Tools for Strategic Evaluation: Tools and Methods the Coherency Architect should Apply.

The SWOT analysis

The Coherency Architect should be making use of a SWOT-analysis to evaluate the organization (enterprise) of which he or she is working with.

The SWOT analysis is a perfect tool to evaluate an organization’s strategical options in the current situation (AS – IS) and what the organization can do to move to a new desired steady state (TO BE). Please note that in some cases technology can also be evaluated through the usage of the SWOT analysis.

It is notable that the Coherency Architect shouldn’t rely solely on the SWOT analysis since it has a tendency to overemphasize the current situation (AS – IS). The Coherency Architect should therefore focus on using other approaches and methods to support the view of the future situation for the organization. However the SWOT analysis can be a good idea to make use of initiate a strategical analysis.

SWOT stands for Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Where strength and weaknesses are internal factors for the organization. Opportunities and Threats are external factors of the organization.

However in some cases opportunities that haven’t been created or applied for the organization (though the fundament can be found in the organization) can be considered an opportunity.

SWOT - analysis.
SWOT - analysis.

An Example

This organization (enterprise) is in a situation where its products are seen as a commodity by the customers and as such new players in the market has started to produce products that are of similar quality and can do almost exactly as the products as the organization produces; the products the competitors produce are often a bit cheaper do the fact that the competitors are able to gain economies of scale.

The organization (enterprise) has a home – made Enterprise Resource-planning System, a heterogeneous portfolio of 132 computers (both old and new computers of diverse brands and specifications and operating systems) and the organization has access to one server that runs an elderly Microsoft ® Based Operating System where the ERP software is hosted and the user administration is managed. The organization (enterprise) consist of 300 employees and about 25% of these have an education on college level or above. The COO has a PhD in field of process development. The last 75% o the organization consist of people who have been minded on practical educations and are as such not theoretically in their approach to solve the problems the organization faces.

The organization (enterprise) has access to a credit limit of €10 million which their bank has granted them access to if the organization needs access to external funds to finance their investments.

The Business Processes have a lot of tightly coupling and they are working through a so-called J-I-T system (Just in Time) where the organization produces their products just as many units as needed to the various retailers. This is based on an idea that the organization can save money on storage facilities. The organization is almost like a division organization as Mintzberg described it.

The organization (enterprise) has an internal IT department; however the IT department is overworked and they often spend most of their time with user support and maintenance of the elderly systems and the management of the organization do not value the inputs the IT manager gives to the CFO.

SWOT - Analysis Example
SWOT - Analysis Example

The Coherency Architect can then identify the weaknesses of the current strategical situation (AS IS) and then use the SWOT-analysis as a part of the documentation to create the overview which is needed to articulate a transition plan for the Enterprise Architecture.

Conclusion and Discussion

The SWOT-analysis can be made use of to give the Coherency Architect an overview of the enterprise’s situation (AS IS) and it can assist the Coherency Architect with creating an overview of the strategical and the tactical situation; however the SWOT-analysis should be supplemented by other models and approaches such as the Porter’s Five Forces model and Porter’s internal value chain including Robson’s IS value chain.

Both an organization (enterprise) and technology can be analyzed by applying the SWOT-analysis; though the Coherency Architect needs to take it in to consideration that the analysis method often emphasizes on the “AS IS” state and therefore be questionable to be used in relation to articulation of an transition plan.

Download the paper here.

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