Defense IT exec says business doesn't get enterprise architecture

Business "just doesn't get it" when it comes to enterprise architecture projects although it has the potential to deliver great productivity savings, according to Kim Lambert, director of architecture support at the Australian Department of Defence.

Lambert said pushing for short-term results on enterprise architecture projects is pointless.

"Managers often strive for benefits within two to three years, because of the design of ongoing performance-based managerial contracts, but for most organizations it takes between five and six years to actually reap real benefits; and often these projects can take twice as long as that," he said.

Lambert described enterprise architecture as a complex set of ideas, so it isn't easily understood by business.

"As a result management fails to buy-in to these projects, which end up doomed," he said.

"Early on, the project tends to have a technical focus, but when you start to look at ICT holistically you can see the rapid gains in productivity performance or savings, because you can see where you are duplicating resources; this is the way to fuel management support for these projects."

Lambert admitted that Defence has had challenges in the last three years "losing touch between different areas" which isn't helped by the fact that Defence is "huge with plenty of scope."

Back in 2002, Lambert said Defence established an official Office of the CIO, and within that area enterprise architecture was formed.

He said the defense architecture framework was defined and sold to senior management.

Despite this, Lambert said there are still no clearly defined review cycles for architecture and standards.

However, he said DoD is currently developing a standards management systems as well as further architecture advice and review.

"We are in the process of developing standards management systems to replace our stock of interlinked word documents and make this available on the Web; we are developing a more usable architecture repository system and have started our guidance document development for communications strategy," Lambert said.

"Defence is moving to a point where we will see something from concept to development to make sure that people working on a project understand the structure.

"We plan to evolve the architecture framework to ensure needs are met 10 to 15 years from now."

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