Value of EA on IT projects paper published!

I’m happy to announce that my paper “Measuring the value of Enterprise Architecture on IT projects with CHAOS Research” has been published in the Journal on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (JSCI) Volume 15 – Number 7 – Year 2017, pp. 13-18 ! This paper summarizes the research I’ve done together with Jim Johnson of The Standish Group for my master’s thesis for the program of Enterprise IT Architecture at the Antwerp Management School.

You can read the whole paper online here: It’s only 6 pages, with more than 3 pages full of graphs, so it’s a rather quick read.

TL;DR: The value of our research is that we’ve found empirical evidence that IT projects are more successful when organizations have an EA.

A remark I hear often though is “The value of EA seems rather small with these results [and contradicts what’s commonly said about the value of EA]”. Let’s explore that a bit:

Firstly we’ve not looked into the value of EA as a whole. We’ve looked into the value of EA on IT projects. We had to scope the research, otherwise it would be too broad & difficult to measure, as EA provides benefits on a wide range of domains and levels. So this is just a subset of the value of EA.

Secondly, research done by The Standish Group has already proven that the success of IT projects is mostly influenced by

  • the project size,
  • project methodology,
  • experience of the project sponsor,
  • emotional maturity of the organization,
  • and the skill level of the delivery team.

To put things into perspective; if, hypothetically, projects would be 100% successful after the introduction of EA, this would mean that EA would solely be responsible for the success of an IT project (and the previously mentioned succes indicators would not). It would be absurd to even think this would be possible, certainly if you know that EA has the most effect on the design phase of a project, not the implementation phase. In that perspective, the average increase of 14% of successful projects (when measured by timeliness, budget adherence & satisfaction) is rather as expected. Certainly if you know that common waterfall project methodologies as PRINCE2 have a detrimental effect to project success. If you want to know more about the general success factors for IT projects, I recommend to order the latest CHAOS report of The Standish Group.

Thirdly, we have not researched what the client meant when saying that the organization has an EA. For example, we did not ask if they were using an EA framework (and hence also didn’t ask which). It could be that a certain EA approach/methodology has more success then othersWe also did not measure the form/maturity/quality of the EA practice. These would be interesting questions to ask in follow-up research, as these would also answer the age-old questions “which EA framework has the most value” & “how to best implement/approach EA”.

Fourthly, the value of EA on IT projects increases as the size of the project grows (with projects with a budget of $10 million or more as an exception to this “rule”). As the project size increases, the budget also increases, which means that the increase of success by EA has an even greater financial benefit.

I think the most important conclusion and takeaway is that we finally have empirical evidence for the value of EA, albeit only scoped to the value for IT projects.

If you have other remarks or questions regarding our research, I’ll gladly answer them – just leave your comments below.

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