What is the ROI on EA?

Nick Malik took me to task for my suggestion that Enterprise Architecture provides no value.

You implied that I could not answer the question, “How does EA demonstrate value.” That is not true. I can readily answer the question, from my viewpoint, but I chose instead to *ask* the question to see if my answer matches the various answers that I may hear back. I got a lot of valuable input, both on the blog and on the forum on Shared Insights where I asked the same question.

You are the ONLY person to reply and say that EA provides no value.

Perhaps you should read about the role and value of Enterprise Architecture from established sources before you bash the entire profession.

EA is real, my friend. It is as real as city planning. The only major city in the US without city planning is Houston. I have visited a few times, and I can honestly say that without city planning, they are a mess.

Nick also provided a link to an article in Architecture and Governance magazine. I was going to read it, however their web site is down as I write this. I feel comfortable interpreting that as a sign that I’m right… 😄

Actually, Nick’s got a point. It was wholly unfair of me to say that EA provides no value. However, I do believe the return on investment of enterprise architecture is fairly low, perhaps even negative. In other words, I shouldn’t have argued that EA doesn’t deliver any value, but instead that I don’t think it delivers enough value, given what we spend on it.

Architecture ROI is hard enough to calculate on a project by project basis. I would argue that measuring it at the EA level is probably impossible, but I think that’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because EA can’t justify their existence in terms the business can understand. It’s a blessing because if EA is running as deep in the red as I suspect they might be, the company would cut EA entirely in a heartbeat.

Since Nick started my asking a question about value, let me turn it around and ask some questions of my own:

  1. How much do you think your organization spends on EA per year?
  2. What do you think your organization’s EA ROI is?
  3. What can you do to improve your organization’s EA ROI?


It would be good if you demonstrated you understood EA before you criticized it. It would also be good if you differentiated the way EA is practiced from what EA is -- two different things. I certainly hope you're not just another blogger mouthing off about stuff they know nothing about. So many times we see something like DBAs mucking up most development efforts and jump to the conlusion that data modeling is bogus, or something just as stupid. I tried to discuss modeling in general just today -- you might find my post interesting. Maybe not. I only teach this stuff. What do I know? http://www.whattofix.com/blog/archives/2008/03/explaining_mode.php