There is a debate fuming across companies worldwide-- where to organizationally structure the Enterprise Architecture (EA) team? IT makes a compelling case that they enable the capabilities to support the business through systems, information, and tools and therefore should own the EA group. Business makes a compelling case because they are the reason the company even exists in the first place, and they know the business processes, business capabilities, and business models-- they don't see any reason they shouldn't control EA.
So, who gets EA-- the CIO or VP of a Business? I argue neither! After all, a typical EA goal is to connect the Business and IT together to impart better structure and visibility across the enterprise. I firmly believe that neither should own EA so that neither imparts too much of their organization (i.e bias) on the EA process and deliverables. EA needs to be independent, and it's for all the right reasons.
Companies need to seriously consider organizationally aligning EA into a group that is independent of both IT and Business. The easiest way to do this is to let the COO own EA and let his group facilitate the collaboration between IT, Business, and EA group too. The COO already has been assigned corporate responsibility for governance, operations, company performance, prioritizing organizational requirements. This sounds like a natural fit for Enterprise Architecture to me.
Wait, you don't have a COO? Now's the time to create one! If that's a tough sell to your CEO, then I still recommend keeping EA outside the groups its supposed to connect, namely IT and Business. You could do a stop gap an align EA in IT department like most organizations do today...but you've now lost your independence, and even worse, credibility with the business. There's already enough distrust, why create more? With such an approach it's really easy to impart a bias, even worse a political opinion or even a resentment too. Anyone whose worked in corporate world knows this all too well. EA is chartered to break-down these silo's, tear down walls, and build bridges across the organization. With the wrong organizational alignment, it could be the cause for divide. We don't want EA to be the corporate joke punchline, and the only way to prevent this is keep the EA team at arms length, by putting it in a separate team, with separate alignment. And, this applies to SOA as well. After all, the SOA and EA team should already be in the same team, a topic I'll address in another blog entry.