You are currently viewing Enterprise Architecture: IT Engagement Model

Enterprise Architecture: IT Engagement Model

Ralph’s Ribs IT Engagement Model Recommendations

As Ralph’s begins to build their foundation one project at a time it will be important for them to define their IT engagement model. An IT engagement model is a “system of governance mechanisms assuring that business and IT projects achieve both local and company-wide objectives.” (Ross, Weill, and Robertson, 2006) The IT engagement model ties together three branches of business; company, business unit, and project team, and organize their efforts into one common goal.

There are three main components in a successful IT engagement model; companywide IT governance, project management and linking mechanisms. A closer look at these components will reveal how they tie together to achieve companywide objectives.

Companywide IT Governance

Companywide IT governance is essential to the success of the IT engagement model. IT governance overlooks the entire organization. It blends business requirements together with IT capabilities in a way that allows each unit to reach performance goals in a way that meets or exceeds corporate expectations. IT governance should be thought of as part of an overall effort. Instead of being a separate entity, IT governance is integrated throughout all branches of the corporation. (Ross, Weill, and Robertson, 2006)

Ross, Weill and Robertson (2006) point out that, “IT governance encompasses five major decision areas related to the management and use of IT in a firm.” These decision areas include IT principles, enterprise architecture, IT infrastructure, and business application needs. Decisions made through IT governance also include prioritization and investment. By utilizing IT governance in all areas, a company is able to clarify the need for shared services, define project priorities and funding levels, and establish the standardization and integration requirements set forth through the operating model. (Ross, Weill, and Robertson, 2006)

Project Management

“Project management has emerged as a critical competence in many, if not most, companies.” (Ross, Weill, and Robertson, 2006) Project management uses proven methodologies to define what needs to be delivered from the new process, and sets up checkpoints (gates) along the way to access metrics that evaluate progress. Post-implementation reviews are often used as tools to improve project management skills and to review the company’s methodology. ((Ross, Weill, and Robertson, 2006)

Effective project management requires both discipline and commitment. Each project must be subjected to the same governance measures as it cycles through the natural project life-cycle. Scorecards and metrics must be applied for every project, and reviews must be structured to guarantee adherence with corporate strategy. Communication is a third essential in effective project management. IT and business must communicate effectively so needs throughout the company can be translated into successful project implementation. (Ross, Weill, and Robertson, 2006)

Linking Mechanisms

Effective IT governance and disciplined project management are not enough; a company also needs linking mechanisms to achieve true success. Linking mechanisms are the tie between project management and IT governance. According to Ross, Weill, and Robertson (2006):

Good IT governance ensures that there’s clear direction on how to evolve the company’s foundation. Good project management ensures that projects are implemented effectively, efficiently and in a consistent manner to maximize learning. Good linking mechanisms ensure that projects incrementally build the company’s foundation and that the design of the company’s foundation (its operating model and enterprise architecture) is informed by projects. (Ross, Weill, and Robertson, 2006)

Three types of linking mechanisms must be used for any engagement model. Architecture linkage is used for creating standards and updating as necessary. Architecture also evaluates projects for compliance and connects IT governance with project decision. Business architecture translates companywide goals into project goals while maintaining architectural standards. Alignment linkage mechanisms are used to ensure lines of communication between IT and business remain open at all times. (Ross, Weill, and Robertson, 2006)

Effects on Business Partner Communication

In all stages of implementing enterprise architecture, communication is vitally important. Just as all departments within the corporation must communicate to establish needs, define standards, and exceed project goals, the company must continue to communicate effectively with business partners. Innovation can come from anywhere, and encouraging business partners to freely discuss their concerns and needs can help Ralph’s reach their architecture objectives.

Rationale for Recommendations

There are a number of reasons for adopting an engagement model, but perhaps the most important is clarity about who will make the decisions and who will be held accountable in achieving successful results. According to Ross, Weill, and Robertson (2006), “engagement model ingredients reinforce desirable behavior to create a foundation for execution one project at a time.”

Since effective IT governance leads to efficient project management while linkage mechanisms keep everything tied together, this is a solid move for Ralph’s Ribs. One project at a time is the goal for Ralph’s Ribs, so adopting an effective engagement model is essential to the successful implementation of new enterprise architecture.


Ross, J., Weill, P., & Robertson, D. (2006). Enterprise architecture as strategy. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press.