Part II: Focus on business value, not the toolby: Bill Cason – Troux CTO – July 10th, 2012
When enterprises realize they have a complex problem, the easiest response is to think: We just need a “tool”. This is the second of the Top Three common mistakes Enterprise Architects (EAs) make when starting (or re-starting) a program. In this scenario the mistake is fixating on how to address the complexity of the problem, rather than focusing on which questions to answer and how to deliver quantifiable business value.
If you get the tool first, you have essentially come to the conclusion that you are going to automate a process you may not have. If you do not already have defined processes, you should not try to automate them.
Ensure you have these three success factors in place before you embark on automating the process and then you can select the right tool for the job: #1 – a laser focus on business value, #2 – the EA adoption process, and #3 – flexible EA technology.
Focus on business value first
Our team has a methodology to help our customers agree on exactly what they want to accomplish. We hold a success planning workshop with the key stakeholders and insist the executive sponsor join. Out of this comes a short list of high-priority business questions the team wants to answer. This establishes what is important, and prioritizes next steps.
The team can then remain laser focused on these business questions in order to get the outputs needed to answer them. These outputs will be purposed by a set of data, and that will help identify who the data stewards are, how to get the data, and how long it is going to take.
The team must keep its focus on these business questions – it is very seductive to go and get too much information, because the amount of information you can get is unbounded. Rather, keep the end in mind, know the outcome you want, and stay focused on that.
Adopt an EA process
Often the critical processes needed to ensure the business receives the value of EA are not in place, or they are relatively immature.
EA adoption is to a large extent about organizational change management – identifying the roles and responsibilities of all the stakeholders and specifying how EA deliverables fit in your enterprise portfolio management program.
At Troux we have developed a set of best practices that enable our customers to become self-sufficient and implement a sustainable EA program. The focus is to deliver value early and often. The best practice is based on a four-step approach that proceeds from defining the success criteria, creating quality data, information analysis, and delivering business value.
This approach conditions the organization to be supportive of EA processes and positions the stakeholders to immediately gain value from the automaton the tool provides.
Succeed with flexible EA technology
Most people start off with Excel, Visio or Powerpoint, but quickly reach a point that scale and business complexity render these tools inefficient and ineffective. Information and data become too dynamic, and too complex in their relationships.
Troux is often engaged by enterprises to help them identify opportunities for application rationalization and modernization. We recommend processes be put in place that establish stewardship over the data in order to illustrate the state of their application portfolio. For example: who owns the application data, how often is the data updated, how is the business going to govern changes to application data and govern the quality of that data. To accomplish this you must have flexible technology that fits the way your organization operates.
At the end of the day, all businesses have their own unique cultures and behaviours. Organizations also grow and change over time. To be successful, consider using a technology that is flexible enough to meet the needs of your business today and into the future as your EA program evolves. It is important to realize that highly prescriptive and inflexible technologies will not meet the needs of most mature organizations.
Knowing you have a problem is a good first step – but simply getting a tool won’t fix it. Instead, you risk starting a program that will be cancelled because you fail to deliver business value in a timeframe that management expects. Instead, ensure you have a focus on business value, implement a clear EA adoption process and select a technology flexible enough to fit your organization’s needs today and tomorrow.
Keep the end in mind, stay focused on that, and you will achieve true and quantifiable business value for the enterprise.
Read other articles in this three-part series: How to avoid common mistakes with your EA Program:
- Part I: Overcome the experience gap when initiating a new program
- Part III: Just say no to modelling the universe