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The Contribution of Sustainable Enterprise Architecture

The enterprises thriving tomorrow are practicing sustainable Enterprise Architecture (EA) today. How do the various layers of Enterprise Architecture contribute to sustainability?

What is the meaning of sustainability?

Sustainability is the ability to continue to live or operate. A sustainable enterprise is robust, able to endure the disruptive forces of a changing world, all the while not depleting the very resources it needs to survive, including human and material. Lasting health is not limited to resiliency and optimization within the system, but consists of taking a holistic view, for a durable balance with an evolving environment. Beyond financial success, risk management, and regulatory compliance, sustainability means adopting the highest ethical standards and demonstrating integrity with regard to society, economics, and the environment.

How does Enterprise Architecture contribute to sustainable development?

Instead of falling into Business As Usual, applying EA fundamentals, such as Business Process Analysis and IT architecture, boosts preparedness and progress towards achieving a sustainable enterprise. A responsible company, with responsible architecture, integrates Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into each architectural level: strategy and decision making; organizational processes, including logistics, and work environments; IT portfolio management; and information systems conception and projects.

Practicing enterprise architecture accompanies transformation by bringing the necessary visibility to the organization, exposing improvement opportunities, and formalizing the initiatives.

Sustainable Business Architecture

The business management starting point is the value-oriented capability map showing the purpose of the organization and expected outcomes for clients. This does not mean adding a "Sustainability" capacity but that each objective takes it into account. The value chains of operations and the information system serve this company strategy, fostering a sustainable purpose and behaviors as a part of the company culture. An absence of vision generates waste, bad practices, and eventual failure.

Governance, processes, and policies are used to communicate on best methods and may be capitalized in a sustainability report. Examples: due diligence, materials life cycle management, procurement, IT security, whistleblower procedures, and data storage optimization. Value stream mapping allows supporting a lifecycle perspective, like integrating decommissioning machines as a part of the project offboarding process.

Sustainable IT Portfolio Management

How can we rationalize the IT used by our business? Optimizing the information system requires awareness of the existing state of deployments and usages, through inventory. Regarding IT portfolio evaluation, prioritizing may not only rely on costs criteria or technological reliability but also put importance on business value, optimized functional coverage, as well as Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) investment criteria. When integrating associated risk in the decision-making, the company considers vendors’ CSR values and sustainability ratings, the environmental impact of applications and technologies, and the deployment of cloud solutions increasingly relying on clean energy.

Sustainable Application Architecture

Here we are conceiving the IT on which reposes our activities. Incorporating sobriety into IT projects and product design reduces digital pollution through Green IT and eco-conception. It streamlines and modernizes the information system from its inception to its exploitation.

  • Apply customer value orientation: Everything unessential, not adding real business value should neither be developed nor delivered. This is applicable to both the visible user interface as well as the core platform. Several studies - Cast Software and Standish Group - show that 70% of the functionalities requested by users are not essential and that 45% are never used. A planning and collaborative environment like Agile DevOps allows to trace business requirements, to be centered on the primary needs, and avoid developing superfluous features.

  • Promulgate design principles for better resource optimization and code performance.

  • Move towards application architectures demanding less power and space. Implement solutions allowing modular approaches and multi-tenancy to mutualize infrastructures.

  • Use web APIs to exchange only the necessary information.

The enterprises thriving tomorrow are practicing sustainable EA today

A better tomorrow requires adaptation, rethinking, and renovating habits, methods, and technologies. Enterprise Architecture can develop the learning capabilities of an organization to coevolve with its environment.Enterprise architecture supports CSR transformation initiatives, federating around common goals to raise awareness amongst risk managers, architects, project managers, application owners, quality and process improvement teams, and the executive board.

CSR threads through an organization’s strategy and processes, through integrating profitability, risk, and impact in IT Portfolio Management, and through an intentional design of the IT system. Flourishing sustainable enterprises strike a balance between what is best for the clients, the company, and the future. They use the transformation towards enterprise sustainability as a source of vitality, innovation, and inspiration. They reap the added benefits of more efficiency, higher quality products and services, and a better image among both customers and employees.

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(See the full article here: MEGA)


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