Creating a Business Case for Enterprise Architecture

Can you prove the business value of Enterprise Architecture? Here are some helpful hints...


Despite an impetus to the contrary, Enterprise and thus the Enterprise Architectural program still have not adopted real risk-return analysis of the actual program and project investment, using either some subjective case study, or relying on others’ numbers published by vendors / separate consulting groups / evangelists with, at best, a traditional cost-benefit analysis that makes no attempt to capture the “intangible” benefits of EA or the risks in an actuarially-sound manner. Enterprise budget is mostly emotionally charged investment into a large Enterprise Transformation programme without a scientific Risk Return analysis.

Ideally, the Enterprise Architecture program should be tightly aligned with business effectiveness through technology innovation. But how do we measure “business effectiveness through technology innovation”? Applied Information Economics explains exactly how to define the “Unit of Measure” for anything. AIE is a powerful tool that uses “calibrated probability assessments”, computes the value of information, then uses empirical measurements exactly where and at what level it is justified. This article aims at empowering the reader with the amazing AIE tool.

Enterprise Architecture Benefit Analysis Challenge

Enterprise Architecture philosophy has been in the market for last 2 decades. There are many players in operation in this field. The Enterprise Architecture Programme has become a much-promoted but debated topic since it has not yet been successfully formalised (Architecture, Interface, Tool and Semantics formalism) its offering landscape. All major players in this Enterprise Architecture space such as TOGAF, DoDAF, TEAF, FEAF, and C4ISRAFE ignored the importance of the enterprise benefit analysis process and remained incapable of addressing the two most important questions: “Why EA?” And “What do we need in order to take EA on-board?”

All the available leading Enterprise Architecture Frameworks are still far away from addressing the original intention of EAF, rich inheritance of Generalised Enterprise Reference Architecture Framework (GERAM) and short-circuited to a glossy ware with a clear symptom of astigmatism, and therefore, still have often proven to be a will-of-the-wisp. Enterprise is affected by Catch-22 symptoms.


Figure 1: Enterprise Architecture Adoption Path. The missing link to Enterprise Success

All these existing EA programs are of great help in providing “How to achieve a successful EA Foundation?”, but not “How to Measure EA Benefits?” AIE is the only method in the industry that measures EA with regard to these benefits. The following diagram outlines an 8 step process to assist the reader in understanding the Enterprise Economic Benefit Analysis:

Figure 2: Enterprise Economic Benefit Analysis Steps

In our next section, we will discuss Enterprise Views as these Enterprise Views are the prime windows that help enterprise architects in looking through the Economic View of enterprise. IT is highly recommended to get involved in the Enterprise Master Plan Development. The following resources are excellent guides: The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step and Enterprise Master Plan: Not a Playground for Snakes and Ladders provide a detailed understanding of the Enterprise Master Plan as well as Enterprise Entity Concepts.

Enterprise Views

Within any enterprise architecture, the concerns of stakeholders are considered the most important as those concerns effectively drive software architects to consider different ‘views’ and ‘viewpoints’ that finally shape the real picture of the enterprise architectural landscape. A ‘view’ is what we see at a particular point of time, whereas a ‘viewpoint’ is the way in which we are seeing the situation at that particular point in time. Therefore, time spent with stakeholders becomes another important parameter in order to achieve an accurate view. This is why it becomes important for the enterprise architectural governance or the “master plan” to consider situations like “was”, “as-is” and “to-be” in every respect, leaving aside situations like “should-be”, “needs-are” and “could-be” as optional.

The efficiency and strength of any enterprise architecture is effectively reflected by its support of views and viewpoints. Enterprise landscape reaches its perfection with the existence and guidance towards more views. GERAM defines the following 4 extremely powerful enterprise views:


Figure 3: Enterprise Views

These views are extremely powerful, not only in deriving a complete enterprise architecture ingredient but also can be very powerful in deriving an economic view of an enterprise.

Enterprise Architecture Benefit Analysis: What do we Measure?

This section will provide you with a comprehensive list of areas where EA benefits are most powerfully realized


Table 1: Enterprise Architecture Benefit areas

Enterprise Views


Benefit Realization Areas

Entity Model Content View


Generation of 3 most powerful, reusable and evolutionary enterprise assets

o Functional Model

o Business Process Model

o Decision Model


Generation of 2 other reusable and evolutionary enterprise assets

o Data Model

o Entity Model


o Generation of Stakeholders and Actors Onion Model


o Business Entity Hierarchy

o Organization Unit Hierarchy

o Actor Hierarchy

o Management Hierarchy

o Stakeholder Hierarchy

Entity Purpose View

Customer Service and Product

o Enterprise Mission, Vision and Values

o Operation Policy

o Market Analysis

o Competitive Factors

o Technology Trend

o Economic Return

o Critical Success Factor

o Product strategy

o Company Resource

o Business Service Architecture

o Information Architecture of the Business

o Process Oriented Conception

o Enterprise Process and Methodology

o Architectural Approach

o Enterprise Integration Conceptualization

Management And Control

o Alignment between Business, Information technology (IT) and Management alignment

o Enables agility

o Transparent accessibility of information

o Value Chain Integration (Effective integration with business partner, service providers)

o Streamlined supply chain

o Enterprise Governance

Entity Implementation View

Human Implemented Tasks

o Better information availability

o Better Productivity

o Reduced learning curve

Automated Tasks

o Simple standardized technologies / tools / module stack

o Improves interoperability and integration

o Integration of existing applications

o Improved data integration

o Supports business process management

o Facilitates intra and inter-enterprise communication

o Rapid Productivity and custom application development

o Reduced manpower

o Reduced manual Risks

Entity Physical Manifestation View


o Simplifies IT investment decision-making

o Reduces system diversity

o Reducing Integration Expense

o Software Asset Reuse: Same software stack can be applied to address a broad range of business problem


o Simplifies IT investment decision-making

o Reduces system diversity

o Reducing Integration Expense

o Hardware Asset Reuse: Same hardware stack can be applied to address a broad range of business problem

The quality model set up in ISO 9126 extended with the Unit of Measure and Source of Measurement Information would provide guidance in classifying these realized benefits in terms of a structured set of characteristics and sub-characteristics as follows:

Table 2: EA Benefit Characteristics

Benefit Characteristics


Unit of Measure

Source of Measurement Information



Cost Reduction and Cost Avoidance in repeat use

1. Direct and Indirect Surveys / Researches

2. Organizational Timesheet

3. Previous Project metrics

For further Reference: Chapter 8, [How to Measure Anything]





Prevention of an unknown expense




Fault Tolerance



Cost Reduction and Cost Avoidance in repeat use




Time Behaviour

Resource Behaviour








Prevention of an unknown expense



Enterprise Architecture benefits are mainly information tangible in nature. Information is the key to realizing these benefits in a tangible nature. Information is the essential ingredient to value creation of EA. The present single-mindedness of EA benefits only through cost-benefit analysis that swings the pendulum back inside the enterprise architecture frameworks’ court, and back to its available biased data and collective beliefs. It is unfortunate that these “very same organizations do not routinely apply those same sophisticated risk analysis methods to much bigger decisions with more uncertainty and more potential for loss” [How to Measure Anything, chapter 6, page 83]. According to AIE, there are three basic reasons that information makes so much difference in enterprise decision process:

  1. It reduces uncertainty
  2. It influences corporate behavioural thought processes
  3. Information itself carries so much value

All these three natural contributions of information into our enterprise information portfolio have significant economic consequences. Information helps enterprise to understand the Expected Opportunity Loss Factor (EOLF) without EA in place. Information, and therefore, the EA Framework help our enterprise in generating the EVI curve (The Expected Value of Information) that significantly contributes to enterprise economy. EA can help the software architect to resolve the Measurement Inversion paradox. According to AIE, the attributes of Business cases are in the following ascending order: Initial Cost, Long-Term Cost, Cost Savings Benefits, Labour Productivity, Revenue Improvement, Technology Adoption Rate and Project Completion (Chance of Cancellation). However, it is unfortunate that most of the enterprise project is invested most often on Initial Cost which has the least information value. EA should emphasise this Measurement Inversion principle to realize the greatest number of EA benefits. While EOLF and EVI are two important AIE contributions that clarify EA benefit analysis, modern portfolio theory based Risk-Return Profile analysis is another wonderful area of AIE domain. Every enterprise projects in our portfolio must go through this Risk-Return Profile analysis before it finally gets investment approval. SOA projects within an enterprise are the classic examples of Risk-Return profile analysis business case.

SOA Risk Return Analysis

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) has recently become the only faith in this age of enterprise chaos. SOA has suddenly formed a radical wave that has made people believe in a separate architectural approach, which I view as a failure of EA Frameworks. On the other hand, this failure significantly contributed to the current EA versus SOA debate. Due to a poor support of the right set of enterprise views and viewpoints, inadequate standard based foundation and wisdom driven market leading EA Frameworks are not capable of unravelling integration puzzles, which effectively not only ignited a sparking discrimination between EA and SOA but also successfully originated two separate architectural belief systems, and flooded the media. EA Frameworks are unable to create a solid enterprise integration road map approach that extracts the right set of enterprise metadata information out of the enterprise classification framework which shifts the nature of the current enterprise portfolios from components to on-demand services, data to meta-model, modules to models, and so on. However, the following enterprise views diagram shows that the origin of SOA is nothing but a better understanding of Enterprise Purpose Views and Enterprise Implementation View, whereas the Physical Manifestation View deals with the actual technological construction phase.


Figure 4: Service Oriented Alignment from Enterprise Views

All the market leader EA Framework providers maintain the objective of conquering the EA world with such weak support in Enterprise Views. The birth of different technology innovations make the situation more complicated.

Figure 5: Business, Technology and Service dimensions

The IT innovation paradigm shift is the key to enterprise agility as simple information systems have moved into more complex model-driven systems. However, the model is not the only essence of a model driven enterprise system. Meta-information (or models) is one of the keys to this next generation of enterprise. The enterprise should also be able to seamlessly interact with other enterprises using disparate technology. The key is the CORE (Classify, Organise and Relate the Entities). Recommended reading would be Model Driven Enterprise Architecture: Unleash the CORE. This CORE feature makes it easy to wire the enterprise meta-information together in a robust, decoupled, on-demand enterprise environment that supports the activity events, supports transparent routing, transports the business information within the value chain boundary and transforms the value chain.

Figure 6: CORE (Classify, Organise and Relate the Entities)

It is therefore obvious that successful SOA camp members should have a strong CORE before we see any light of SOA benefits within the enterprise. Without the presence of a successful integration practice and becoming new technology adopters within enterprise layers, SOA implementations could result in “sour grapes” situation, which has become obvious from recent surveys.

Organizations are recommended to perform their own Risk-Return Profile analysis in order to get the Risk-Return index profile as recommended by AIE.

As part of the Risk Return Analysis steps, the value of additional information is computed and a statistical model of IT investments is created to assess their chance of success/failure. This resultant graph is plotted against investment size, and reveals that whether a project should be accepted, rejected, or go through a complete risk/return analysis.

Figure 7: Example of Risk Return Analysis Graph. Source: Hubbard Decision Research. Adapted with kind permission

In this RRA graph, Zone 1 represents a very safe investment zone where investment is happily acceptable. However Zone 2 indicates the worst case scenario where investment is not recommended at all. On the other hand, Zone 3 requires a Full RRA repetition, and Zone 4 recommends another round of abbreviated RRA.

SOA implementers falling within Zone 2, 3 and 4 are not advised to get SOA trapped without a clear EA implementation in place within the organization and well organized integrated CORE in existence.

The following table explains some of the candidate SOA business case scenarios and if the organization is falling within any of these value chain relationships, SOA might be a choice provided the organization is in Zone 1 of Figure 7.

Table 3: Value chain Relationship

Relationship Type


B2C (Business-to-Consumer)


Online Support

Product Vendors

B2B (Business-to-Business)

Supply Chain Management

Internet based EDI

B2E (Business-to-Employee)

e-procurement system

B2B Collaboration

C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer)



C2B (Consumer-to-Business)

Reverse Auction

From the above discussion, it can be concluded that SOA success is not a magic silver bullet and requires a proper Risk Return Analysis before its actual implementation. SOA success primarily depends on measurement of at least the following candidate variables:

1. Entity Model Content View Variables

2. Entity Purpose View Variables

3. Enterprise Skill sets

4. Integration Maturity Level

5. Infrastructure maturity Level

6. Enterprise Process and Methodology

7. EA Maturity

8. Agility Enablement

9. Technology Maturity

10. Enterprise Value Chain Prospects

SOA benefits are mostly realized within Enterprise Purpose View, Enterprise Implementation View and Physical Manifestation Views. Please refer to Table 1 for further details of SOA benefit analysis around these enterprise views.

Enterprise Classification Framework: How to collect measurable information

An enterprise classification framework organizes the explicit knowledge and intelligence of the enterprise business entity in an efficient way on the basis of stakeholders’ views and viewpoints to help build enterprise architecture. The Enterprise Classification Framework is an analytical tool that facilitates clear descriptive representations of any complex adaptive enterprise system. An Enterprise Classification Framework like Harmony, The Enterprise Classification Framework, provides the following benefits to Enterprise Architecture:

· Accumulates all disjointed or non-cohesive information intelligence about the enterprise business entity

· Elaborates the fuzzy enterprise boundary

· Helps to transform chaos to an ordered enterprise system

· Enables an integrated operative systems that bridges the gap between the business and technology

· Acts as an analytical information intelligence system that provides enterprise a common integration baseline.

Figure 8: Harmony, the Enterprise Classification Framework

For further details about the Harmony, the Enterprise Classification Framework please refers to MDA Radar and Classification Framework.

Enterprise Risk Return Analysis and Portfolio Management

Providing support to Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) which proposes how rational investors should use diversification to optimize their portfolios, and how a risky asset should be priced is one of the great features of AIE. The basic concepts of the MPT are Markowitz diversification, the efficient frontier, capital asset pricing model, the alpha and beta coefficients, the Capital Market Line and the Securities Market Line. Therefore, it is very important that every project and Investment (For example Enterprise Architecture Program investment, all smaller Projects under one Enterprise Transformation Program and so on) should construct an "efficient" frontier and should diversify the portfolios to achieve the best return. The exact trade-off will differ by investor, based upon individual risk aversion characteristics.

The Applied Information Economic Based Enterprise Risk Return Analysis is best suited to be part of the Enterprise Portfolio Management phase as introduced by Enterprise Unified Process.

Figure 9: Plan Portfolio and Programs workflow detail. Source: Ambysoft. Used with kind permission of Scott W. Ambler

Enterprise Benefit Analysis and Enterprise Architecture Tools

I am not aware of any EA Tools that has gotten integrated AIE support with sensible benefit analysis. However, please refer to Enterprise Architecture Tools: What is in the Enterprise Mind? for further details.


Enterprise Architecture adoption is highly dependent on EA Benefit Analysis. My earlier part of this article has introduced the concepts of Applied Information Economics and now at the same time has explained the EA parameters, which are critical to measuring the EA Benefits and implementing RRA.

The Enterprise Business Sponsor team and EA Tool Vendors should take a fresh look at several potential sources of economic and technological benefits from the proposed Business-IT-Management alignment or Enterprise Transformation Program.

Copyright Declaration

Figure 7 source is [HDR]. Adapted with permission of Douglas W. Hubbard

Figure 9 source is [Ambysoft]. Used with kind permission of Scott W. Ambler


The author is sincerely thankful to Douglas W. Hubbard [HDR], and Peter S. Schay, Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer, The Advisory Council for sharing their Personal Advisory Report [PAR].


· [HDR]Hubbard Decision Research

· [How to Measure Anything] How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of "Intangibles" in Business (Hardcover)by Douglas W. Hubbard, Published by Wiley (Due on August 3, 2007, Ready to Pre-Order), ISBN-10: 0470110120, ISBN-13: 978-0470110126

· The Management of Intangibles: The Organisations Most Valuable Assets (Routledge Advances in Management & Business Studies) by A. Bounfour, published by Routledge, ISBN: 0415224934

· MDA Radar

· Life-Cycle Costing: Using Activity-Based Costing and Monte Carlo Methods to Manage Future Costs and Risks (Hardcover) by Jan Emblemsvåg, published by Wiley (March 14, 2003), ISBN: 0471358851

· GERAM: Generalized Enterprise Reference Architecture and Methodology. Version 1.6.3 . Also in P. Bernus, L. Nemes and G. Schmidt (Eds) Handbook on Enterprise Architecture, Berlin : Springer (2003) pp 22-64:

· Strategic Alignment: Leveraging information technology for transforming operations by J C Henderson and N Venkatraman, IBM System Journal, Vol 32, No 1, 1993, Page 4-16

· Strategy as a creation of corporate future by Brane Kalpic, Krsto Pandza and Peter Bernus, Chapter 4, P 213-279 in Handbook on Enterprise Architecture, Chapter by Bernus, P., Nemes, L. and G. Schmidt (eds.) , Springer, (2003), ISBN is 3540003436


· A HANDBOOK ON MASTER PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION FOR ENTERPRISE INTEGRATION PROGRAMS Based On The Purdue Enterprise Reference Architecture and the Purdue Methodology Purdue Laboratory for Applied Industrial Control Edited by Theodore J. Williams, Gary A. Rathwell, Hong Li. February 2001 (Revised from July 1999 PERA website version)

· What is PERA Master Planning Methodology?

· The Economic Benefits of Enterprise Architecture by Jaap Schekkerman, Published by Trafford, ISBN: 1412067294

· How To Measure Anything

· The Development Risk Premium of IS Projects And Consequences for IS Management By Douglas W. Hubbard

· Risk and Uncertainty in Cost Benefit Analysis

· US Government Study on AIE

· Federal CIO Council comparison of AIE and balanced scorecard

· Environmental Protection Agency AIE study about optimizing desktop replacement

· Original CIO Magazine "Value Made Visible" article by Tracy Mayor reprinted at Boeing Center for Technology

· Dept. of Homeland Security Cybersecurity article discusses the AIE method

· How to profit from technology by Ian Grant

· Messaging Patterns in Service-Oriented Architecture, Part 1

· Building SOA applications with reusable assets: Reusable assets, recipes, and patterns

· Improve your SOA project plans

· SOA realization: Service design principles

· Streamline SOA development using service mocks

· ESB versus Fabric…Stop It!

· Coupling Versus Cohesion: When to Leverage Services





· INTEGRATED Enterprise: Transformation Through Technology Innovation

· Model Driven Enterprise Architecture: Unleash the CORE

· [PAR] Hubbard, Douglas W., Personal Advisory Report, the Advisory Council, July 2007

· [Ambysoft]

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