Connecting Enterprise Architecture and Project Portfolio Management: A Review and a Model for IT Project Alignment

Connecting Enterprise Architecture and Project Portfolio Management: A Review and a Model for IT Project Alignment

Christof Gellweiler (WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management, Vallendar, Germany)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJITPM.2020010106
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Enterprise architecture (EA) and project portfolio management (PPM) are key areas when it comes to connecting enterprise strategy and information technology (IT) projects. Both management disciplines enhance business capabilities, integrate skilled resources, and govern affiliated processes and functions. A skillful comprehension of the links between these managerial areas is essential for effective IT planning. This article elaborates on the common grounds and structural attachment of EA and PPM, showing the substantiated relations between them and demonstrating their cohesiveness. From strategic planning to solution delivery, a conceptual model for IT project alignment integrates these IT management disciplines over two levels. EA ascertains the technical goals and constraints, whereas PPM determines the organizational goals and constraints. The results from both sides are combined to jointly propose, select, prioritize, and schedule IT projects. Roadmapping is a suitable approach to bring EA and PPM together.
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Information technology (IT) increases a company’s competitive advantage by lowering costs and/or by differentiating from rivals (Porter, 1985, pp. 166–172). Enterprises must build and constantly enhance their IT capabilities to survive in the marketplace. Since the late 1970s, the planning of IT capabilities has been strategically significant; indeed, IT planning strives to merge project planning with strategic business planning (Robson, 1997, pp. 100–101). Yet, the mechanisms regarding how IT is strategically aligned to business are still unclear in practice and are subject to numerous theoretical discussions, particularly the alignment of IT and business dominate diverse academic considerations that take various notions, such as fit, linkage, integration, or bridge (Ullah & Lai, 2013). Business-IT alignment is defined in many ways and has been discussed for three decades (Chan & Reich, 2007). This alignment phenomenon is still of growing relevance, and researchers have proposed a great deal of tools, methods, and techniques (Aversano, Grasso, & Tortorella, 2012, p. 162). However, the roles and functions in the enterprise IT area are confusing and inconsistent because there is no authoritative source that defines the knowledge across the whole enterprise (IEEE & ACM, 2018). This article illuminates enterprise architecture (EA) and project portfolio management (PPM) functions and according managerial roles that perform and coordinate strategic IT planning activities.

Definitions and standards for EA have been inconsistent for more than 35 years (Halawi, 2018, p. 1). EA is viewed, on the one hand, as an IT topic, and on the other hand, it is seen as a business model and strategy subject, particularly in the management literature (Syynimaa, 2018). The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) presents EA as a generic methodology, but the descriptions of EA skills clearly stress IT competencies (The Open Group, 2018, pp. 470–471). In real life, EA almost always includes IT (Walrad et al., 2014, p. 43). EA creates links between business architectures and IT architectures and verifies their integrity (Helfert, Doucek, & Maryska, 2013, p. 73); it also identifies business processes, applications, data, and technology (Strano & Rehmani, 2007, p. 392) and is a means for organizational change (Sousa et al., 2011). Indeed, EA supports executives regarding optimal strategy, providing the direction on what is needed to achieve the business goals.

PPM is embedded in the organization’s overall strategy to accomplish objectives and realize the strategies of an enterprise (PMI, 2013, pp. 5–7). These objectives concern all the primary and support activities of an enterprise’s value chain, including IT “since every value activity creates and uses information” (Porter, 1985, p. 168). PPM takes a holistic view, covering all organizational changes, and every organizational change affects IT. Effective PPM increases the business value from investments (PMI, 2013, p. 10). A portfolio represents the total investments for strategic change initiatives (Axelos, 2014, p. 2). PPM allocates budgets assets, and human resources to projects based on strategic analyses and choices. Projects denote investments (Axelos, 2014, p. 3) in strategic change initiatives to build or extend capabilities and assets to gain a competitive advantage.

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