Enterprise architecture refers to the description of an organization’s processes, components and policies. It describes the operation and structure of the firm (Owen, 2012). The major aim of enterprise architecture is to establish the most appropriate means through which the organization can meet its current and projected objectives. The strategic business objectives inform the requirements that the enterprise architecture should meet. It then establishes the baseline model relationship between IT and the business through its operation model. The enterprise architecture is comprised of the business, technology, information and application perspectives, which discharge different tasks. The business process stipulates the process and standards which guide the daily operation of the business. The application perspective describes the interaction between the organization’s processes and standards. The information perspective undertakes the interpretation and grouping of the raw data by sorting document files, presentations and databases that are necessary for the effective functioning of the business. The technology perspective establishes the technology infrastructure, such as the operating systems, hardware, networking solutions and programming, that the business uses.
The enterprise architecture supplements and enables each of the System Development Life Cycle’s phases in various ways. Developers are required to follow different steps of the system development life cycle when developing systems for businesses. The enterprise architecture ensures the organizations’ compliance with steps of system development life cycle. When undertaking system implementation, it enables and supplements the phases of system development life cycle (Grance et al., 2004).
The first stage of the system development life cycle is initiation, where the business points out the needs. Since the needs vary from an organization to another, there is a need for implementation of different systems. The enterprise architecture enables the identification of the needs, current and future objectives and processes that need change or improvement in the organization. The enterprise architecture supplements the system development life cycle in the initiation phase because of its ability to enable developers to evaluate whether the needs of the organization are alined well with the enterprise architecture. The developers ensure that the preliminary enterprise architecture review does not contain any duplication or contradiction.
When the developers identify the need to develop or change the system, they document it, marking the beginning of the requirements analysis phase. A feasibility study is conducted on the documented need with the aim of reviewing various approaches that developers can employ to aid the process of meeting the need. The developers select and approve the approach and ensure availability of funds to finance this phase. An enterprise architecture provides a variety of flexible documentation options that can be utilized in the documentation of business needs, supplementing the requirement analysis phase. The creation of a plan follows after definition and allocation of resources to the project. The plan outlines the approach and resources that will be employed to solve the identified problem. The requirement analysis phase then allows definition of the functional user requirements for the organization, which are outlined in the functional requirements document.
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The third phase is the initiation, which involves designing the physical features of the system, creation of sub-systems and operating environment, description of inputs and outputs and documentation of elements that need user input. In this phase, managers allocate resources to finance the identified processes. This stage also allows users to review the documented requirements. The identification of the system’s internal features, creation and the users’ approval of the detailed design are carried out at this phase. The developers use the identified systems to design a detailed system structure. The managers officially review the advanced architectural design and later conduct a detailed system design. The review by the management aims at ensuring design compliance with the system requirements and conformance to the enterprise design standards and architecture. In this case, the enterprise architecture supplements the system development life cycle’s design phase.
The fourth step is the identification phase which involves conversion of the specifications established during the internal design to excitable software. The developers then unite, test and integrate the software to identify if it has any weaknesses. Assemblling and testing of the software is also conducted at this stage. The testing of the software and hardware has two aims. One is determining if the approved change requests comply with the standards of the technical reference model and and another is ensuring that the change requests agreed do not cause adverse effects on dependencies on other systems. A unique feature with the enterprise architecture is its ability to allow testing of various parts of the system, hence, development of systems that meet not only organizational and customer requirements, but also enterprise architectural standards.
The fifth step is the test phase, where developers conduct the entire testing including security, user acceptance, system testing and integration testing of the system’s sub-systems. The quality assurance organization and the users confirm that the developed system meets the functional requirements identified. The enterprise architecture has the unique feature of enabling the development of codes using different languages and testing of the hardware and software.
The implementation phase follows the testing and acceptance of the system by the users, and it involves the installation of system changes and allows the business to start using the system. The phase continues until the users confirm that the system meets all the standards and requirements. The system is then monitored continuously to ensure it is free of weaknesses and consistent with meeting user requirements. Any problem identified is corrected. The developers then evaluate whether the operation of the system is in accordance with the enterprise guidelines, after which the developer protects important information regarding the system for future reference. They also ensure that any elements that depend on the old system have expired or are replaced (Kissel et al., 2008).
The enterprise architecture contributes many capabilities that an organization may, otherwise, not have. First is the improvement in the organization’s decision making. The enterprise architecture repository provides information that helps leaders to make decisions. It also eradicates inefficient processes in the organization and increases asset use in the business. It facilitates the designing of new business models and the organizations’ adaptability to the changes in market demands (Wagter et al., 2005).
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