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Why Enterprise Architecture needs a budget

November 20, 2011 - Technology

blueprintMy “favorite” time of year — annual planning season — is finally wrapping up.  As everyone in IT kisses the approved 2012 project inventory and breathes a heavy sigh of relief, we use this time to reflect on lessons learned during the planning process.  This or that should’ve happened earlier… so and so should’ve been involved… etc.

The biggest lesson learned this year: Enterprise Architecture really needs an annual project budget.

Most of the projects that make it into the plan every year are driven by business units, introducing new IT capabilities required to support evolving business initiatives.  But when presented with the fact that the SAP BW environment is desperately in need of both a software and hardware upgrade, the business units point at one another, not wanting to front the cost of badly needed preventative maintenance on a shared platform.

And I certainly don’t blame them.  A good friend and colleague of mine frequently uses this analogy:

A bridge needs to be built. In our current IT funding model, we charge the first car in line the entire cost of building the bridge. Then the bridge is in place for everyone to use… until the bridge collapses, at which point we charge the very next car in line the full cost of rebuilding the bridge.

What we need to do is allocate the Enterprise Architecture organization a certain percentage of the IT budget annually.  Of all the groups in IT, they have the most visibility into (and responsibility for) the state of the systems in place, supporting critical business processes daily.  What systems’ versions are lagging behind?  Which systems are running into performance problems?  What system upgrades are needed to provide additional functionality required by business units?

Not only should Enterprise Architecture have the answers to those questions, they should have an annual budget they can allocate to project delivery groups to address them.

So, we muscled in a couple system preventative maintenance projects this year, but hopefully we’ll make it easier on ourselves next year and simply give EA a budget to prioritize and allocate as needed.

Does Enterprise Architecture have its own budget in your organization?

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