Lack of Communication and Collaboration in Enterprise Architecture Development

Abstract

Enterprise architecture (EA) is widely employed to reduce complexity and to improve business–information technology (IT) alignment. Despite the efforts by practitioners and academics in proposing approaches to smoothen EA development, it is not easy to find a fully successful EA. Because EA development is a complex endeavour, it is important to understand the obstacles that practitioners face during EA development. With the grounded theory, we studied how obstacles during EA development emerged from practitioners’ point of view in 15 large enterprises. The study identifies lack of communication and collaboration as the core obstacle that can explain many other obstacles. Communication and collaboration were also harmed by other perceived EA development obstacles, including lack of knowledge and support inside organization and issues imposed by external parties, hesitation in training personnel, setting too ambitious goals, constant change of management, (lack of) clarity in EA development process, lack of budget, forcing personnel to adopt EA, lack of motivation, organizational culture, and organizational structure deficiencies. The lack of communication and collaboration caused several undesired effects to organizations, such as being unable to set common goals and achieve a shared understanding, personnel’s distrust, endangered EA governance, lack of innovation capability, lost competitive edge, and ineffective EA outputs. The study highlights that organisations should improve their communication and collaboration before embarking on EA to encounter fewer obstacles. We provide four recommendations for practitioners to improve communication and collaboration in EA development.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by Academy of Finland grant #259454.

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Correspondence to Negin Banaeianjahromi.

Appendices

Appendix 1

Interview questions:

1st round of interviews (May and June 2014):

Can you tell us about your job?

  1. 1.

    What is your job position/title?

Integration questions

  1. 1.

    IT architecture: Can you briefly summarise the most important

    1. a.

      internal and

    2. b.

      external systems the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is integrated with?

  2. 2.

    Can you tell us about the key technologies and standards that are used in integration?

  3. 3.

    When developing the ERP system, how do you determine when to integrate the ERP system with another system?

  4. 4.

    Who states the requirements for integration (think about the roles of the business and IT departments of your organisation, the role of the vendor and the role of external consultants)?

  5. 5.

    Integration projects: Can you identify different types of integration projects—for example, when integrating the ERP system with

    1. a.

      another internal system?

    2. b.

      an external system?

  6. 6.

    Who are involved in integration projects (business, IT, vendor, consultants)? Can you tell us especially about the vendor’s role?

  7. 7.

    Can you think of any common challenges that are always present in integration projects?

  8. 8.

    Let’s say you realise that the ERP system has to be integrated with an external system of the supply chain. What kind of approach is used? How do things progress after the decision to integrate has been made?

  9. 9.

    How do you measure the success of an integration project?

EA questions

  1. 1.

    What is EA, in your opinion?

  2. 2.

    Who are involved in the creation/development of EA in your organisation? Do you have your own full-time architecture team?

  3. 3.

    Are you involved with EA in your work? How is EA related to your work?

  4. 4.

    Can you tell us about the history of EA development in your organisation? (From when did you realise the need for EA in your company, or has it always been there?)

  5. 5.

    What standard methodologies and frameworks do you use in EA development (such as The Open Group Architecture Framework [TOGAF], Zachman…)? (Regarding readymade practices, are they useful at all, and if not, why?)

    1. a.

      Why did you choose to use this specific framework?

    2. b.

      Have you customised the framework, or have you used it as it is?

  6. 6.

    What are the challenges you have faced during EA development? (EA is often considered a difficult thing; why do you think it is difficult to create and manage EA?)

  7. 7.

    Can you describe how EA is used or how it can be used in your organisation? In which situations is EA needed?

  8. 8.

    When you are making investments, is EA considered in the decision-making process (for example, when you think about the current Business-to-Business [B2B] project)?

  9. 9.

    Is your EA meeting your expectations? Does it match the needs of your company?

  10. 10.

    How about managing knowledge about EA? Is this knowledge always documented? How do you train people on EA?

Concluding questions

1. Can you name other persons whom we should interview based on the topics we have been discussing?

2. Can we interview you again next year?

2nd round of interviews (May to July 2015):

General questions

  1. 1.

    What is your current position?

  2. 2.

    How long have you been working at this company?

  3. 3.

    How many people are working at your company?

  4. 4.

    How many people are working in the IT department of your company?

  5. 5.

    Do you have a permanent IT team at your company, or do vendors from outside of the company meet your IT needs?

    1. a.

      With which companies do you have contracts, and what do they do for you?

    EA questions

  6. 1.

    What is EA, in your opinion?

  7. 2.

    Do you employ EA in your daily work? How?

  8. 3.

    Please tell us the story behind EA development at your company?

    1. a.

      When did you realise your need for EA (reasons for developing EA)?

  9. 4.

    Who makes decision regarding EA at your organisation?

  10. 5.

    Have you provided any education for your personnel regarding EA?

    1. a.

      In which development stage are you, and who has received training?

    EA team

  11. 1.

    How many people are employed on the EA team at your organisation?

  12. 2.

    In general, what are the EA team’s responsibilities at your organisation?

  13. 3.

    How does the EA team at your organisation take action on a project?

  14. 4.

    When does the EA team usually engage in projects at your organisation?

Pre-implementation stage

  1. 1.

    What actions did you take before starting your EA project? How did you make you organisation ready to adopt EA?

  2. 2.

    What were your primary goals for EA development?

  3. 3.

    What were the challenges you faced during this stage?

Development stage

  1. 1.

    How did you implement EA (insourcing or outsourcing)?

    1. a.

      How did you choose your consultant?

    2. b.

      How satisfied are you with your EA consultant?

    3. c.

      How is the cooperation between your EA consultant and IT personnel? Is it satisfactory?

    4. d.

      Do you have any problems with your EA consultant?

  2. 2.

    What standard methodologies and frameworks do you use in EA development (such as TOGAF, Zachman…)?

    1. a.

      How did you choose to use this specific framework?

    2. b.

      Have you customised the framework or used it as it is?

  3. 3.

    How long did it take to implement EA at your organisation?

  4. 4.

    Has the EA had any influence on your company’s investments? How?

  5. 5.

    What are the challenges you faced during EA development?

EA results

  1. 1.

    What results have you gotten from EA development? What are the outcomes of this development?

  2. 2.

    How have these results been determined?

  3. 3.

    To what extent are you satisfied with the results obtained from the implementation of EA?

    1. a.

      If you are not satisfied with the results of your EA, what are the reasons for this dissatisfaction?

  4. 4.

    In your opinion, what are the challenges in the results obtained from EA development?

  5. 5.

    How many of your initial goals were fulfilled?

Post-implementation stage

  1. 1.

    Does your organisation have any programme for reviewing and updating its EA?

    1. a.

      Has it been performed yet?

    2. b.

      How often does your organisation update its EA?

    3. c.

      How important is the EA update? What challenges are faced in updating EA?

  2. 2.

    If you had the chance to redo the EA development at your organisation, what might you do differently, and why?

  3. 3.

    What were the challenges you faced after EA implementation?

    1. a.

      What solutions did you adopt to eliminate these challenges?

  4. 4.

    How do you evaluate the EA’s success and effects at your organisation?

  5. 5.

    In your opinion, what is the role of EA in enterprise integration?

Final questions

  1. 1.

    Is there anything else you would like to mention regarding this topic?

  2. 2.

    Can you name other persons whom we should interview based on the topics we have been discussing?

  3. 3.

    Can we interview you again in the future?

Appendix 2

Table 4 Identified obstacles and their relationships with one another

Appendix 3

Table 5 Codes, categories, and their relationships created as the result of open coding and axial coding

Appendix 4

Numbers in the table refer to the three development stages. 1: Pre-development, 2: Development and 3: Post-development.

Table 6 Identified obstacles in EA development categorised based on cases and the development stages

Appendix 5

Fig. 5
figure5

Lack of support inside organization

Fig. 6
figure6

Lack of knowledge inside organizations

Fig. 7
figure7

Issues imposed by external parties

Fig. 8
figure8

Lack of communication and collaboration

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Banaeianjahromi, N., Smolander, K. Lack of Communication and Collaboration in Enterprise Architecture Development. Inf Syst Front 21, 877–908 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10796-017-9779-6

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Keywords

  • Enterprise architecture
  • Enterprise architecture development
  • Obstacles
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Grounded theory
  • Large enterprises