Framework
Agile Enterprise Architecture is a collection of values, practices, and collaborations that support system evolution and design by constructing new architecture that supports Cloud, DevOps, Microservices, Data Analytics, Test Automation, and APIs. Agile Organization Architecture aids in the transformation of the enterprise to digital. The DevOps approach permits a system's architecture to grow over time through iterations.
The Agile EA Framework assists in breaking down barriers between IT and business, ideally by boosting unit co-location and rapidly assembling teams for new projects. The architect's primary goal is to create a Minimum Viable Product, improve it, and evolve it with each iteration. It would also take into account real-time user feedback as it iterates to add more features. The overarching goal is to use just enough architecture to achieve the MVP while avoiding large upfront designs.
The Agile EA Framework assists in the definition of architecture through an iterative life cycle, allowing the architectural design to grow over time as the problem and constraints become clearer.
To arrive at a flexible architecture, the architecture and the steady creation of the system must work hand in hand, with succeeding iterations addressing architectural challenges and decisions. The Agile EA Framework and its constituent steps are depicted in the diagram below.
Enterprise architecture serves as a compass for all architectural activities and decisions throughout the organization. The solution intent, which is the one source of truth for all the needs of the given system, is influenced by reference architectures, architectural design patterns, architecture principles, and other best practices. Intentional design improves solutions and makes cross-team collaboration easier. Rather than expanding out complexity, we must develop the most straightforward architecture that can operate.
The epics and their accompanying user stories are defined on the architecture runway. It is made comprised of existing infrastructure and code that is required to support the installation of new features. The architecture runway aids in the establishment of the collaboration model, norms, and rules, as well as the placement of system-wide components such as API Gateways, Enterprise Service Bus, Shared Platforms, and so on. It also aids in the identification of shared services - which are already present in the organization and may be reused.
The architecture strategy is a step in which the architecture vision, business objectives, projected business outcomes, backlogs, and Non Functional Requirements are defined (NFRs).
The architecture vision and upfront planning are covered in this step. It addresses the stakeholders' issues as well as the business challenge. The documentation provided by Architecture Vision is used to obtain approval to continue developing the target architecture. It addresses the problem's scope as well as stakeholder concerns. It also covers the priorities and desires of stakeholders.
The step that covers the development of planned architecture strategies, decision-making on common architecture patterns, and implementation technologies include the definition of deliberate architecture.
Some of the work items at the strategy level, such as NFRs and business outcomes, will be updated over iterations as necessary.
Release planning, release objectives, themes, and feature definitions are all covered in the sprint planning process. The creation of a basic strategy has been completed, which will aid in the achievement of the desired results—this aids in the grouping of features and the definition of priorities.
The basic architecture necessary for the minimal viable product is defined using enterprise architecture artefacts following the deliberate architecture in foundational architecture. The functionality covered by the Minimum Viable Architecture is only enough to deliver a useable product to stakeholders. This enables the architect to gather feedback for future features and enhancements.
The Agile EA taxonomy is defined during this step, which includes artefacts such as agile architecture principles, agile values, and agile practices used across the enterprise. It also contains rules, checklists, and best practices for adhering to the Agile Architecture domain artefacts.
The definition of minimum viable domain architectures for business, application, data, and technology is covered in this step. A set of domain architectures for the problem being addressed has been agreed upon by the stakeholders, together with a list of gaps and activities to close the gaps that the stakeholders have identified.
The solution's building blocks are also recognized, as are architectural dependencies detected and documented. The underlying design would expand over time, eventually leading to a comprehensive architecture accommodating all epics and stories.
Iterations are more minor phases in the sprint process, where epics are transformed into user stories and tasks. Each sprint delivers functional components of a finished project. These sprints were carried out in accordance with agile principles, including daily stand-ups, design and build activities, testing, and retrospectives, among other things. To build architecture, a daily stand-up and a self-organizing team collaborate.
Short-cycle design provides immediate results and long-term advice. Fast feedback loops with solution development teams, businesses, and customers are possible due to this. Iterative delivery improves the value to market cycle and increases corporate value.
The incremental architecture is where the architecture grows over time until a working product is produced. It undergoes a series of processes to evolve, including study, redesign, refactoring, and refining.
Working Product expresses the intended outcome without delving into the specifics of how something must be designed and implemented. It restricts the work to be done to a small time interval to reduce the amount of work in process.
It indicates the packages that came before and after it. The work product is linked to an aim, so the organization will have to change the target architecture if delivery is delayed or fails.
All architectural decisions are recorded, and risks and mitigations are underlined in detail.
Agile Architecture Governance & Assurance
Agile architecture governance aims to provide value across the organization, not simply within a single project. The goal of agile architecture governance is to build a link between enterprise management and project teams.
The Agile EA Governance Model, which has been in place for a while, helps to facilitate:
Agile teams should be able to make architecture decisions on their own.
Take advantage of interdisciplinary agile teams' capacity to cope with complicated issues
Enterprise Architecture's administrative overhead should be reduced.
Enhance Enterprise Architecture's reach
The focus of an Agile Architecture implementation as an Enterprise Architect should be on:
Architecture with a purpose. Collaboration is an essential aspect of architecture.
Create the most basic architecture that will work (established design principles)
It can be coded or modelled (spikes, prototype, domain, and use case models)
Build it and put it through its paces (design for testability)
Streamline the architectural flow (architectural epics and the portfolio kanban)
The deliberate, foundational, and incremental architectures, architectural decisions, solution building blocks, and NFRs are rigorously scrutinized during Agile Architecture Assurance to verify that the proper architecture is in place to satisfy the business objectives.
Agile Architecture Assurance is a never-ending process. It facilitates the discussion of open architectural questions/topics identified and the receipt of specific responses, directions, and agreement on the next steps.
Sprint Architecture Pit Stops aid in discussing architecture with external teams such as infrastructure, security, data, and other aspects of architecture to identify and resolve any concerns. Sprint Architecture Orientation sessions are used to discuss the most recent architecture thinking about where the solution is evolving with crosscutting functional topics.
The Architectural Assurance Gate is a mechanism via which the architecture, along with all decisions, risks, architecture assumptions, and NFR, is presented to the enterprise/program authority for formal approval.
Enterprises can use the Agile Enterprise Architecture Framework to address company agility and market rivalry. Through iterations, the Agile Enterprise Architecture Framework permits the system's architecture to grow constantly over time. It follows the "just enough" architecture principle and avoids large-scale projects upfront. The framework's many steps handle business value stream coverage, technical debt acceptance, architecture considerations, and so on. The framework's progressive approach ensures that the design is extendable and consistent with the goal while also detailing and responding to corporate requirements.
In agile, the architect must remain involved with the team at all times. It is necessary to be visionary while yet managing change and complexity. Begin participating in the project as soon as the business outcome and value streams are defined. Review the value streams with the business team to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that what is promised is delivered—Check in with the team regularly to ensure that they adhere to the stated design. As an architect, I've had to defend my team from unnecessary bureaucracy on numerous occasions.
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