Management information is not particular difficult to produce, it is difficult to make use of. Management information can be produced in quite a few ways and supported by quite a few methods, but too much management information will eventually clutter the line of sight of the decision makers and as such work against holistic management. This blog post will outline some ideas; I have for particular artifacts that can enable the Enterprise Architecture function to deliver the necessary management information to decision-makers in e.g. IT Governance boards.
Enterprise Architecture is a philosophy, a methodology and a way to produce management information, and to some extent Enterprise Architecture has proved to focus too much on documenting the so-called as-is situation. In my opinion, the Enterprise Architecture should focus on identifying potential innovations that could be implemented in the organization’s enterprise architecture and create value for the stakeholders. However in order to delimit the scope of this blog post I would prefer to apply a definition by Anupinidi and Coady (2012) that essentially states that Enterprise Architecture is about guiding the information technology to the desired strategic position for the organization.
The stakeholders usually have different values and different ideas of how innovations like applications, devices and hardware can create value. In such case it becomes a necessity for the Enterprise Architecture program to deliver forecasts for what kind of technologies and concepts that could be of interest for the organization and provide road maps that can enable the implementation of them.
There are several different approaches to estimate what particular innovations (in this case technologies and concepts) would be available and when to invest in them. The Gartner “hype cycle”. The model is far from perfect and to some extent the model can only be used as an inspiration since the model doesn’t ensures feedback of any kind. Gartner Incorporated applies pretty much the same model each year and they put a lot of models on the same though with some differences in chronology (how long time has the concept been on the hype cycle) and the concepts that are mapped on the hype cycle are “strangely” also a part of the service portfolio that Gartner incorporated sells to their customers.
The Enterprise Architect would have to use caution using the “hype cycle” since to some extent the hype cycle could give potential stakeholders a wrong impression of how mature the various innovations are. However the hype cycle can be used in order to categorize information and the model can be enhanced if the proper feedback loops are added to the model and its slopes. In order to provide guidance to the stakeholders and thereby providence to the decision-makers, the Enterprise Architect should define artifacts that are relations to the hype cycle.
They way I see it there would be three types of artifacts that would support enable the kind of management information that I would like to see the Enterprise Architecture deliver. The three artifacts can in combination give the decision-makers in the IT Governance boards a sense of what kind of information technologies and concepts that they should invest in:
1) Roadmaps for technologies are key in order show the stakeholders where the technical architecture is expected to develop.
2) A roadmap for the development of the products that the organization produces.
3) Roadmaps for processes are key in order to produce the products and services that the customers or clients of the organization.
A meta-layer to the three roadmaps would have to be added e.g. how do the processes enables the production of the products and furthermore how the technology enables the people how interact with the processes to develop the technology. The meta-roadmap should give the stakeholders an impression of how the innovations could ensure capabilities that the organization could gain competitive benefits from, if the proper investments are made.
Beyond the meta-roadmap
It is possible to combine the meta-roadmap with capability maps and scenarios. Capability maps have a slightly different focus and scenarios are usually applied for several different factors for the organization if a desired change of strategy is needed. The meta-roadmap can supply information (artifacts) to the strategically oriented models.
There are several different approaches to management information and how the Enterprise Architecture program can enable the production of the right amount of it at the right time; however there are certain approaches that might turn out to be more interesting than others. Innovation is to some extent the opposite of enterprise-archeology and as such it seems right if the Enterprise Architecture function provides makes use of a model like the hype cycle (preferable a slight modified edition) in order to structure the outlook for innovations (like technologies or concepts) that the organization might benefit from if it invests its resources properly. In order to go beyond the hype cycle, then roadmaps would have to be developed and make use of the data from the hype cycle. Such roadmaps should lay the foundation for a meta-roadmap that shows how the various technologies or concepts would enable the enterprise to deliver current and future products when or if the proper investments are made and the implementation of the technologies have been sequenced the right way. Furthermore the meta-roadmap can and should provide information to strategic scenarios and capability maps. In order to give you a more detailed insight into the artifacts that I have briefly mentioned in this blog post would have to be explored further.
- Ph.D, Nagesh V. Anupindi, and Gerard A. Coady. Enterprise Architecture Turnaround. Trafford Publishing, 2011.