Archive for the ‘ EA in Practice ’ Category

The Open Group Conference Boston 2010

The Open Group convened Enterprise Architects the world over in what is probably the conference capital of the world – Boston, from 19 – 23 July 2010. Here are a few statements from the speakers on Day 3 – on the significance of IT people in general, the EA practice, the growing list of skills required of Enterprise Architects, and a little on cloud computing.

“IT people are the best people to address the relevance of IT within companies” – Jack Calhoun, CEO, Accelare, US

“Decisions cannot be made in a vacuum without having the proper data and the context for that information. Enterprise architecture can help businesses pose the correct questions and provide the necessary data to make better decision making scenarios.” – Paul Johnson, CEO, Pragmatica Innovations

The following statement shows that business does involve some level of emotion – the ability to inspire through a well-described vision in addition to providing hard data can weigh the vote in your favor.

“Because getting buy-in becomes more difficult the further up the decision-chain one goes, Mr. Skilton suggested that a combination of providing vision, quantitative analysis and qualitative information is necessary to begin the conversation.” – Capgemini’s Mark Skilton, Global Director, Applications Outsourcing

We better come up with a better title for the Enterprise Architect – Superhero?

Psychology, sociology and communications though are some disciplines I did want to get a degree for back in college. Maybe one day… Interesting how all my interests have come together under EA. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I find EA so intriguing. It’s multi-faceted and not limited to “IT”. It reaches beyond the cold boundaries of technology or corporate games. I guess it’s because behind all that technology are flesh-and-blood, living and breathing and feeling humans. In a way, I chose to go into IT to numb myself from the world and lose myself in bits and bytes and code but there’s no escaping the human drama.

“As a discipline, EA has evolved as a practitioner-based discipline that grew out of the need to have IT professionals that could have an overarching view of the enterprise. EA is also a way for the enterprise to take a holistic view of every level of the organization. Because EAs need to have a holistic view, they also need to be capable of systems thinking. With the focus of IT shifting to the business, EAs now need a set of skills that can encompass many disciplines including an amalgam of systems engineering, IT trends and processes, and organizational theory related fields such as psychology, public administration, communications and sociology.” – Beryl Bellman, Academic Director, FEAC Institute

The following statement made me LOL – probably the most adjectives in one statement ever. Funny but true. Just imagine the amount of pointless meetings you’ve had to sit in and you have the first adjective defined – garrulous.

“Most effective organizations are “garrulous, clumsy, superstitious, hypocritical, monstrous, octopoid, wandering and grouchy.” – Beryl Bellman, Academic Director, FEAC Institute

“Forrester does not believe that Cloud is the “next big thing” in IT—rather, the next big thing is smart computing—which includes smart networks, data centers, mobile devices, and smart applications—of which the cloud is actually just an enabler of these things.” – Forrester Research analyst Henry Peyret

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Posted by rochelleolviga

A Lesson from BP’s Enterprise Architecture Practice

The latest news in the Enterprise Architecture (EA) world is energy company BP’s adoption of IT Capability Maturity Framework (IT-CMF) to assess its EA management capability. Using the IT-CMF process, the company conducted a survey among its architects to identify weaknesses in its EA framework. To address these weaknesses, BP applied solutions which I think we as mid-level managers can find useful whether our organization has an EA program in place or not.

Lesson: How to Bridge the Strategy – Execution Gap
One of the weak areas found in the survey was the link between the Strategic Planning and Portfolio Management process. Sound familiar? It’s the classic Strategy-Execution gap. So how does BP take a crack at this most quintessential of problems? They do so by mapping applications to business processes which in EA parlance is The Application / Business Process Matrix. My last year’s course notes on EA shows it as a 2-dimensional matrix with ‘Business Processes’ on the Y-axis and ‘Applications’ on the X-axis.

My Sketch of a Simple Application / Business Process Matrix

The usefulness of this matrix is, as an IT manager, you can easily see which applications need to be enhanced owing to a particular strategy based on the business units / processes which that strategy touches on. On the other hand, you can provide justification for an application enhancement by showing the business processes that require it and subsequently the strategy behind it. Ultimately, maintaining your own Application / Business Process Matrix for your area of responsibility can help your organization more effectively execute its strategic plans. You can start with a rough sketch and subsequently build on it as your knowledge and experience grows.

BTW, BP takes it a step further by categorizing applications by criticality.

View the news article.

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Posted by rochelleolviga

Beginning Enterprise Architecture

I like Enterprise Architecture. But using the word ‘Like’ and ‘Enterprise Architecture’ in the same sentence seems ripe with skepticism given the current environment. Contradictory interpretations of Enterprise Architecture (EA) abound and has left a lot of people confused and indifferent to it. Several are doubtful of the future of EA adoption. Add this to the existing communication problem between the business and IT departments i.e., tech-speak. Like it or not, the onus lies heavily on IT professionals to go the extra mile to present technical information in a way that is relevant to the business. More so as outsourcing becomes the norm.

The Changing Role of IT Professionals

Those of us who survive the ‘selection process’ are expected to be less technical and more business-like, acting as correlators and translators of business strategies to technical design and vice versa. This is a significant albeit painful shift in perspective in an already change-driven environment. As for EA, in itself it is not a purely technical endeavor but it seems that it is in IT where the beginning waves are formed.

People Don’t Buy What They Don’t Understand

Realistically speaking, people only begin to like what they understand. As an occasional entrepreneur selling my pre-loved stuff on the Internet (e.g. eBay, Craiglist and other sites), I have learned this to be true. Examples: I know the value of having a photo vs. not having one in my ad listing – a good photo draws more views. I also know the value of a good product description – it helps to differentiate my ‘product’ and people may or may not buy but they leave a comment and respond to your email. I also know the value of timing my ad posts – I noticed that posting an ad around the weekend draws the least views. And I also know the value of targeting my stuff to a particular group as well as pricing appropriately – people are more responsive that way.

Doing these things have made me a few sales – yes, few but at least I do not go away frustrated by a lack of response the way I did when I first started out. They take more time but they promote better understanding which leads to interest which leads to a purchase and possibly a future- or cross-sell. Giving confusing information leads to page abandonment or no click-thru at all.

As it is for commodities, so it is for EA. Understanding begets liking OR not liking and the latter is better than utter indifference.

The Business Case for EA

The tragedy of EA appears to be the apathy surrounding it, especially on the part of business. Or is EA simply in the stage which Geoffrey Moore calls The Chasm? I.e., the dark adoption divide between technology enthusiasts and the mainstream majority. Or the adoption gap between visionaries and pragmatists. Until those who hold the purse strings are convinced and find enough financially rewarding reasons to start an EA program, it will be Business As Usual.

Can We Practice EA without an EA Program?

Without a corporate-sponsored EA program, can those of us who believe in the promise of EA practice EA? I believe we can still apply the principles of EA but on a smaller scale. In fact, this approach could be advantageous. Geoffrey Moore (Crossing the Chasm) proposes finding a niche, focusing on it and later on using its success as a reference point to convince the pragmatic (Early Majority) and conservative (Late Majority) adopters. To draw another parallel with my experience hawking second-hand stuff on the Internet, I usually put a ‘SOLD’ sign next to my ad listing after I’ve sold the item – it conveys validity and somehow trustworthiness which hopefully makes other viewers more comfortable to buy from me.

In this blog, I will be posting examples of how to use EA methods, small-scale. Watch the ‘EA in Practice’ category.

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Posted by rochelleolviga