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Enterprise Architecture June 27, 2012

Posted by brltkd in Enterprise Architecture.

Companies are always interested in ways to grow their business and overall create a better product for their customers. The business needs to be able to respond to changes in areas such as market forces, the economic climate, and regulatory requirements. This is easier to achieve when all aspects of the business are working together towards a common goal. One method to guide the organization through these changes is to develop an enterprise architecture.

“Enterprise architecture is the process of translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communicating, and improving the key requirements, principles, and models that describe the enterprise’s future state and enable its evolution” (Lapkin, et al., 2008). This definition of enterprise architecture reflects concepts that essentially every business wants to maximize. However, creating an enterprise architecture for an existing organization may be a daunting task.

Companies are grown incrementally. “When entrepreneurs first sit down to hammer out the business plan for a new venture, they would never dare to have the hubris to architect an organization large enough to be considered an enterprise” (Bloomberg, 2011). Instead they start with the systems and processes they need to run the company. Then, over time, additional systems and procedures are created as needs arise. This can create a patchwork of disparate systems and processes that may be inefficient or redundant. The goal of the enterprise architecture is unify and integrate these business processes and the data.

Fortunately many of the concepts within enterprise architecture are logical points that business may gravitate towards even without establishing an enterprise architecture. We have not established an enterprise architecture at my organization. However our medical records system employees many of its techniques. The primary business function is to provide health care to patients. All aspects of the system are designed to support that goal. It’s based on a single repository of data so the information is available across the enterprise. The same data source is used for both patient care and business functions like financials. As an academic medical center, research is critical. Data warehouses driven by this information are used to support that function.

The system is also built modularly which provides great flexibility. There is a myriad of laws and regulations that we must comply with in healthcare. Meaningful Use is one of the most recent regulations that we have to comply with. One of the required core measures established for stage one is the ability to electronically exchange information with at least one other organization (Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2011). We implemented a new module which integrates this capability into the standard workflows in most of our clinics. Our agility enabled us to meet this and nineteen other objectives making us part of a minority of hospitals that qualified for Meaningful Use in the first year (Terry, 2011).

These are examples of how technology supports the business vision and how its flexibility can enable rapid change. However, true enterprise architecture goes far beyond the technology infrastructure. “The scope of the enterprise architecture includes people, processes, information and technology of the enterprise” (Lapkin, et al., 2008).

Enterprise architecture really needs to look across the whole organization. It establishes a plan to ensure everyone is working to advance the businesses strategic goals. As I illustrated earlier, some areas may already be using elements of enterprise architecture. “If some group is already architecting within a constituency, then the enterprise architecture focus should be on interfaces or connections, or dependencies between that constituency and other with which it must work” (Robertson, 2009). Rather than working in silos, the enterprise architecture enables cross-divisional collaboration. It needs to take advantage of the architecture already developed and validate they align with the business vision. Then these resources can be shared which ultimately leads to a more efficient business.

Enterprise architecture describes the organization’s desired state and guides it toward that goal. However we must remember that a business is never static. As the company approaches the defined goal, the enterprise architecture itself must be flexible and adjust to allow continued growth. This planning helps the organization embrace changes and adapt to the challenges it encounters.

Works Cited

Bloomberg, J. (2011, April 5). Why Nobody is Doing Enterprise Architecture. Retrieved June 25, 2012, from zapthink.com: http://www.zapthink.com/2011/04/05/why-nobody-is-doing-enterprise-architecture/

Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2011). Eligible Professional Meaningful Use Core Measures Measure 14 of 15 Stage 1. Washington DC: Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Lapkin, A., Allega, P., Burke, B., Burton, B., Bittler, R. S., Handler, R. A., et al. (2008). Gartner Clarifies the Definition of the Term. Stamford: Gartner, Inc.

Robertson, B. (2009). Why Do Enterprise Architecture? Stamford: Gartner, Inc.

Terry, K. (2011, October 24). Hospitals Move Slowly on Meaningful Use. Retrieved June 25, 2012, from http://www.informationweek.com: http://www.informationweek.com/news/healthcare/EMR/231901531





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