Tag Archives: Strategic Management

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.

Dealing with Systemic Problems Through the Enterprise Architecture Program

There are many problems the chief architect, enterprise architects, CIOs, executives and decision-makers on all levels will be facing while handling the day to day operations. Quite a few problems that they will be dealing with are symptoms of larger more complex problems or what I have chosen to define as “systemic problems”.

Systemic problems are the roots of why processes do not seem to connect resources, parts of the products that are to be delivered to the customers are bulked up or simply not arriving at the right place at the right time, information that isn’t shared across several different parts of the enterprise. Such symptoms can usually be dealt with rather easily e.g. a systems architect would say that an information system can be constructed in order to create an overview of the information and share the information among the stakeholders, and so the stakeholders believe the problem has been solved; however quite often will the problem not be solved e.g. the information that the system has to make use of in order to create forecast and delivery dates can’t produce any useful information if no one provides information to the system and likewise will the system not deliver any kind of value if those who are supposed to react upon the information delivered don’t do so.

So what can the chief architect and the enterprise architects do in order to find out if there is a systemic problem, and how to gain an overview of the problem(s) in order to find out more about the systemic problem and identify solutions for how to deal with the problems.

As I see it most systemic problems share similarities with “wicked problems”. Wicked problems are defined as problems that are defying logic, they includes various perspective, they are connected through different problems that occur and they can’t bet solved the regular linear way. All in all the chief architect would be in a problem where he and the other members of the enterprise architecture team would have to share their knowledge in order to find out how important the problems associated with the symptoms are, and how the enterprise architecture team can contribute to solving the problems.

One of the great problems applying resources to deal with systemic problems is that the problems involve many different segments of the enterprise and as such all the stakeholders that have something to say would have to be involved. The problems could potentially prove to be hard to solve due to the situation where the enterprise would have to allocated resources to deal with the problem, that is hard to define and where it is hard to identify which of the segments that would have to contribute what. Politics can’t be avoided in order to solve the problem and that means that the decision-makers on various levels in the enterprise would have to be involved and the scenarios for solving the systemic problem would have be changed in order to gain the trust of the important decision-makers.

Besides politics and the allocation of resources there several other barriers that the chief architect and the enterprise architecture group will be facing e.g.:

  • Furthermore does time means money.
  • Opportunity cost can be hard to estimate.
  • Mental models that are frozen.
  • Organization cultures that are notorious hard to change.
  • Power issues and accountability for changing the status quo.

Each of the barriers above would be hard to deal with in the short or for that matter in the long run; however the role of the enterprise architecture program would be to identify the capabilities that the enterprise possess and how they can be made use of in order to gain the insight.

The question becomes how can enterprise architecture program assist the enterprise with solving the systemic (wicked problems).

The way I see possibilities of using the enterprise architecture program is through combining the documentation process with the process of questioning the various stakeholders in the various segments and through that feedback the enterprise architects are able to define a view of the situation that can be used to facilitate workshops where the stakeholders can comment and ask for changes. When this process has been taken care of the enterprise architects would bring back the knowledge they have collected and draw a map dealing with the problems they have been able to identify and from that they would prioritize the problems. The map could be build upon the concept of a rich picture with more layers. This model could with some benefit be mapped in the modeling tool. The chief architect could present the findings to the various decision-makers in the enterprise in order to create a pattern for how the enterprise can get over the systemic problem.

The decision-makers can from that information get a significant better overview of the situation (in any case it is better than having no information what so ever) and decide what to do in order to improve the situation. As I have earlier mentioned then there are no quick fixes to wicked problems and likewise are there few, if none, of the solutions that can be proclaimed the right solution for the problems the enterprise faces. The solutions are to be defined only on if the solutions improve or demote the situation for the enterprise.

The Foundation for Coherency Management: A Framework for Change.

A Framework for Organization to Embrace Coherency Management

When an organization choses to pursuit the implementation of Coherency Management then it the organization have to focus on organizational change. The idea of the organizational change is when the managers, middle managers and the employees will have to work in a different way and humans and organization culture have a tendency to be conservative and react hostile against change.

For this the Coherency Architect should focus on how create the proper form of change within the organization.

A Quick Summary of Coherency Management

Coherency Management deals with how to achieve alignment, agility and assurance through maturing the enterprise’s Enterprise Architecture. According to Doucet et al (2009) then there are three stages for an Enterprise Architecture. The first one is the form that is called the Foundation Architecture which is typically led by the IT department and sponsored through the CIO. The second stage is the so called extended enterprise architecture where both the business side and the IT-organization have adopted and applied Enterprise Architecture to expose the current situation (AS IS architecture) and is used to manage the enterprise’s strategic, business and technology elements.

The third and last stage is called the Embedded Architecture. This particular form of architecture is defined by the most employees in some way or the other work with the Enterprise Architecture. However there are two forms of Enterprise Architects. The first form is the explicit of architect of which there can be defined to dominant forms. The mature and advanced form of Enterprise Architects that are working with an established architecture office that handles the various forms of strategies to create a so called coherent overview. The other form of explicit architect are working with various sub architectures such as the business architecture, technology architecture or the solution architecture.

It is worth to mention that these three stages of architectures are supported by Herzum in his 2003 paper on the topic.

The Framework

When dealing with organizational change then the Coherency Architect needs to work with developing and internal pressure for enabling change. The question can be if the organization is loosely coupled or not. In this particular framework the assumption is that the organization (enterprise) isn’t loosely coupled.

When the organization (enterprise) isn’t a public given monopoly such as the Danish postal services then it will face competition. The competition deals with that the competitors will work for gaining market share this is done through various strategies and those enterprises that sees that they can’t make money in a particular market focuses on differentiating their products or services.

The various moments the competing enterprises makes are in a way a path to more innovation (since it emphasis the development of new products or differentiating the products e.g., make products of a better quality), and this can be defined as a part of the external pressure. It is worth mentionable that not only does the competitors add to the external pressure e.g., the government, press or other external entity. The external pressure can be an enabler for an internal pressure of which is needed to create the urge for change. Change or initiatives for change can be limited through the persistence of organizational culture (as before mentioned organizational culture tends to be rather conservative) and urge is a feeling among the actors within the organization to approve the change initiatives.

It is a preferable situation for the enterprise and the Coherency Architect would be if there can be created a synergy between the external pressure and the internal pressure. This particular synergy would be the burning platform.

When the external pressure e.g., competition, law (regulation) or other element changes in the enterprise’s domino then the Coherency Architect should work with influencing the various groups within the organization that holds some form of power. For this the Coherency Architect needs to produce valid arguments for the need for change and arguments on what to do. For this an elevator pitch can be necessary. According to Bernard (Bernard 2005) then the concept of Enterprise Architecture embraces strategy, business and technology so all of them can be aligned.

The elevator pitch could therefore be something like this “Enterprise Architecture assists in creating a coherent overview of business, strategy and technology”. The elevator pitch has to be supported through an economic and strategical estimation of the benefits that Enterprise Architecture and Coherency Management can add to the enterprise.

When done so then the Coherency Architect should establish an Enterprise Architecture group where he or another person should be appointed the Chief Architect and this person should be granted the resources, responsibilities and power needed to implement an Enterprise Architecture program. Before Coherency Management can be implemented then the organization needs to implement an Enterprise Architecture program and through the principles of Coherency Management evolve the Enterprise Architecture to more than just the “Foundation Architecture”. When establishing the Enterprise Architecture program a suitable Enterprise Architecture framework should be applied e.g., Bernard’s EA 3 Cube framework. The framework should as a documentation form and as a management form ensure that the enterprise’s current projects are investigated and if possible aligned with the strategy, business and technology goals for the Enterprise.

While the Enterprise Architecture program is established then the Coherency Architect should communicate with the sponsors

When the alignment has been established then the Coherency Management framework CoMOF framework should be adapted to the needs of the organization e.g., should issues like repositories be dealt with which leads to the example of the Modular (modular repositories) Coherency Management Framework (needless to say that the framework is based on Doucet et al. basic suggestions for a framework). When the maturing process for the Enterprise Architecture has been matured then it is important for the Coherency Management to verify and moderate the feedback channels that is the foundation of the renewing the Coherency Management and Enterprise Architecture programs and eventually the need for changes have to be implemented along side a new burning platform.

Key Issues

An Enterprise Architecture program should be enterprise – wide and therefore the Coherency Architect will have to deal with resistance to change and for that communication is vital for all the necessary stakeholders. Therefore a communication plan is needed and it has to focus on three particular issues. 1) The stakeholders don’t think like the Coherency Architect. 2) The various stakeholders needs different kinds of information. 3) The need for urgency needs to be enabled through communication and therefore should the Coherency Architect communicate the victories and the victories needs to be sequenced over the period of time one iteration takes and the communication needs to be done in a way that appeal to the feelings of the stakeholders.

Conclusion

When an Enterprise Architecture program and a Coherency Management program is about to be established then it is vital for the success of the program, that the Coherency Architect deals with the issues of pressure to establish a burning platform and then anchor an EA office or for that matter a coherency management office to the power bases in the organization. When done so communication about victories has to be prioritized and sequenced to so the stakeholders continue with their support for both the Enterprise Architecture and Coherency Management program. Since Coherency Management is based on the foundation of Enterprise Architecture then it is a necessity that the EA program is anchored first and for that the proper approach is to apply an EA framework e.g., Bernard’s Enterprise Architecture 3 Cube Framework and use the EA program to align the business and IT projects of the organization to support new or improved business processes (TO BE architecture) that are dictated by the corporate strategy.

When the EA program has been established then the usage of a Coherency Management framework needs to be implemented and the framework needs to be modified to the needs of the particular enterprise e.g., by adding multiple repositories.

When both the EA program and Coherency Management program has been established then it is vital that the Coherency Architect ensures improvement and that can be done by established and routinized channels for verification and feedback.

The need for adaption to the domain of the organization will lead to a continued demand for the establishment of a burning platform.

Sources

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.

Herzum, P., 2003. Applying Enterprise Architecture. Cutter Consortium Executive Report, 6(3), 36.

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

Download the paper here.

Artifacts: The Items the Enterprise Architect has to Identify.

Enterprise Architecture Artifact

First of all we need a definition of what an EA artifacts is. Scott A. Bernard defines “an EA artifact as a documentation product, such as a text document, diagram, spreadsheet, briefing slides, or video clip” (Bernard 2004, p. 111).

Please note that the EA artifact documents the EA component. An EA component is in the Enterprise Architecture components are those elements that are owned by Lines of Business. The components can be shared (cross cuts) or the component can be shared a cross various levels (this is with in the EA3 Framework).

Various Forms of Artifacts

There are various forms of artifacts in the EA 3 framework. Combined with the Cube to illustrate what kind of artifacts than can be identified at the five levels of the cube.

The first (and highest level) is the layer titled “Goals and Initiatives” deals with documents and diagrams dealing with mission statement, overall strategy (corporate and IT strategy), purpose of the organization. E.g., SWOT analysis, Porter’s Five Forces analysis, competitive strategy, Concept of Operations.

The second (and second highest level) is the layer titled “Products and Services” deals with the business plans, swim lane diagrams, business cases (for investment in new business and IT projects), use case diagrams and node connectivity diagrams among other stuff.

The third (and third highest level) is the layer titled “Data and Information” deals with identifying the knowledge management plan, the information exchange matrix, objects state – transition diagram, logical data model, data dictionary / object library.

The fourth (and fourth highest level) is the layer titled “Systems and Applications”that deals with identifying systems interface diagram, systems communication diagram, systems interface matrix, system data flow diagram, system or operations matrix, systems data exchange matrix, systems evolution diagram and web application diagram.

The fifth (and fifth highest level) is the layer titled “Network and Infrastructure” deals with identifying artifacts like network connectivity diagram, network inventory, capital equipment inventory, building blueprints, network center diagram, cable plant diagram and the rack elevation diagram.

The EA3 Cube.
The EA3 Cube.

Acquiring the Artifacts

When the Enterprise Architect or for that matter the Coherency Architect have to acquire information on the various layers in the EA3 Cube.

The Enterprise Architect has to go to the CIO or other members of the executive group who the Enterprise Architect assumes have access to the corporate strategy and the IT strategy. However many organizations there aren’t isn’t an IT strategy or for that matter an explicit up to date the corporate strategy. Most of that information that all in all can be combined into a functional strategy.

In such cases the Enterprise Architect has to go an interview the stakeholders. However the Enterprise Architect should expect that he or she hasn’t unlimited resources to investigate and uncover the strategies (level 1). He or she should therefore try to focus on the stakeholders that can give them the greatest amount of value through the uncovering process.

The persons or stakeholders should be set into a matrix where the axis should be aligned around importance and impact on the uncovering process.

Importance - Contribution Matrix.
Importance - Contribution Matrix.

When the various stakeholders have been identified then those actors and stakeholders who are in the upper right quadrant should be interviewed. If it is possible then those persons who are in the lower right quadrant should be engaged as well however only as second or third priority.

When interviewing the executive group the Enterprise Architect should focus on applying techniques that enables the interview victims on expressing what they mean by illustrating the strategy e.g., rich pictures, flow charts, concept of operations diagrams etc.

The interview technique could be applied on the other levels in the EA 3 Cube. Likewise can the various managers and employees be categorized in the matrix and likewise should the Enterprise Architect focus on maximizing the values of his work through interviewing those persons who have contributes the most and who are most important to the data collection.

Conclusion

The Chief Enterprise Architecture should work with identify the proper stakeholders and make use of interview techniques to collect the necessary artifacts they need to create the “AS IS” view of the Enterprise Architecture. All organizations faces the conflict of resource shortage which means that the executives needs to prioritize their actions to create maximum value and that includes the way the Chief Enterprise Architect and the Enterprise Architects should handle.

Download the paper here.

Strategic Management: From the Coherency Architect’s Point of View!

Enterprise Architecture in Combination with Strategic Management

According to the discipline of Enterprise Architecture and Coherency Management then all organizations have an Enterprise Architecture. If an organization hasn’t an Enterprise Architecture then it isn’t able to deliver any kind of products or services.

The question then is how the organization is able to understand and later adapt the concepts of Enterprise Architecture to achieve better results and gain competitive advantage.

It is essential for the organization to gain the competitive advantage to lea the market and to survive in the long run.

According to Doucet et al. (2009) then Strategic Management and the concept of Coherency Management is from a strategic stand point a combination of Enterprise Architecture and Strategic Management. The combination of the two concepts have to result in better “alignment”, “Assurance” and “Agility”.

Alignment

Alignment is dealing with how various elements of an organization can be configured so they offer the optimal potential so value can be generated for the organization. The concept of alignment can together with the concept assurance and the concept of accuracy deliver “synergy” to the enterprise. The concept of “synergy” will be dealt with later in this blog post.

Alignment can be achieved by applying a framework (EA Approach) to understand the Enterprise Architecture.

Assurance

Assurance is dealing with the issue of control and openness. The control element deals with knowledge of that the amount of resources are committed to execute the processes and the products and services that the enterprise produces

Agility

Deals with the ability to adapt to change in the organization’s domain. E.g., new competitors, new technology, new substituting products and services. That also have implications for the internal situation for the organization e.g., what sort of technology that should be applied .

Synergy

Synergy deals with creating an effect that enables the organization to perform better by using the same amounts of components that are configured in a different way. Mintzberg quotes Ansoff for saying “He referred to it as the ’2 + 2 = 5′ effect to denote the fact the firm seeks as a product – market posture with a combined performance that is greater than the sum of its parts”. (Mintzberg 2000, p. 45).

The overall idea is to use enterprise architecture to create the foundation for synergy. If the enterprise hasn’t an established EA program then it an idea to emphasize organizational change where Kotter’s Eight Phased approach can be applied.

The reason for this is that the members of the organization might be orthodox and therefore return to the original processes and work forms.

Conclusion

Synergy can be created and enhanced by using Enterprise Architecture. The more mature an enterprise architecture becomes the better the organization will be to cope with agility, alignment and assurance. To establish this organizational change management has to be applied to ensure that the change from the old ways of doing things to the new ones for this the Kotter’s approach to organizational change.

Sources

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

Mintzberg, H., 2000. The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, Financial Times/ Prentice Hall.

Download the paper here.

Economic Perspectives of Enterprise Architecture: Four perspectives the Coherency Architect Should be Aware of!

Perspectives and the Extended Enterprise

When the Coherency Architect has to convince his or her opponents on how Enterprise Architecture and Coherency Management can improve the organization’s strategic capabilities then it might turn out to be useful to use economic estimations and KPIs; however it can be useful to make use of perspectives. Jaap Schekerman presents four perspectives on how Enterprise Architecture can generate value for the organization. Each perspective brings prospects and consequences.

Never the less can the economic views be challenged and aren’t there other economic perspectives of EA than those that Jaap Schekkerman has identified and dealt with in his Book “The Economic Benefits of Enterprise Architecture”.

Business Efficiency

Deals with improving the business processes by adding technology (especially ICT and information systems). This means that the Coherency Architect has to focus on obliterating business processes and add Information Technology. Usually this leads to a desire for world class processes.

This approach isn’t focusing on cost reductions that means it is comparably more expensive that the technology efficiency perspective; however it brings more benefits. In this focus Enterprise Architecture is used to identify how IT and technology can enable the current processes (AS IS) and how future processes be designed (TO BE).

Business Innovation

This perspective deals with using Enterprise Architecture to identify areas of which the organization can create new products, services or possibilities for creating game changing products and services and that can give the organization a competitive advantage. This perspective is focusing on the future competitive advantage that the organization can crystalize a competitive advantage.

Technology Efficiency

Technology Efficiency is based on the on the ideas that the cost (TCO) of using technology. It rarely leads to benefits for the organization since their focus often is on how to save money (sink the costs) of using technology and the costs of its business process. This perspective is ‘cheapest’ perspective but it also contains the fewest future benefits for the organization. This approach is currently the most used perspective.

Technology Enabling

Technology enabling is a perspective that focusses on adding new technology to the business and the business processes. This should in the long run lower the costs the organization occurs by using technology. The main question in this perspective is how ICT can enable the business processes and make value out of the technology by using Enterprise Architecture as a tool for alignment of the corporate goals with information and communication technology. However this perspective is known for being costly and it brings few benefits.

The Enterprise Architecture Value Model
The Enterprise Architecture Value Model.

Conclusion

The four perspectives are useful to identify how an organization views its strategy, economy and not to mention how Enterprise Architecture can generate benefits for the organization. However the four perspectives can only be considered generic and they don’t make much room for customization for the organization to mix between the four different ways to handle it. It is notable that if the organization is a division organization then it is likely that the focus on technology and enterprise architecture might be different and shouldn’t therefore be put into one and the same “perspective”.

Last of all. It is important that the four perspectives are combined with the organization’s strategic management.