5 years, 8 months ago

Enterprise Architecture as an internal consultancy practice

My present job as a consultant in enterprise architecture got me wondering if consultancy in EA is feasible. EA aims to become a part of the core business structure of an organization. Can external consultants really bring tangible value to that which must be part of a core capability?

Being “external”, they are necessarily not a part of the “core”. If consultants aren’t the proper answer to the problem, why do organizations turn towards them then in the first place? Surely, CIOs would have realised that they were falling short of expectations and consultancy in EA should have known a painful death. Well, fortunately for me and my fellow consultants, that isn’t the case. What is it exactly that we are managing to bring or do right?

The answer lies, I think, in very nature of how an EA practice should be conducted in an organization. EA is expected to work as an internal consultancy in an organization. (I do accept the fact that there are also others ways for EA to function. Benefits can also be gained from these but I have often found that they have a structural problem with the way EA is expected to be conducted ideally.)

The motivations and capabilities are remarkably similar:

  • EA must intervene in a holistic and transverse manner
  • It needs strong stakeholder backing to be effective and the higher the backing the better
  • It aims to be impartial
  • It needs to deliver results consistently and in a timely manner
  • Offering a service to businesses and IT (EA is more than IT)
  • The environment and hurdles change constantly because EA is in the business of managing change.

The skills required of architects are also very similar to skills required of a consultant:

  • To listen, understand needs
  • To identify future needs
  • Have excellent communication skills
  • A keen awareness of organisational politics
  • To work as a team whose members might change regularly
  • Undeterred to suggest change
  • To work with a vision and objective in mind 
  • Multi-disciplinary skills (IT, HR, financial, etc.)
  • Program and project management
  • Being curious and seeking out for new opportunities (market, technological, etc.)

Thus, organizations who seek to initiate or better an EA practice need to look towards consultants to bring in their know-how and work culture. External consultants come in to kick start the work, but a sustained backing is necessary. To be successful, organization also need to identify and foster the skills required for becoming an architect, which are often difficult to find.

The closer EA practice resembles a consultancy that has gained the confidence of stakeholders, the better will the benefits be and the agility gained. 

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5 years, 8 months ago

Modelworld – Free Online modelling Tool

Modelworld is an interesting model that I discovered just sometime back. It’s completely browser supported so no need to install or have a repository.
 It’s still in beta it’s elegant and is a quick and easy tool to draw a few diagrams.
Features:

Co…

5 years, 8 months ago

Archi – Archimate Enterprise Architecture Modelling Tool

Archimate is an exciting modelling tool for Enterprise Architects. It’s a free, Open Source, multi-platform modelling tool based on Eclipse.

It is eextremely easy to install and use, it particularly useful to rapidly prototype a model when needed.

Most prominent features:

  • Free and Open Source!
  • Multi platform
  • Easy to install and use
  • Full support for Archimate 1.0 (Concepts, relationships, templates, definitions, etc.) (and 2.0 to be added very soon)
  • Export and Import features
  • Easy PDF, Word, etc. reporting with the help Jasper Reports
  • Customizable formatting
  • Dynamic Viewpoints
  • Freeform modelling
  • And lots lots more …

The project is also well and alive with frequent releases and features to come are highly promising (adding CDO for multi-user capability with locks, etc.)

So a huge thanks and applause to the contributors!! And visit their website and try out their software at :

http://archi.cetis.ac.uk/index.html

Edit(20/02/2012): Archi 2.2 released wth support for Archimate 2.0.

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5 years, 8 months ago

Open Group San Francisco (2012) – Day 1

This years Open Group Conference was held at San Francisco. Unfortunately, even if I was unable to be present at the event, I followed it closely thanks to twitter.
The conference is an exciting event for all enterprise architects because it lays out t…

5 years, 8 months ago

Open Group San Francisco (2012) – Day 1

This years Open Group Conference was held at San Francisco. Unfortunately, even if I was unable to be present at the event, I followed it closely thanks to twitter.

The conference is an exciting event for all enterprise architects because it lays out the current state of EA with its future orientations. These orientations of course will filter down and come to be implemented in Open Group’s products such as Togaf. They also set an outline for the trajectory for Opengroup’s vision of EA.

I would like to start out by thanking Tom Graves from Tetradian for consolidating all the tweets from the event. You can find them over here:

Tweets from Open Group Conference 2012 (Tom Graves / Tetradian)

I will be giving my thoughts and views on the key moments of the conference. They give a general sense on the direction in which EA is developing, the accomplishments and future hurdles.

Before starting off, a quick look at the personalities present ate the event. 

  • Allen Brown, the acting President and CEO the OpenGroup
  • Jeanne Ross from MIT Sloan’s CISR, a leading researcher in IT management and Enterprise Architecture
  • Celso Guiotoko, Managing director for Renault-Nissan IT & Information Services
  • Andy Mulholland, Global CTO for Capgemini
  • Lauren States, VP and CTO for Cloud Growth Initiatives with IBM
  • Brian Cameron, Executive Director at the Center for Enterprise Architecture, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Alan Hakimi, Senior Enterprise Architect and Worldwide Community Lead for EA at Microsoft
  • Henry Franken, CEO BizzDesign, and many others… 

 

The Importance of demonstrating value behind EA:

Many of the keynotes have focused on the importance of EA to demonstrate value to businesses and this from the very start. The main motivation behind this being deliverability! There is also a shift towards from “Value Chains” to “Value Cycles” in EA which brings us closer to a more business focused practice of EA. I’m planning to right a small article on this subject, so stay tuned!

Demonstrating value with thus undoubtedly take place through increasing exploitability of current capabilities, fostering new ones and measuring maturity and progress. This value should not only be measured and acted upon; it should also be heard about and seen by everybody. Value must be clearly perceived!

EA must also intervene on a strategic level with businesses so as to measure value from top to bottom.

Measuring maturity, ROI and value from and by EA will be among the key problems that architects will have to tackle.

Jeanne Ross:

  • togaf_r: Jeanne Ross: We have to make sure enterprise architecture delivers
  • nickmalik: Jeanne Ross keynote – role of the #entarch – To avoid application silos, we need to think in terms of capabilities
  • systemsflow: “Most companies grossly underuse their capabilities” (Jeane Ross) #entarch
  • Dana_Gardner: Enterprise architects need to evangelize use of improved systems after they build them, and show recurring value ASAP, says Ross
  • mcrugo: Jeanne Ross from mit explains the move from value chains to value cycles in EA
  • nickmalik: – J. Ross – Simply “build” the capabilities – not enough – #entarch  start with helping the business exploit current capabilities.
  • industryleaders: RT @IverPDX: Jeanne Ross of MIT:  EAs add business value by coaching business executives on defining strategy #entarch

Allen Brown:

  • systemsflow: Perception is reality.  If #entarch adds value, but nobody hears it, did the tree fall?
  • stevenunn: Allen Brown, The Open Group CEO: “Enterprise Architects must not only deliver value, but BE SEEN to deliver value”.

Example of demonstrating value – Renault Nissan through: (Celso Guitoko)

1)       BEST – Business Alignment, Enterprise Architecture, Selective Sourcing, Technology Simplification!

2)       Vitesse – Value Innovation Technology, Simplification, Service Excellence

  • Dana_Gardner: Business value at top of IT principles for Nissan, information as asset comes next, then reduce complexity, says Guiotoko #entarch
  • lmelsted: Nissan’s IT based on BEST: Biz Alignment, Ent Arch, Selective Sourcing, Tech Simplification
  • Dana_Gardner: For Guiotoko here’s what works BEST=Business alignment, Enterprise architecture, Selective sourcing, Technology simplification
  • nadsmat2diworld: B.E.S.T. Business alignment, Enterprise Architecture, Selective Sourcing, Technological Simplification. Nissan. #entarch
  • Dana_Gardner: BEST did this for Nissan: Cost per user went from 1.09 to 0.63 on their metrics scale. Wow. #entarch
  • mikejwalker: Using #entarch Nissan reduced cost per user from 1.09 to .63, 230k return, with 404 applications reduced
  • stevenunn: Celso Guiotoko, Nissan CIO: Approach to alliance with Renault was to look at each org separately, and then take a view across both
  • stevenunn: Celso Guiotoko, Nissan CIO: Vitesse program now underway in Nissan: Value Innovation Technology,  Simplification, Service Excellence

Andy Mulhollan:

  • Dana_Gardner: Corporations are purely metrics driven, and IT must advance to that reality, says Mulholland #entarch

Lauren States:

  • stevenunn: Lauren States, IBM: Transformation of IBM through EA has cut operating costs by about $1.5bn ! #entarch
  • Dana_Gardner: #IBM using cloud extensively internally, with lots of big metrics on savings and benefits, says IBM’s States #entarch #cloud
  • mikejwalker: IBM reduces their application portfolio by 2/3 with cloud transformation #entarch

Brian Cameron:

  • stevenunn: Brian Cameron, Center for EA, Penn State University presenting on ROI, value measurement & best practices for the enterprise #entarch
  • systemsflow: Brian Cameron, Penn State Center for #entarch doing research on an EA maturity framework that is not IT centric.  Publishing soon.
  • theopengroup: In Penn State study, ROI was the most popular financial metric used by EAs #entarch #EAvaluemeasurement
  • mikejwalker: Penn State research says ROI is most popular value measure BUT is the worst one to use. #entarch
  • systemsflow: Half the orgs surveyed in Penn State Center for #entarch study have no EA measurement practice in place.

IT is only a small part of EA – the inside out and the outside In

One of the most important ideas, that appeared regularly during the conference, is the fact that EA is “much more than IT”. CIOs and the business in general still unfortunately view EA as a mere IT practice. EA primary goal remains business alignment thus EA is much closer to the business than IT. Clearly this will take some time to gain traction and he will all clearly need to work hard to change the mindset EA currently has.

Andy Mulholland states that there is a key difference between IT and businesses. “IT is Inside Out focused, looking at the problems within the company only whereas the business looks at problems outside-in”. I completely agree with this fact, IT is always preoccupied by the way it functions. Decisions are always take from the current capabilities of IT. Where as businesses evolve from under outside constraints like the market, etc. EA’s purpose is to act as a transmission line between businesses and IT so that business needs are also felt directly by  IT. And if this transmission must be efficient, EA must be placed on the business side.

Of course this raises a question: Who should EA answer to? Answer to follow…

Jeanne Ross:

  • Dana_Gardner: Enterprise architects need to provide “single source of truth” to all business stakeholders, make the information flow well, say Ross
  • theopengroup: .@USAA has an Enterprise Strategy & Planning group – partners with IT and sits on the business side working with senior executives
  • theopengroup: #Entarch role in business value: Help senior execs clarify biz goals; identify architectural capability that can be readily exploited // Present options and their implications for business goals; build capabilities incrementally #entarch #jeanneross
  • industryleaders: RT @IverPDX: Jeanne Ross of MIT:  EAs add business value by coaching business executives on defining strategy #entarch
  • Dave_van_Gelder: Why is EA constantly related to IT and CIO’s?
  • industryleaders: @Dave_van_Gelder It is not only about IT its about a holistic approach its about business strategyand execution

Andy Mulholland:

  • mikejwalker: IT is Inside Out focused, looking at the problems within the company only wheras the business looks at problems Outside In. #entarch
  • mikejwalker: TOGAF EA Methods has to accept anew model  of traditional Inside Out to a TOGAF complemented by a Outside In model #entarch #TOGAF
  • Dana_Gardner: Governance models are the key to re-integration required of inside and outside services, says Mulholland #entarch

Stuart Boardman:

  • systemsflow: Stuart Boardman: “#entarch is more effective if it is outside of IT.”

EA should not report to the CIO but vice-versa

One of the most recurring problems for architects is the fact they are not properly supported by CIOs. To this we can add the difference in approach (see previous point). Finding the proper governing body for EA remains a tricky question. There now seems to be a clear paradigm shift: placing EA above the CIO and IT with strategic planning. This is coherent with the role that EA is expected to play, but making the shift in companies is not going to be easy. EA’s most prominent advocates are still the CIOs and businesses still don’t view it as one of their own. So even if I believe that this is the right way of Enterprise Architecture, we are still quite some distance away from achieving this.

Jeanne Ross:

  • Dana_Gardner: #USAA, as example, created enterprise strategy group aside IT, to organize transformation better (and IT loved it), says Ross
  • theopengroup: “Some day CIOs will report to the architect – that’s the way it ought to be” #entarch
  • stevenunn: Jeanne Ross: A great CIO is the best PR agency for enterprise architects. BUT, one day the CIO will report to the Chief Architect!
  • mikejwalker: One day the CIO will report to Enteprise Architecture Jeanne Ross #entarch
  • Dana_Gardner: “Someday CIOs will report to the enterprise architect, because that’s the way it should be,” says MIT’s Ross, to applause
  • nickmalik: J. Ross – best PR for #entarch is a great CIO but EA needs to build good comm skills and focus on business value of capabilities

Celso Guiotoko

  • stevenunn: Celso Guiotoko, Nissan CIO: IT organization now reports to corporate planning. Very helpful!

Data management will play an increasingly important role in EA

One of the main challenges that EA will soon be facing will be the need to tame “Data”. Data management and information architecture will start to play a significant role in EA.

Jeanne Ross:

  • Dana_Gardner: Quality of data, speed of data refresh as top priorities will help enterprise architects rise in performance appreciation, says Ross
  • stevenunn: Jeanne Ross: Commonwealth Bank started by improving access to its data, fixing data issues along the way, rather than in isolation
  • Dana_Gardner: Even most successful companies are just learning to do analytics well, and strong operations came first, says Ross.
  • stevenunn: Lauren States, IBM: CMOs are underprepared for data explosion & recognize need to invest in & integrate technology & analytics
  • mikejwalker: #IBM highlighting their C-Suite Study – Highlights the CIO surveyhttp://www-935.ibm.com/services/c-suite/cio/study.html #entarch

Recognising and fostering Enterprise architects

The need a more specialized expertise has also been identified. Enterprise architects are no longer just a title that you get after passing a certification but a unique set of skills and know-hows that have to be grown and recognized. You can’t make an architect out of anybody!

Jeanne Ross:

  • stevenunn: Jeanne Ross: in response to where do u find gr8 architects? “Mostly by growing them: taking smart people & giving them opportunities”
  • nickmalik: J. Ross – good #entarch is grown not made – we need to take smart people and give them opportunities to grow + good education
  • brendabizz: At #ogSFO Ross says u must grow talented people:training smart, passionate people,train them and use talented vendor resources

« Too much money » = Bad EA

A well known truth, too much money is bad for EA J.

Jeanne Ross :

  • Dana_Gardner: “If you have a lot of money, don’t worry about enterprise architecture,” says MIT’s Ross. #Entarch
  • nickmalik: companies with “too much money” have terrible #entarch and business process arch – J. Ross
  • theopengroup: “Investment banking is an example of the worst #entarch. Cannot impose discipline if your org has too much money.” #JeanneRoss

New market for EA for small companies

As EA mature more and more, smaller organizations are also beginning to see the benefits. Unfortunately their needs aren’t still catered to. There is an untapped market for EA. And frameworks, governance methods, etc. have to be adapted to meet this growing demand.

 

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5 years, 9 months ago

Keynes Vs. Hayek in Enterprise Architecture

A recent article that appeared in the Economist – The World in 2012 entitled “Keynes vs Hayek in China” inspired a few thoughts and questions on how similar the practice of Enterprise architecture was with the art of defining a country’s econom…

5 years, 9 months ago

Keynes Vs. Hayek in Enterprise Architecture

A recent article that appeared in the Economist – The World in 2012 entitled “Keynes vs Hayek in China” inspired a few thoughts and questions on how similar the practice of Enterprise architecture was with the art of defining a country’s economic policy.

The article considers how John Maynard Keynes’s “General Theory” and Friedrich Hayek’s ideas continue to influence and to mold modern day Chinese economic policy. In a nutshell, even though Keyne’s theories were considered capitalist and not relevant with communist ideals, these ideas were embraced by Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao who championed massive stimulus packages to foster entrepreneurial employment and thus economic growth. But Xi Jinping and Li Kepiang (Hu and Wen’s most probable successors) will probably embrace Hayek’s (Keynes’ arch-nemesis) view when considering current economic instabilities. Hayek states that massive investments in projects will undoubtedly lead to an increasing number of “malinvestments” (risky investments that won’t necessarily bear fruit). These will undermine investor confidence in difficult times and stifle future investments thus increasing the risk of economic downturn.

What lessons can EA architects and CIOs draw from these events? Can a parallel be found between the practice of EA within a company and the way economic policy is established and carried out, especially in times of economic crisis? Are tough economic circumstances an obstacle to the practice of EA or on the contrary a driver to gain more leverage? 

Parallels between EA and macro-economics

Before continuing any further on, it is necessary that I define what I understand by Enterprise Architecture or EA for short.

I have a personal preference for the following definition: Entreprise Architecture is a continuous practice that seeks to describe and understand an organization from all aspects (cultural, sociological, functional, and technical) and their relationships to each other and the environment. Overcoming complexity, inducing change that is motivated by the delivery of business strategy and increasing agility, resilience and sustainability of the organisation are EA’s primary objectives.

So what exactly does this practice share with macro-economic policy?
A country, similarly to an organisation,  is a diverse melting pot of individuals each striving to achieve their own goals amidst countless variables such as natural events, politics, external market conditions, innovation, other individuals, etc. just to name a few. Politicians and policy makers strive so as to understand, master and steer “the chaos”. An ambition equally shared by enterprise architects.

Undoubtedly, the driving forces, the scale and the tools are very much different. But the broader goal remains the same: ensuring the proper realization of policy and objectives so as to achieve greater flexibility, efficiency, robustness, longevity and profit while assuring the operational status.

Balancing this delicate equation has preoccupied economists and leaders and recent short comings of financial markets is a clear indication that there is still matter to cover. But surely EA can learn something from all of this.

The key ingredients

Enterprise architecture can be compared to a large infrastructure project lead by a country which seeks to transform the economic bloodlines of a company. Is enterprise architecture a risky investment in times of difficulty? Should CxOs take or should not take a Keynesian stand towards EA?

The backing EA will get from the CIOs depends entirely to which degree they view EA as a “malinvestment” or not. In times of economic downturn, CIOs will seek to ensure their viability of their decisions when faced with less funding. When faced with this challenge, an architect’s goal is to prove that EA can deliver not only the long term but also short term tangible results.

EA is uniquely fine tuned to be able to answer to this. But I believe that there are 2 key ingredients that will continue to ensure the sustainability of EA’s results. These ingredients are: To what degree can the company’s strategic goals live up to the new economic circumstances? Does EA continue to be backed up consistently by the organisation’s key stakeholders (CxOs, operational managers, etc.)?

Strategic goals evolve. It is best if they evolve under ambition but external constraints also have to be taken into account. Thus goals have to be revised especially during hard times. And EA can play a key role by advising the decision makers on the implication of various scenarios so that they may make a fully informed decision.

The faith and confidence that business leaders place in EA is also vital. EA has the capability to induce transformation on an organization’s structure and business, but such change can be realised if there isn’t a sustained driving force behind. The simplest way to gain confidence is to demonstrate the benefits. Thus architects need to be especially keen on the valuation of their suggestions which is no easy task.

Furthermore, hard times can be an opportunity to innovate. Innovation and change is driven by need, by lack of satisfaction and constraint. A company where all is well often doesn’t feel the need to change. Why should it? Stability does not foster change. EA can gain leverage on the need for change to push forward.

The promises that EA can deliver

When the previous two ingredients are present, how should EA react? “The art of war” of Sun Tzu holds a possible answer: prioritising and concentrating ones effort on a single tangible goal with promising gains.

EA can consolidate, prioritise and ensure that the actions that are taken strive to achieve the overall goals. Combining EA with frameworks like IT CMF and COBIT, it is possible to fully measure and control this impact, an impact that is even more important in challenging circumstances. Of course, there are certain prerequisites that have to be met. The more mature a company is in defining and governing its internal processes and EA practice, the easier it will be to gain leverage on them.

I would personally like to view harsh economic conditions as an opportunity for change. Organizations with a lot of money often have the worst practice of EA. The investment banking sector is good example. A CIO should be stingy with his funds but generous with his support of EA. And with a pragmatic architect who can identify “malinvestements” and tangible profit areas, we just might have a winning combination and a means to beat the market.

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I feel that there is still matter for thought on this subject. This is my first rudimentary attempt to piece together my ideas. I will try and publish a more detailed article on this topic after a little more research. Please feel free to share your views and ideas with me!

Photo Credits :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Maynard_Keynes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Hayek

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