Architecture Comment

Stakeholders are the Key

Stakeholders are the key to successful enterprise architecture. One of the first things that you have to do in any architectural endeavour is decide who are your stakeholders and which of them are the most important. There are many methods and articles about doing this so pick one that you find enjoyable. This article isn’t about that, it’s about the philosophical approach you need for successful enterprise architecture.

All of your stakeholders both need and supply architectural information. All of them have criteria for success. The information that your stakeholders supply (the requirements) should help to shape your architecture. It is important that you understand their needs/requirements and success criteria. Be warned that many stakeholders have no idea how to describe their success criteria.

Some of your stakeholders have skills that will be used to build your architecture. If you understand the skills and limits of the stakeholders, including yourself, you can perform a Gap Analysis that will tell you what specialists you need. Those specialists also become stakeholders.

There will probably be a huge amount of information about what the architecture needs to achieve. That information will shape your architecture. In return, your architecture work will create a huge amount of new information — documents, drawings, files, specifications, etc. — that describe your design/architecture.

All of your stakeholders want information. Some stakeholders want information so that they can build the system. Others want information so that they have confidence in what is being built, know how much it will cost, and so on. Some stakeholders will only want information from other stakeholders.

Every stakeholder is different so they all need different Views of the architecture. Each of the Views will be a selection of information from the documents, drawings, files, specifications, etc.

In the world of traditional architecture, an architect’s plans can be used without ever meeting them. The result can be a beautiful building. As an enterprise architect, your goal should be the same — the builders of your design (the stakeholders) should be able to examine your Views and architecture without ever meeting you to create a successful enterprise.