MIS Quarterly Executive


The Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) health care system was once considered one of the worst in the United States. For many veterans, it was the last resort. In the early 1990s, in fact, its system had deteriorated so much that Congress considered disbanding it. However, since then, it has undergone a dramatic transformation and is now considered one of the best health care systems in the nation and a leader in almost every health care performance metric.We conducted an in-depth investigation of the VHA for about a year to understand its dramatic turnaround. We found that information technology (IT) played a key role. In particular, we found that by increasing the maturity of its enterprise architecture, the VHA achieved a high degree of integration and standardization in its business processes, which helped it transform its operations.Based on our study of the VHA, we postulate six catalysts for successfully evolving enterprise architecture maturity: (1) formulate a strategic vision for enterprise architecture and gain long-term commitment from top management; (2) involve central and local groups; (3) take an evolutionary, rather than a revolutionary, approach; (4) have a strategy for supporting IT systems and business processes; (5) require local accountability for implementing global objectives; and (6) implement an effective performance management program. Once an enterprise architecture is mature, it can be used for strategic advantage.