If day one of the Troux Worldwide Conference was about the need to drive short-term value from EA, day two was about how to get those fast results. The lessons came from Troux customers who have delivered millions of dollars worth in savings by building EA efforts from the ground up.
The key themes:
- Start Small: Rather than “boiling the ocean,” focus first on specific business pain points, such as bloated IT costs or the risk of running applications that vendors no longer support. Dell, for example, began its EA efforts with relatively small, project-based efforts but is now on the path to saving $200-500 million by moving to fewer than 100 strategic applications and 60 strategic architectures to support the $55 billion global enterprise.
- Speak the Language of Business: Use terms like “quote to cash” rather than about application models or frameworks. The same holds true even when you’re showing, not telling. Michael Pemberton, enterprise architect at USAA told attendees not show business managers EA models because they don’t care about them. He instead developed a circular visualization showing how business functions serve the customer.
- Build for the Long-Term: Troux CTO Bill Cason rankled Packers fans by calling longtime Green Bay Coach Vince Lombardi a poor coach because, after Lombardi’s death, the team didn’t win a Super Bowl for years. His point: EA is too important to be done through the heroic actions of individual contributors. Build processes, and staffs, that assure EA information is kept current and its proper use is made part of the corporate culture.
- Be Flexible: Be ready to change, whether the disruption is from a merger, acquisition, or your boss’ addiction to restructuring every six months. Build processes and staffs that can cope with sudden changes or spikes in demand. Dell, for example, deploys 5-10 person “SWAT” teams “whose job is to attack the tricky, hairy problems,” says Business Information Executive Angela Yochem. By developing a prototype of a new application in a fraction of the time required by the regular IT team, these teams build fast credibility for the EA organization.
- Track Your Results: Richard Reese, VP of Enterprise Architecture at Discover Financial Services, advised the attendees to keep a “value log” based on business metrics that tracks the value delivered by your EA effort. Those might be hard dollar savings, cost-avoidance or process improvement. Reese should know: In 2009 his EA effort delivered $500,000 through application optimization and $1.8 million in expense avoidance, with another $390,000 in savings in the first quarter of 2010.
Reese, whose work at Discover with Troux earned Discover InfoWorld’s 2010 Enterprise Architecture Award, summed up the conference theme when he said “If you don’t have the information at hand when the business is ready to make a decision, you will be irrelevant and the business will move on without you.”
Energized by two days of intense learning, networking and Texas sun, the 350 Troux customers and industry experts left with new energy and knowledge to become not just relevant, but business leaders.