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Enterprise Architecture in the Agile Era: Less Policing, More Coaching

Updated: Apr 9, 2022

Who says EA is too rigid for transformation? Modern agile enterprise architects start small, deliver value quickly, and collaborate with product teams.

When Adrian Jones became the sole enterprise architect for fast growing diagnostics giant SYNLAB in 2018 he knew the traditional, bureaucratic approach to EA he had seen in the past wouldn’t work.

Jones, SYNLAB’s group head of enterprise architecture, needed to quickly gather and analyze enough information to deploy new systems across hundreds of sites and more than 20,000 employees in 40 countries, and to digitize services such as lab tests to make them much easier for its customers to access.

Within 15 months, half the time Jones reckons a traditional EA process would have taken, insights from SYNLAB’s EA effort are helping the €2.6 billion company better manage its application and technical risk and to assess its technical debt (the cost of pending work required to maintain its applications and IT infrastructure). EA insights also helped SYNLAB roll out new services such as a COVID testing program to help the European football league safely return to play, says Jones.

This is enterprise architecture in the age of agile. Rather than spend months or years modeling and cataloguing a business’ technology and business processes in an often-futile attempt to enforce product standards, agile EA practitioners and vendors seek to work more closely with teams developing “products” such as applications for employees or customers. They try to deliver value quickly, work closely with product teams, and develop architectural principles rather than an inflexible list of platforms product developers are permitted to use.

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