A silo is by definition restrictive. Literal silos keep grain or other loose objects from spilling out into the world. And they restrict access.
In the business world, a silo is often a bad thing. It means one department isn’t communicating with another. And each department would rather work on their own than work with others.
Siloed departments can be toxic. They often end in turf wars and possible terminations.
You don’t want your agency or business to fall into the silo trap. But how do you get departments to work together?
Simple, enterprise architecture. This is the study and implementation of how to execute business strategies. And you can hire enterprise architects to help keep your organization from getting siloed.
Here’s how that works.
1. There Are Four Types of Enterprise Architecture
Business architecture is a near ancient art. We’ve had years to perfect and categorize the many different types of possible organizational structures. And as internet technology entered the scene, it changed how we approach business organization.
Here are the four types:
The Zachman Framework
Change is difficult for any business. But it’s especially difficult for enterprises who have “done it this way” for a long time.
Often organizations like these are the most siloed of all. Nobody at the top understands how the various departments below them work. And nobody in those departments understand how the other departments work.
The Zachman Framework is a way of classifying the structure of the organization. It takes the existing organizational functions and applies them in such a way as to facilitate change by helping departments network.
This framework asks six specific questions of an organization:
- What is the business information or data?
- How does the business function?
- Where does the business operate?
- Who are those that run the business and what’s their hierarchy?
- Why did the organization choose the solution they choose?
It asks these questions of each stakeholder in the company or the project. And then uses a graph to organize all the data.
The Open Group Architectural Framework
This framework specifically looks at IT frameworks between departments. It facilitates communication between departments by makings sure everyone speaks a common language or uses similar lingo.
It also creates an open architecture within a business. It ensures that no one department chooses a proprietary software or networking solution only said department uses. This saves time and creates a way to utilize all available resources.
It’s possibly the broadest of all frameworks.
The Federal Enterprise Framework
It’s all in the name. The Federal Enterprise Framework was designed to create cross-agency work easier within the federal government.
This framework separates federal operations into six categories. Strategy, business, applications, data, security, and infrastructure.
It’s the best parts of both the Open Group Architectural Framework and the Zachman Framework. This framework was instrumental in re-organizing government back in 2006. But it’s an architecture you can use to reorganize your own company.
The Gartner NOTFramework
Adaptation is the underlying philosophy of the Gartner. Created by a company of the same name, it’s meant to help companies constantly adapt to the everchanging world around them.
2. How Enterprise Architecture Works
The big picture is an enterprise architect’s goal. They’re like Elon Musk.
Elon took a risk when he founded Tesla. Electric cars were just hype back then. And he’s lost money on his investment. But Tesla is still rolling out cars.
Because Telsa’s goal isn’t immediate money, but long-term sustainable transport. Long term sustainable transport is the future. When the oil dries up, what are you going to drive? An electric vehicle, no doubt. Thus, Elon’s vision is alway future-bound.
It’s why the man is building rockets pointed at Mars and creating satellite networks capable of feeding the entire world internet access.
Elon’s goal and an enterprise architect’s goals are the same. Driving innovation for future profitability.
To be innovative and avoid utter failure, you must identify the risks. You essentially bridge the gap between IT and business roles.
An architect must possess an array of skills. This means understanding network administration, cloud architecture, and traditional business systems for administration to name a few.
The most important skill for any enterprise architect is strategic thinking. This means being able to negotiate with both technical people in IT and business managers at all levels.
You can’t assume everyone understands technical lingo. Because if the manager of the project doesn’t get why his deadline is getting pushed back, he’ll be fairly upset. But if you can translate what’s happening into language they can understand, you’ll avoid conflict (a major aspect of an architect’s job description.)
What Tools Do Enterprise Architects Use?
As an enterprise architect, you’ll use basic software to communicate your plan. This means spreadsheets and presentation software. But other popular software solutions include Orbus Software, Sparx Systems, Software AG, et.
3. What Does Bad Architecture Look Like?
Not all architects are good at solving the problems they encounter. In fact, they sometimes create problems for themselves. Here are a few ways that happens:
If one department solves a problem, it’s doubly efficient if another department solves the same problem, right? Wrong. It’s inefficient.
Some companies see redundancy as a great thing. And with some applications, it can be. But when you’re wasting resources because you failed to communicate between departments and created the same systems in each for the exact same purpose, you might be failing at enterprise architecture.
Redundancy Leads To Too Many Interfaces
When you create too many interfaces, your structure weakens. You end up managing the interfaces the entire time. You could instead be creating more functionality within your system.
Avoid the silo trap. Hire an architect to manage your biggest projects or to restructure your entire enterprise.