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Crafting SharePoint Projects within Enterprise Architecture Parameters

Shooting the rapids of so-called Enterprise Architecture (EA) requires a dextrous handle on the rudder, fortitude and solid attention to the simple objective of getting to the banks on the other side. Looking for much more maybe asking too much, but we still think it’s worth the look. Here’s why:

First let’s gauge the depth of the obstacles. Just consider the fact that the definition of EA, itself, is not clear. Educational institutions like MIT, & Carnegie Mellon do not proceed, in lock step, along the same EA path. For MIT, the definition of Enterprise Architecture quite clearly dictates that IT processes along with business processes, must take direction from a business’ “operating model”. In contrast, Carnegie Mellon provides an SEI definition of Enterprise Architecture with no mention of a business whatsoever, let alone an “operating model”.

Research on the EA topic bears out the very high level of opacity that shields EA from clarity for enterprise business. Consider the results of a July, 2011 Gartner Group study on Failed Enterprise Architecture Projects, you will find that over 50% of businesses that participated in the study never reached their objectives. So, if you head up IS or IT at an enterprise class business, then why “go there” with your SharePoint project, framing it for conformance with EA?

Despite the opacity of EA, and the dismal track record of success, it still makes sense to frame SharePoint plans around EA. We think it’s entirely safe to build your plan around the MIT definition of EA. Make sure to quantify in dollars and cents how your plan conforms, entirely with business performance objectives. Don’t forget to define governance in a manner that empowers your team with the rights to administer the SharePoint implementation and the finalized farm(s) and subsites. The fact is that framing plans around verified Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will provide you with the best opportunity you will have to gain senior management buy-in for your plan.

Sounds simply, right? Well, it isn’t simple at all given the steps you will need to take to get the agreement of Finance, and the revenue generating groups at your enterprise to back your SharePoint plan prior to making your case. Maybe getting those buy-ins will be the toughest nut of all to crack. But you needn’t fret, the enterprise features of SharePoint just cry out for the type of cross functional cooperation and support that you are going to need to muster. Fortunately this “big app” has what you need to make your case.

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