The term "enterprise architecture" refers to the underpinning of a complete, end-to-end supply chain, according to Roddy Martin, senior vice president of global supply chain with CCI. Unfortunately, he notes, it has long been interpreted strictly as an information-technology initiative. "It has been hijacked by the technology community," he says. On the contrary, true enterprise architecture embraces systems, processes and the whole structure of the business.
A select number of leading companies are doing a good job of managing their supply chains from the perspective of enterprise architecture. Martin cites Procter & Gamble and Samsung as prime examples. P&G, he says, takes a high-level, strategic view of its supply chain, in which issues are emphasized instead of processes.
When addressing the concept of enterprise architecture, it's easy to step wrong from the beginning. "It starts with who's leading it," says Martin. "The most fundamental requirement is that somebody from the business or supply chain needs to take the lead and communicate the value proposition." Too often, he says, companies rush into buying a tool that attempts to map and model the supply chain, yet they do nothing with the results. "You end up drawing pictures rather than the way the business really operates."
Who should actually spearhead the process? Martin says it can be any number of individuals, preferably a business relationship specialist or someone who sits between the organization's supply-chain process capability and the IT group. "Then it gets seen as an enabler of how the business operates," he says.
Leaders in enterprise architecture are those that tie their projects to measurable value and the delivery of improved capabilities. Initial goals should be short-term in nature, yielding "real business benefits." In addition, the effort must be visible at the senior leadership level. A chief supply chain officer can shepherd an initiative that will prove itself at multiple levels of the organization. "If you get referred to IT, you can be relatively sure that it's been turned into an IT-driven initiative," says Martin. In such cases, the effort is failing to embody all processes and practices. "Leaders have a more advanced, business-driven approach to enterprise architecture."
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