Tag Archives: Corporate Strategy

The Architecture Crystal Ball: Predictions for 2012

I have had the opportunity to read several documents containing estimations on what the chief architects and CIOs should expect of the concept of Enterprise Architecture in 2012.

As a result I have made some thoughts of my own, and my thoughts have been delimited to what could happen in Scandinavia. There are reasons for when or where the organization should develop.

Most of the articles that I have read in order to identify the potential development of Enterprise Architecture in 2012 were developed by American organizations and my assumption is that American organizations usually apply an American approach to dealing with problems at hand, and as a result my view might differ quite a bit from the trend analysis that organizations like IBM, Gartner Incorporated, The Open Group, Microsoft or other organizations might have articulated.

Below I have defined four areas that organizations will invest their resources into.

Frameworks and Models

  • CIOs, it-management and the chief architect have discovered that it is unlikely that they will gain a total overview of all systems available in the enterprise and they will focus on developing a few key models.

  • The chief architects will continue investing time and effort into deployment of frameworks, but the chief architects would still have to mix “best of breed” from the frameworks in order to implement the enterprise architecture program.

Investments Planning and Governance

  • Medium and major organizations will begin to add their IT investments to their Enterprise Architecture models, since it is presumable that this would add value to the decision platforms.

  • The investment planning will still be focused on the IT-spending and only to some degree on how information technology takes part of add value to the business.

Technology Foresight

  • The Enterprise Architecture programs will still be IT-centric; however the structured methodology for collecting data about the enterprise architecture will provide the chief architects with the opportunity to impact the IT – strategy, and as such they could have a chance to evolve the enterprise architecture program.

  • The Enterprise Architecture programs will be used in order to define strategic approaches to what sort of technologies that make sense to invest in. As such the chief architect can gain a leading role in articulating the it-strategy. In order to do so the chief architect would enable a platform where realistic scenarios for implementing technology in order to give the decision-makers a realistic insight on what they would have to deal with.

  • The debt and credit crisis will in 2012 impact the organizations in a way that increases the demand for a smarter usage of the information systems and technology platforms available. The smarter usage of information systems demands an approach to information governance and reliable information.

Principles, Standards and Methodology

  • Organizations will find out that without principles for how to deal with different perspectives of developing their IT architecture, they will not be able to enforce the desired behavior. As a result organizations will invest more time in articulating principles.

  • EA assurance for the IT architecture will be a hot topic during 2012, and the organizations will eventually initiate projects that will focus on the articulation of principles based upon criteria like when does the principle apply, when can the developers differ from the principles, when should the principle be updated and who is responsible for updating the standard?

  • Standardization will likewise become a dominant topic, and many organizations will initiate projects that supports the development of it-projects enhances customer experience (platform independent and mobile). Management of standards are vital in order to ensure the development of these projects since it it is vital to ensure the data export of data.

Conclusion

Due to the crisis most organizations tries to reduce costs and deliver a better value proposition to its customers. Most organizations can save money through standardization of the their IT-architecture; however the decision-makers would have to know how to deal with gaining information of how the IT-architecture works, how it can be simplified (enhancing speed of development) and how it can be closer aligned with the business processes.

For this, enterprise architecture is essential and that is how I see the usage of enterprise architecture in Scandinavia in year 2012.

Week 22 Enterprise Architecture Summer Camp

This blog post deals with first day at the summer camp for Enterprise Architecture in Week 22 that was held in Denmark at the IT University of Copenhagen. The participants were mostly students. The tagline for this event is “Scandinavian Design and Oblique Angles”. The summer school had five keynotes that mainly dealt with how Enterprise Architecture could be applied under various conditions like everything from contract negotiations to Enterprise Architecture in the arctic circle to the concept of developing models for an Enterprise Architecture program.

The Agile Standard Contract

Kasper Hoegsberg, a student at the e-business line at the IT University of Copenhagen, presented his views on how the public standard contract for IT purchases could be updated.

His reasons to start investigating with standard contracts are based on that the new project models are with in the sphere agile development which is a change from the old approach to the contracts that emphasized the old waterfall model. While conducting his project he found out that the current approach for developing a contract was to fill out 10 documents before the contract could be considered value.

According to Kasper Hoegsberg the Danish National IT and Telecom Agency tried to combine the waterfall approach and the agile approach to develop a system that doesn’t seem that particular smart. Hoegsberg referred to the British DSDM – Aterm contract framework and the Norwegian agile standard contract PS-2000 as examples that in his opinion could outmatch the current approach that the Danish National IT and Telecom Agency has applied.

According to Hoegsberg the focus of the Norwegian contract doesn’t include a particular methodology and as such only includes an agile contract.

In his opinion further studies on how to make better contracts for development and delivery can be developed.

Complexity and Enterprise Architecture

Peter Flemming Teunissen Sjoelin presented some of observations he had made during the time he worked with his master thesis. The presentation had the tagline “Complexity in Development of Models for Enterprise Architecture”. In the presentation Peter Flemming Teunissen Sjoelin explained the concept of complexity, Enterprise Architecture, knowledge management and the mad scientist syndrome.

The focus that Peter Flemming Teunissen Sjoelin applied was that repositories, process models and a like are only representations of reality. The ideas presented in the presentation was based on the concept that the students and later on the future Enterprise Architects should thinking that social-constructivist paradigm might aid them with the investigation of how the various stakeholders in the enterprises thinks and acts.

  • Probe your view of the things.
  • Act upon the stakeholders suggestions.
  • Keep your models simple, you shouldn’t assume that your models or repositories can be understood by all of the stakeholders.
  • Models can’t contain reality. Models are just simplified representations of how the world works.

Value Estimation of Enterprise Architecture

Mikkel S. Holst and Tue W. Steensen works with their master thesis that deals with the value estimation of Enterprise Architecture. Their hypothesis is “How Enterprise Architecture becomes successful” and as such they base that further three hypothesis on how the Enterprise Architecture program can be aligned with the corporate strategy and corporate process.

Their theoretical approach to their master thesis has been based on Ross & Weill, Hoogervorst, Kaplan and Norton and many others.

Their master thesis includes three cases studies that the two students are conducting. Two of the case studies are within the public sector and one is the private sector.

In their approach to explore the value of Enterprise Architecture the students have made use of an article by Toomas Tamm et al. from 2011.

John Gotze advised the students to investigate how to “show the value” of the Enterprise Architecture program and how this impacts the organization. The two students plan to hand in their master thesis in August 2011.

Systems Thinking for Health – IT

The two students Linda Praestholm and Rasmus Frost have a loosely coupled approach to collaboration on the topic systems thinking in the public sector, or what is to be known as “Health – IT”.

The two students chose to work with the National Electronic Patient Journal systems and how these where implemented in the capital region of Denmark.

According to Linda Praestholm who have worked with Enterprise Architecture from a positivistic approach and she has come to conclusion that EA is a driver for making rational decisions, being more effective and effectiveness. As such these are the goals for the management and governance method for the enterprise.

Their investigation have included the Hilleroed Hospital, The Kingdom Hospital (Rigshospitalet) and Bisbebjerg Hospital. Their approach to Enterprise Architecture has mainly been based on that the various hospitals should have implemented new business processes in order to achieve some synergies with IT.

Soeren Duus advised the students to investigate what particular perspective to put onto their ideas of what Enterprise Architecture is all about and how it has been applied, or how it could be applied in order to achieve some of the goals that the regions have defined for the various hospitals.

Enterprise Architecture on Greenland (Arctic Architecture)

The three students Lars C. Meden, Soeren Tams and Fredrik Krog have visited Greenland in order to collect data on how to deal with the concept of Enterprise Architecture in a country that is significantly different from the industrialized part of the world. The focus of their thesis has been on how to improve the service the public sector provides to the population on Greenland.

The situation on Greenland includes the focus on few resources e.g., few employees and economy, a big diversity between the organizations and a big IT architecture related diversity.

According to the three students the autonomous government of Greenland should have the resources to implement a functional approach to Enterprise Architecture.

One of the challenges in governing Greenland is that it very expensive for the population to travel from one part of Greenland to the other, and likewise does it make communication among the various local authorities rather difficult. As a result of this the autonomous government of Greenland has started a process of implementing video conferencing.

The students focused on how to deal with the municipalities of Greenland and how their particular strategies could be dealt with through applying Enterprise Architecture.

Another barrier for implementation of Enterprise Architecture on Greenland is the lack of a competent local workforce. If the public sector on Greenland has to be able to identify how the various artifacts and as such it doesn’t seem like the local workforce have access to the particular education, or training in the moment. The three students questioned the suitability of implementing an Enterprise Architecture program across the various organizations in the Greenlandic public sector due to the resistance among the local organizations, that might feel that their independence is threatened by a centralized approach to Enterprise Architecture.

The IGIA-Framework

During the summer of 2010 I worked with a literature review that basically dealt with how Enterprise Architecture (through Coherency Management) could be addressing the issue of rewiring the form of leadership which exists in the enterprise.

The IGIA-Framework is a form of synthesis of various theories within the field of corporate governance, IT strategy, IT governance, Workforce planning, Enterprise Architecture and Coherency Management.

The edition of the framework that is released with this blog post is advocating a big bang change approach which demands a lot of resources and a long term commitment. This will be altered with the next edition of the framework which I plan to release during 2011.

The IGIA-Framework needs to address the short turn achievements while using Enterprise Architecture and Coherency Management, and for that reason should the IGIA-Framework be evaluated and developed into a framework that can enable enterprises with gaining a better form of leadership, structure, architecture and not to forget a chance to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

With these words I publish “Integrated Governance: A Way to Achieve Competitive Advantage” the certified edition.

Download the literature review / IGIA – Framework here

Enterprise Architecture is more than IT

This blog post is based on the guest lecture that Chris Potts performed at the course B30 Enterprise Strategy, Business and Technology at the IT University of Copenhagen the 25th of October 2010.
It is growing sense around the world that Enterprise Architecture is dealing with more than IT; however since the concept’s origin from the world of IT has often been portrayed as an IT concept, and implemented as a rather IT centric tool.
Chris Potts asked the class at the lecture: “Can you recognize this architecture (this building – showing a picture of the insides of the Sydney opera house). This is a picture from the inside of the architecture. It proved to be the Sydney opera house but it is often hard to identify buildings (architectures) from the inside but it is rather easy to identify it from the outside”.
According to Potts is the biggest difference between an Enterprise Architect and a building’s architect, and that is “a building cannot change its own architecture” but an enterprise can, and Potts views on the definition of architects in enterprises deals mainly with that all the members in the enterprise in some way are architects. When it came to the role of Enterprise Architect is to change the world. Potts made use of the quotation below.
“According to Potts then Enterprise Architecture is about changing the world into something it probably wouldn’t otherwise have been.” – Chris Potts (2010b).
The question then becomes how to challenge the status quo, and the approach doesn’t always tells people what to do. So you may have an architecture but it doesn’t tell people what it is. According to Potts then sometimes the Enterprise Architect need to risk a lot as strategist and you would need to be ruthless.
Potts is of the opinion (an opinion he shares with Mintzberg and Ross & Weill) that strategy has to be embedded into the behavior of the actors within the enterprise. When it comes to behavior then there are two different forms that needs to be dealt with. The de facto behavior and the formalized behavior. The formalized approach to behavior deals with articulating the desired behavior in work structures through formalized descriptions of what is desired into the various artifacts.
When working with Enterprise Architecture then it might be a focus to use an argument as “Enhancing Enterprise Performance With Structural Innovations”. The hard part of this is the structural innovations part. The Enterprise Architect has to force himself to become innovative in using Enterprise Architecture and innovative in ways to improve the enterprise, and to create value for the enterprise as a whole.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” – Aristole
Structural performance of the enterprise architecture is a principle that needs to be dealt with. Chris Potts mentioned that many investors work with analyzing the profits and costs of the enterprise but they usually fail with understanding or investigating if the enterprise is about to collapse from within due to bad architectural design.
There are many fundamental truths according to Potts. The first one is that the structural performance of an enterprise depends on its architecture, and the second one deals with an enterprise has an architecture regardless it is formalized or not.
The third truth that any enterprise architect should adapt is that the actual shape and structure of an enterprise’s architecture is the aggregated output of all its invests in change.
The fourth principle deals with the value of the structural innovation depends on the wider architectural context and last the enterprise architecture is about scenarios not certainties.
In this context the work with the core tactics is that the chief architect should bring both the explicit and implicit enterprise architects and make them work together.
Chris Potts introduced a new framework for change called the double e, double a journey.
Establish and explorer. These two steps are private to the chief architect and the activate and apply are public to the chief architect. It simply deals with taken over the enterprise through a guiding coalition which in principle can be related to the change framework that John P. Kotter who made the famous eight steps for change program (dating back to 1995).

The Scope of Enterprise Architecture was discussed and the class reached the following conclusions:
1. Activities and Processes.
2. Boundaries.
3. People.
4. Capabilities.
5. Resources.
6. Data.
7. Information.
8. Government and governance.
9. Environment.
10. Technology.
According to Potts markets do also have architectures and this approach leads to a fundamental focus on business architecture since the business architecture can’t stand alone to the market architecture. The market architecture contains the customer experience and from this perspective the architectures needs to be aligned to the market architecture to provide what the customers want. The business architecture in the other hand deals with the virtual organization (or more or less the virtual organization) and it is directly connected to the partners and suppliers that delivers materials and services to the enterprise.
According to Potts then structural performance is the key for measuring how well the enterprise is doing Enterprise Architecture. For this a cash-flow analysis based on the annual reports from the enterprise can be applied; however it is greatly encouraged to make use of other forms of analysis to come to this particular approach e.g., activity based costing. This approach might not give a correct view of status quo of the various lines of business and therefore other key performance indicators and methods needs to be applied.
Therefore should an Enterprise Architect make use of context specific strategies for each line of business. The example that Chris Potts made use of was a bit simplified in relation to measuring the different initiatives the enterprise works with; however it is a needed technology.
Chris Potts emphasize that the politics of management and the politics of organization is of great importance when it comes to Enterprise Architecture, and if the chief architect doesn’t understand the dialectic struggle within the enterprise then it certainly will become a problem for implementing Enterprise Architecture, and according to Potts the political aspect of governance is rather often worse in the public sector than it the private sector.
The interesting part about the approach that Potts makes use of is that he actively tries to describe how a chief enterprise architect has to be able to play many roles and he has to be able to facilitate innovation and development issues within both the lines of business and enable the top management of the enterprise to govern the various lines of business. In other words he has to be able to facilitate innovation while tightening control which usually is a contradiction.

Challenges of Enterprise Architecture: A Focus on the Transformation!

Barriers for Enterprise Architecture

When working with adaption of concepts and technology then the enterprises will face issues with to identify the proper solutions in the proper pace and adapt the solutions to the context that the enterprise is within. Likewise will the enterprise face the challenge of adoption. The adoption of the concept or technology.

The first outwards part (identification of potential technology or concepts) has to be diffused by networks that the enterprise linked to. This can be either through so called social networks or through meta-organizations that acts on behalf of many different organizations and sent out information to the different actors within their network. In many cases is the technology or for that matter the concept in some form generic, and the enterprise needs to alter it to make it work in their context. The adoption process (Rogers 2005) as it is called will have to impact various activities, processes and structures within the enterprise, and that will take time.

Usually semi-mature enterprises will be working with an assumption that they will have to make use of project and program management to implement the new concepts or technology. However it is quite clear that the transformation itself will not happen as a result of project management, but only as a result of organizational transformation. It is rather common that the various lines of businesses don’t adapt and incorporate the various projects right away which leads to the realization of the investments isn’t crystallized right away.

It can be concluded that it is the adaption process that fails when enterprises aren’t able to incorporate the projects into their activities.

The question then becomes if the concept of project or for that matter program management will be a particular good way of adapting the enterprise to change when the real focus should be on how to adapt to the organizational transformation, and thereby working with change management instead of project management.

Change management is usually a rather difficult discipline to work with, and many enterprises underestimate the resources needed to implement the resources. When working with adaption of concepts and technology, then the enterprises will face issues with identifying the proper solutions in the proper pace and adapt the solutions to the context that the enterprise is within. Likewise will the enterprise face the challenge of adoption the concept or technology.

The part is the outwards of the organizational barrier (identification of potential technology or concepts) has to be diffused by networks the enterprise is linked with either through so called social networks or through meta-organizations that acts on behalf of many different organizations and sent information to the different enterprises within their network. In many cases it is the technology or for that matter the concept in some form generic, and the enterprise needs to alter it to make it work in context of the enterprise. The adoption process as it is called will have to impact various activities, processes and structures within the enterprise, and that will take time.

Usually semi-mature enterprises will be working with an assumption that they will have to make use of project and program management to implement the new concepts or technologies. However it is quite clear that the transformation itself will not happen as a result of project management but only as a result of organizational transformation. It is rather common that the various lines of businesses don’t adapt and incorporate the various projects right away which leads to the realization of the investments isn’t crystallized right away.

It can be concluded that it is the adaption process that fails when enterprises aren’t able to incorporate the projects into their activities.

The question then becomes if the concept of project or for that matter program management will be a particular good way of adapting the enterprise to change when the real focus should be on how to adapt to the organizational transformation, and thereby working with change management instead of project management.

Change management is usually a rather difficult discipline to work with, and many enterprises underestimate the resources needed to implement the resources.

Win Over The Opposition

In most literature that has been written about how change management works with the assumption that an enterprise can be unfreezed, moved and freezed. The initial idea was proposed shortly after the second world war by Kurt Lewin. The assumption was based on that the organization was a tightly coupled social system where the actors thought and acted alike. However this might not be the case for most enterprises if they are slightly more complex than the average entrepreneurial organization. For this Karl Weick introduced the loosely coupled social system. In the paper Weick wrote together with Orton in 1990 they state that there are eight forms of loosely coupling among the various components of the enterprise:

  1. Individuals.

  2. Subunits.

  3. Organizations.

  4. Hierarchies.

  5. Organizations and Environments.

  6. Activities.

  7. Ideas.

  8. Intentions.

This means that it isn’t as easy as Kurt Lewin proposed it was to change enterprises. It is a rather complex processes where the influences of the various connections and couplings with the components of the enterprise. It is very likely that the various components will be influenced by their contexts and thereby by their domains.

It is notable that in every organization there will be different forms of coupling among the various components and some will be more tightly integrated than other. Therefore should the eight forms of coupling be understood as a stereotyped view that needs to be customized. In his book “managing the unexpected” that burning platforms aren’t the way forward if the enterprise has to transform for the better, since it is already to late when the burning platform is present.

The Burning Platform?

Therefore should the burning platform be a last solution. The concept of the burning platform was originally published in the Kotter’s (1995) article dealing with managing change. The first part of working this particular change approach is creating the burning platform and for that the executives needs to create a crisis so it is apparent that the enterprise needs to change or extinct.

When the burning platform has been established then Kotter works with a framework that contains eight steps that needs to be followed to implement change. All of the steps are useful but the primary problem is that the approach to change is based on Lewin’s eight steps for change.

It might make the framework for change useless but the rest of eight steps might be useful if it is combined with social networks theory and defining how to approach the loosely coupled systems. Likewise does the enterprise need to institutionalize a culture that accepts when the managers and employees makes mistakes and support them when they report when the mistakes happen so the damage of the mistakes are coped with.

In conclusion it is a necessity to handle the change approach by blending it with the views of Rogers, the views of Weick and the view of Kotter. As it is with all generic frameworks it has to be adapted to the individual enterprise otherwise will the benefits not be realized by the enterprise.

Enterprise Architecture and Organizational Transformation

It is needless to say when implementing an Enterprise Architecture program then it will lead to a need for change in the organization and it handles a lot of its activities for working with documentation, communicating and not to forget how to prioritize projects and organize them into programs. The changes in tasks will impact the organization structure, the people who have been employed, and the technology that has been implemented.

If the enterprise already has implemented a functional Enterprise Architecture program then it is likely that the enterprise will have to identify that the various problems that the Enterprise Architecture program has identified and the transformation phase of the critical business processes. The Enterprise Architecture program will lead to further change through iterations and eventually the program will have matured the Enterprise Architecture. When the Enterprise Architecture has matured then a lot of other elements of the enterprise will be influenced by the concept of Enterprise Architecture program.

Projects Don’t Transform the Enterprise

Projects alone aren’t contributing to change within the enterprise. Usually projects are groups that are established with members from the Line of Business or the Lines of Businesses and when the project has been delivered the project team is usually dissolved and the project is handled over to the line of business. It is in the line of business that the change needs to occur if the business processes have to be changed. Therefore it is the Lines of Business and their ability to adopt the project deliveries that is the key to a more agile enterprise.

Sources

Kotter, J.P., 1995. Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail. Harvard Business Review, (March – April 1995), 9.

Orton & Weick, 1990, Loosely Coupled Systems: A Reconceptulation.

Rogers, E.M., 2003. Diffusion of Innovations 5th ed., Simon & Schuster International.

Weick, K.E. & Sutcliffe, K.M., 2007. Managing the Unexpected: Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty 2nd ed., Jossey Bass.

Loosely Coupled Systems: A Reconceptulation.

Download the paper here.

IT Strategy Paradigms: Ways to understand and develop IT strategies in a Coherency Management Context.

What is an IT strategy

I have been able to identify two major approaches to articulate IT strategies.

The first major approach is the typical MIT Sloan School of Management approach that support the issues of a some how detached IT strategy from the corporate strategy. The strategy is build upon the assumption that IT is complex, and needed to compete with other organizations on particular issues. IT is a vital component and can’t be ignored in the ever changing competitive environment that most enterprises are in.

The notable theoreticians within the paradigm of the MIT Sloan School of Management are Erik Brynjofsson, Jeanne Ross and Peter Weill.

I title this approach the separated IT approach.

I have likewise been able to identify an opposing approach. The opposing approach deals with that IT is that dominant that the executives have to include IT in their corporate strategy. IT can’t be seen as a unique form of investment since IT is equal to many other forms of technology e.g., machines, cars, boats etc.

There are so far rather few theoreticians who commit openly to this approach to IT strategy, the most notable is properly Chris Potts and Scott Bernard (who indirectly support this approach through his views on Enterprise Architecture).

The later approach seems promising since it promotes that the various actors within the enterprise should work along side in a coherent fashion which is in the spirit of Enterprise Architecture.

The two approaches do share some common features e.g., the time frame, the focus on technology and principles needs to be addressed and that IT is a necessity to compete in the modern economy.

IT-strategy paradigms.
IT-strategy paradigms.

The Integrated Strategy Approach

The executives have to understand IT when they work with strategy and they have to understand the impact of applying Information Technology to e.g., Information Systems such as ERP systems, CRM systems or similar. McKeen & Smith (2004) that Information Technology is in nearly all aspects of an enterprise today. That means that the enterprise and the management of the enterprise needs to adjust to the new situation. McKeen & Smith argues that the IT department needs to be proactive to cope with the changes in the industry and the social conditions of the enterprise.

The IT managers don’t necessarily understand the future work with the business and it might lead that they develop assumptions that are out of touch with reality. Neither can we expect that IT persons (or for that matter other persons) knows everything or equally good at anything.

What is important in tis particular approach Potts argues that the need for governing the enterprise as a coherent entity and therefore should the enterprise avoid the detached IT department.

Chris Potts works with the assumption that any kind of modern and Western economies have to include IT in some way. Therefore should the executives (or other strategists) include IT in the articulation process of the corporate strategy. Potts argue that the IT department shouldn’t be separating from “the business” will lead to that the IT department, and the services the IT department provides the business will be seen as an external entity and therefore can’t the IT department have any influence on the corporate strategy.

This leads to the separated strategy approach that have some opposing views on how the enterprise should be dealing with IT in the strategy planning session.

The Separated Strategy Approach

The operating model is what the enterprise should be working with. This particular model maps how the enterprise works. Ross & Weill”s approach is that there are four different generic approaches that the enterprise can make use of (Ross & Weill 2009).

The operating models are then deal with through the needs of the business; but the assumption that Ross & Weill works with is that IT is complex and that executives from the business don’t understand how IT works.

Along side McKeen & Smith they claim that IT needs to become a proactive force but yet IT is that complex that it needs to be governed and dealt with by specialists or generalists who have an understanding of how IT works and how the various implementation approaches of IT works.

What The Approaches Share

Both approaches share features from one another e.g., the both approaches defines IT as a complex form of investments that needs to be governed. Likewise does both approaches suggests that the articulation of the strategy isn’t enough. The strategy needs to be embodied in the actions of the executives.

Both approaches suggests that IT is a corner stone in how the enterprises do business now a days. Both approaches argues that “the business” and the IT department needs to understand one another to make the necessary decisions to create synergy and through that make the business perform as it had more resources at hand.

Coherency Management

In a context of Coherency Management IT plays a decisive role in the foundation architecture, and the ideas presented in Ross & Weill (2006 & 2009) and FruITion both appeal to the usage of Enterprise Architecture to combine business and IT to create competitive advantages. The foundation architecture is characterized by the CIO and the IT department is the driver for enabling an Enterprise Architecture program. It is essential for any enterprise that pursues assurance, alignment and agility to establish an understanding of how the enterprise works and then apply the tools to elevate the Enterprise Architecture program to embrace more than just the IT department.

In conclusion an IT strategy should be tightly coupled to the corporate strategy to make any kind of benefit from working and governing IT.

Appendix

McKeen, J.D. & Smith, H.A., 2003. Making IT Happen: Critical Issues in Managing Information Technology, John Wiley & Sons.

Potts, C., 2008. fruITion: Creating the Ultimate Corporate Strategy for Information Technology illustrated edition., Technics Publications, LLC.

Ross, J.W., Weill, P. & Robertson, D.C., 2006. Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution illustrated edition., Harvard Business School Press.

Download the paper here .

The ATOM Framework: An Idea to Develop an Enterprise Architecture Framework!

The Background

I wondered on how an Enterprise Architecture framework could be developed in a way so it was practical and academic. Therefore I started on developing the ATOM-framework. I want to clarify that ATOM stands for Architectural, Technological, Organization and Managerial and as such the framework addresses all four aspects.

The Foundation of the Framework

The framework is based on that the enterprise (regardless if it is within the sphere of the public sector or the private sector) has to have a vision and a mission for why the enterprise is existing and what it should accomplish. The vision and the mission isn’t necessarily a statement on how to create profits but how to create value. Value can then be defined either as value through profits or value through the usage of resources or through the products or services the enterprise provides the customers or clients).

Through the vision and the mission is the goals for what the corporate strategy should deal with. The corporate strategy is by that a tool (a plan) for how the enterprise should achieve its goals. From the corporate strategy a lot of so called sub-strategies can be identified e.g., the financial strategy, the HR strategy (workforce planning), communication strategy and technology planning.

However there is one particular sub – strategy that differs from the rest of the sub strategies and that is the IT strategy & IT governance section.

The reason for this is that the importance of Information Technology has increased dramatically the later years and therefore this particular form of strategy has to be regarded with great care. However the IT strategy & IT governance approach shouldn’t be based on the idea that the IT strategy or for that matter the governance section can stand alone.

Architecture

The assumption is that every enterprise has an architecture and as such the architecture is a necessity for that the enterprise can perform the activities that creates value. Every enterprise has an architecture but how the enterprise architecture can aid the enterprise with gaining a competitive advantage. For this the enterprise architecture has to be matured.

When maturing the architecture then there are several issues that the executive team has to deal with the architecture to achieve better results that in time will enable the enterprise in achieving competitive advantages.

Technology

The principle assumption is that technology is a tool that can be used to achieve better results for the enterprise e.g., computers, e-mails, and information systems. When speaking of technology then the enterprise can also be in a situation that ordinary technology such as cars, machines and other stuff that is used to make the employees, managers and top managers in achieving the goals and visions of the enterprise.

Organizational

The enterprise consist of people. People have to change the way they do their work, interact with one another and think when they work. All in all the behavior the employees act after is the paradigm.

Managerial

The managerial aspect of the framework deals with how the executive team of the enterprise deals with the decision making in how to apply the changes needed to enable the enterprise in achieving its goals and thereby its transformation processes. If the executives do not support the transformation processes through anchoring their decision making through embodiment through their actions.

The assumption of the corporate strategy is that strategy can be both what is articulated in a particular plan but it can also be the way the strategy is implemented through the actions taken by the executives, middle managers and employees.

The Structure of the Framework

The initial phase of the framework is based upon the idea that architecture is the driving force, then technology will enables, organization is build upon adjusting the behavior of the members of the enterprise (managers, middle managers, employees etc.).

The Framework (1)
The Framework (1)

When implementing the framework then it is a necessity to think that the framework and the concept of enterprise architecture needs to be supported by the management (managerial) and therefore the managerial column has been rearranged. Secondly to that then technology is an enabler for achieving competitive advantage and therefore it shouldn’t be considered as secondary. Then why is architecture in front of the organization and managerial level? The reason for this is that all enterprises have an architecture and when the architecture is matured then the enterprise is able to achieve better results from its managerial, organizational and technological elements.

The Framework (2)
The Practical Approach to the Framework.

This leads to the principles of the architecture.

The Principles of the Architecture Aspect

The architecture is the driver for change in the enterprise. The architecture needs to be uncovered so the executives and the assumed chief architect can define what projects that are needed to make the enterprise more able to adapt to its environment, be more efficient and making the enterprise architecture able to achieve its goals.

The architecture aspect deals with identifying various artifacts that already exists in the enterprise. The focus will be on artifacts such as the current corporate strategy, IT strategy, financial strategy and work force strategy. Likewise will artifacts such as concepts of operation, business models diagrams, documents on IT-governance, and documents on how the enterprise adds value to its customers. When speaking of IT governance then business cases, project descriptions and documents that creates an overview of how the IT and business projects are aligned have to be uncovered.

It is worth to mention that if the enterprise hasn’t articulated the various artifacts then the chief architect among others have to develop the artifacts.

The Framework (3)
The Architectural Aspect of the Framework.

When working with classifying the architecture it might be a help for the enterprise architect to assume that the corporate strategy is the driver for how the various projects within the framework that the enterprise (organization) is.

The ATOM-framework it can be assumed that the enterprise somehow is organized like an ancient egyptian pyramid.

The Organization
The Organization.

The first level deals with the management of the enterprise and as such with the formulation of the corporate strategy.

The second level deals with the business models and business processes of the enterprise. This deals with how the enterprise creates value to its customers (or clients).

The third layer deals with the business to IT alignment phase. This means the enterprise focuses on making their IT work as intended.

The fourth phase deals with the information related artifacts e.g., how are the information systems and databases designed. The information systems process the information that is stored in the database.

The fifth layer is build upon the idea that every other layer in the enterprise is related or build upon the usage of Information Technology.

When the artifacts have been categorized then they have to be organized into a what is called a repository that can be used to communicate the various artifacts to the various stakeholders and actors with in the enterprise. This will enable the holistic view on how the enterprise functions and how the enterprise should be changed.

As such the assumption is that the executives in the enterprise that articulates the corporate strategy and as such all the other strategies have to be aligned with the corporate strategy.

The Artifacts for the Strategic Level

Artifacts that can be identified are the corporate strategy and the elements therefore e.g., the enterprise strategic portfolio. What are the goals of the enterprise and how can it achieve the goals?

The strategy can be driven both through a formal strategy as well through and embodiment of the actions of how the executive team works.

The Artifacts for the Business Level

The artifacts at this level are the business model (or business models), concept of operations and business modeling.

The Artifacts for the IT-alignment Level

The artifacts within this level are lists and specifications of how the enterprise’s business processes and business projects are aligned through the IT projects.

The Artifacts for the Information Systems Level

This level is characterized through the identified information systems and databases systems. The databases have to be categorized and the usage of the enterprise’s databases. Artifacts that can be identified are database diagrams, E/R-diagrams and Information Systems diagrams. IS-diagrams includes maps & diagrams of ERP and BI systems.

The Artifacts for the Technology Level

This level deals with that technology that is used in the enterprise to enable the enterprise to create the products or services they sell. It is notable that technology as such also can be supportive for internal processes in the enterprise.

Technology can be both the ‘ordinary’ forms of technology such as machines and the newer forms of technology such as Information Technology.

Artifacts that can be identified in this level is network diagrams, Obashi diagrams, switch diagrams etc.

The Principles of the Managerial Aspect

The executives have to understand and to work with the issues of Enterprise Architecture and as such the managerial team (executives and middle management) of the enterprise have to act accordingly to the corporate strategy.

As such the managerial actions have to reflect the corporate strategy (embodiment of strategy) and the program for Enterprise Architecture has to be anchored to the executive group so resources and responsibilities can be allocated.
The Enterprise Architecture group should be given the resources to establish its self and the document and ultimately change the way the way the enterprise (and thereby the members of the enterprise e.g., executives, managers, project leaders, workers etc.). As such the organizational approach needs to be dealt with as well before the concept of enterprise architecture and coherent governance can be achieved.

The Framework (4)
The Framework (4)

Within the group of people who will work with the enterprise architecture there have to be certain roles e.g., Chief Architect and ordinary architects who have to work with identifying or developing the artifacts needed to implement a repository.

The Chief Architect can be identified as the person in charge of choosing the framework, modifying and giving the necessary responsibilities to the architects. Depending on the maturity of the enterprise architecture there are different forms of architecture.

The Principles of the Technology Aspect

The technology aspect deals with that the enterprise make use of technology to produce or aide the production of services the enterprise in some way or the other with production of the services. The aspect of technology is it needs to be utilized and applied to alter the business processes more effective than they were before the processes were re-engineered. As such the aspects of technology needs to be measured and benchmarked so the economic benefits of deploying the technology can be justified and the individuals, groups and committees that are responsible for the implementation are hold responsible for the benefits that where estimated before the enterprise chose to implement the the particular technology (through an business based IT project or program).

The technology aspect has to be aligned with the managerial and the organizational aspects due to so technology generate the greatest amount of value for the enterprise as possible. However it is notable that if the enterprise and the enterprise architects as such assume that operational efficiency is the key to achieve competitive advantage then they have to refocus their attention. According to Porter then the focus of how to achieve a competitive advantage then the sole focus on operational efficiency will not result in a competitive advantage (Porter 1998).

The Framework (5)
The Framework (5)

The Principles of the Organization Aspect

When the enterprise architecture is changed the focus has to be on how the members of the enterprise (executives, middle managers and employees) think and behave.

Therefore should the enterprise architects focus on elements from the field of organizational theory and organizational change. E.g., it is almost universal that a communication plan has to be developed so the chief architect a long side the executive team can communicate to the stakeholders on why the change (adaption of Enterprise Architecture) is needed and the communication needs to address the changes over time and that the members of the enterprise needs to be reassured on that they are doing the right thing and the change (as an overall program) is unavoidable.

Kotter (Kotter 1995) addressed the aspect of communication as one of the key failures that lead to lack of change in enterprises. In a response to communication should an attempt to change be based on communicating facts and feelings (Kotter 2008). Culture as such consist of ideas and feelings that are shared among a certain group of individuals (members of the enterprise) and to impact these feelings then it is a necessity to impact the feelings. Among these feelings are the feeling of winning the one that needs to be emphasized in the communication.

Besides the impact on how to impact the organization culture then the enterprise needs to restructure the organizational hierarchy so it is possible for the Chief Enterprise Architect and the Enterprise Architects can implement the changes needed without being undermined through other factions in the enterprise. Ideally should the Enterprise Architecture group be assigned to be working with or under the Chief Operations Officer since Enterprise Architecture should be generating the benefits of generating the overview that is necessary to initiate coherent improvement programs. If the Enterprise Architecture group is located under the CIO then it will often lead to a too IT-focused EA – approach that is implemented.

The Framework (6)
The Framework (6)

Implementing the Changes

When thinking of the success of the strategy that the enterprise has to implement then it is a need that the enterprise takes all of the four aspects into consideration. Leavitt (Leavitt 1965) designed the diamond to represent that when a task has to be changed then the structure of the organization and the way the employees acts has to be changed and like wise does it impact the technology that is applied in the organization.

Leavitt's Diamond
Leavitt's Diamond

It is fundamental that the policy makers and the strategists takes this into consideration and that can be done through applying Enterprise Architecture and using the ATOM-framework.

The Further Development of Enterprise Architecture & the ATOM-framework

Enterprise Architecture can be considered both as an form of documentation but also as a form of governance. Bernard (Bernard 2005) and later Doucet et al. (Doucet et al. 2009) defined EA as form of governance that would make the enterprise better suited to adapt to its environment.

The focus of the ATOM-framework has to be considered as an all around approach on how the strategies (corporate strategies) impacts the various other components and levels of the enterprise. When it comes to development of enterprise architecture and the ATOM-framework then the question of how Enterprise Architecture can enable the employees to contribute more to the enterprise through their passions and creativity, how the enterprise can be assure that their procedures and policies enables the enterprise to achieve its goals.

For that further research into Coherency Management (the extended approach to Enterprise Architecture) has to be investigated in case studies. The same can be said about the ATOM-framework and likewise should the further development of the ATOM-framework support complex issues of employee motivation & behavior, artifact categorization & establishment, and management innovation. Likewise does the framework need to be tested in a series of case studies to first of all be tested and as such be improved when the flaws of the framework desig are discovered and dealt with.

Appendix

Bernard, S.A., 2005. An Introduction To Enterprise Architecture: Second Edition 2nd ed., AuthorHouse.

Doucet, G. et al., 2009. Coherency Management: Architecting the Enterprise for Alignment, Agility and Assurance, International Enterprise Architecture Institute.

Kotter, J.P., 1995. Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail. Harvard Business Review, (March – April 1995), 9.

Kotter, J.P., 2008. A Sense of Urgency, Harvard Business School Press.

Leavitt, H.J. , 1965. “Applied organizational change in industry: structural, technological and humanistic approaches”, in: Handbook of organizations, edited by J.G. March. Chicago: Rand McNally.

Porter, M.E., 1998. On Competition, Harvard Business Review, Boston, p.40-42.

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