8 years, 1 month ago

Announcing Upcoming Book: Systems Thinking in Enterprise Architecture

Dr. John Gøtze and I have announced the forthcoming publication of a new book titled: Systems Thinking in Enterprise Architecture. The book, which targets the intersection of practitioners and academics, explores the important, notional relationship between Enterprise Architecture (EA), systems thinking, and cybernetics. A wide array of authors have been invited to contribute to the book resulting in a total of 20 chapters on the topic. 

Systems Thinking in Enterprise Architecture is still the working title of the book and it expected to change once all chapters have been reconciled. The book will be published in the Systems Thinking and Systems Engineering Series by College Publications, thus marking the successor to the remarkable volume 1: A Journey Through the Systems Landscape by Harold “Bud” Lawson, who is also one of the joint contributors to our book.
In order to read more about the book, please refer to the ITU Enterprise web site for deadlines, list of contributors, and publication guidelines. If you are interested in contributing, please do not hesitate to send us a draft manuscript!
8 years, 1 month ago

Short Cycle, Agile, Level of Effort efforts, and Changes in Roles and Responsibilities

In a recent post I briefly discussed the changes in roles and emphasis when a development or transformation effort changes from a waterfall (Big Bang) effort to a short cycle-agile effort.  This post will discuss the topic in more detail in terms …

8 years, 2 months ago

Product Architecture Thinking Versus System Architecture Thinking

Cultural Thinking about Architecture
Until the early 1960s, the discipline of architecture (or functional design) focused on the creation/design/ development/implementation of products like buildings, cars, ships, aircraft, and so on.  Actually, other than buildings, most of the Architects were called “functional” designers, or some such term, to differentiate them from detailed designers and engineers/design analysts.  This is part of the reason that most people associate architecture and an architect with the design of homes, skyscrapers, and other buildings, but not with products, systems, or services.  In fact Architects themselves are having a hard time identifying their role.

In the late 1990s, the US Congress mandated that all Federal Departments must have an Enterprise Architecture to purchase new IT equipment and software.  The thrust of the reasoning was that a Department should have an overall plan, which makes a good deal of sense.  I suspect the term “Enterprise Architecture” to denote the unification of the supporting tooling, though they could have used “Enterprise IT Engineering” in the manner of Manufacturing Engineering, which unifies the processes, procedures, functions, and methods of the assembly line.  And yet, Enterprise Architecture means something more, as embodied the the Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF).  The architecture team that created this framework to recognize that processes, systems, and other tooling must support the organization’s Vision and Mission.  However, its up to the organization and Enterprise Architect to implement processes that can populate and use the data in the framework effectively.  And that’s the rub.

Functions vs Processes and Products vs Systems
In the late 1990s and early 2000s the DoD referred to armed drones as Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAVs), then in the later 2000s, they changed the name of the concept to Unmanned Combat Air Systems (UCAS).  Why?

There are three reasons having to do with a change in western culture, the most difficult changes for any organization.  These are: 1) a change from linear process understanding to linear and cyclic, 2) a change from thinking about a set of functions to understanding a function as part of a process, and a change in thinking from product to system.

Linear vs Cyclic Temporal Thinking
Product thinking is creating something in a temporally linear fashion, that is, creating a product has a start and an end.  D. Boorstin in the first section of his book, The Discovers, discusses the evolution of the concept of time, from its cyclic origins through the creation of a calendar to the numbering of years, to the concept of history as a sequence of events.  To paraphrase Boorstin, for millennia all human thinking and human society was ruled by the yearly and monthly cycles of nature.  Gradually, likely starting with the advent of clans and villages a vague concept of a linear series of events formed.  Still, the cycles of life are still at the core of most societies (e.g., in the east, the Hindu cycles, and the Chinese year, and in the West, Christmas and New Years, and various national holidays). 

The concept of history change cultural thinking from cycles to a progression through a series of linear temporal events (events in time that don’t repeat and cause other events to occur).  In several centuries this concept of history permeated Western Culture.  The concept of history broke and flattened the temporal cycles into a flat line of events.  With this concept and with data, information, and knowledge, in the form of books, meant that Western culture now had the ability to fully understand the concept of progress.  Adam Smith applied this concept to manufacturing, in the form of a process, which divided the process into functions (events), and which ended up producing many more products from the same inputs of raw materials, labor, and tooling.

Function vs Process

In the Chapter 1 of Book 1 of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (commonly called The Wealth of Nations), Adam Smith discussed the concept of  the”Division of Labour”.  This chapter is the most important chapter of his book and the concept of the Division of Labor is the most important concept; far more important than “the invisible hand” concept or any of the others.  It is because this concept of a process made from discrete functions is the basis for all of the manufacturing transformation of the Industrial Revolution.  Prior to this, the division of labor was an immature and informal concept; after, many cottage industrialists adopted the concept or were put out of business by those that did.

Adam Smith did this by using a very simple example, the making of straight pins.  In this example he demonstrated that eight men each serving in a specialized function could make more than 10 times the number of pins in a day when compared with each of the men performing all the functions.  He called it the division of labor; we call it “functional specialization“.

Functional specialization of skills and tooling permeates Western Culture and has led to greater wealth production than any prior concept that has been created.  Consequently, as Western Civilization accreted knowledge, the researchers, engineering, and skilled workers became more expert in their specialized function and increasingly less aware of the rest of the process.

Currently, most organizations are structured by function, HR, accounting, contracts, finance, marketing or business development, and so on.  In manufacturing there are designers (detailed design engineers), engineers (analysts of the design), manufacturing engineers and other Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).  Each of these functions vie with one another for funding to better optimize their particular function.  And most organizations allocate funding to these functions (or sometimes groups of functions) for the type of optimization.

Unfortunately, allocating funds by function is a very poor way to allocate funds.  There is a principle in Systems Engineering that, “Optimizing the sub-systems, sub-optimizes the system“.   J.B. Quinn, in “Managing Innovation: Controlled Chaos”, (Harvard Business Review, May-June 1985), demonstrated this principle, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1–Function vs Process Funding
As shown in Figure 1, at the bottom where you cannot really see it, for every unit of money invested in a function, the organization will get, at best, one unit of money improvement in the total process.  However, if the investment effects more than one function would yield 2(N-1)-1 in total improvement in the process.  So focusing on investing in the process will yield much better results and focusing on the function.  This is the role of the Enterprise Architect, and the organization’s process and systems engineer using the Mission Alignment process.  While this point was intuitively understood by manufacturing (e.g., assembly line manufacturing engineering) for well over 150 years, and was demonstrated in 1985, somehow Functional Management is not willing to give up their investment decision perquisite.
Product vs System

Influenced by the Wealth of Nations, from about 1800 on, industries, first in Britain, then across the Western world, and finally globally, used Adam Smith’s concept of a process as an assembly line of functions to create more real value than humankind had ever produced before.  But this value was in the form of products–things.  Developing new “things” is a linear process.  It starts with an idea, an invention, or an innovation.  Continues with product development to initial production and marketing.  Finally, if successful, there is a ramp up of production, which continues until superseded by a new product.  This is the Waterfall Process Model. 

The organization that manufactured the product had only the obligation to ensure that the product would meet the specifications the organization advertised at the time the customer purchased the product, and in a very few cases, early in the product’s life cycle.  Generally, these specifications were so general, so non-specific, and so opaque that the manufacturing company could not be held responsible.  In fact, a good many companies that are over 100 years old, exist only because they actually supported their product and its specifications.  Their customers turned into their advertising agency.

This model is good for development (what some call product realization) and transformation projects, but the model has two fatal flaws, long term.  The first (as I discuss in my post Systems Engineering, Product/System/Service Implementing, and Program Management) is that the waterfall process is based on the assumption that “All of the requirements have been identified up front“; a heroic assumption to say the least (and generally completely invalid).  The second has equal impact and was caused by the transportation and communications systems of the 1700s to the 1950s.  This flaw is that “Once the product leaves of the factory it is no longer the concern of the manufacturer.”

This second flaw in historical/straight line/waterfall thinking effects both the customer and the supplier.  The customer had and has a hard time keeping the product maintained.  For example, most automobile companies in the 1890s did not have dealerships with service departments; in fact they did not have dealerships, as such.  Instead, most automobiles were purchased by going to the factory or ordering by mail.  And even today, most automobile manufacturers don’t fully consider the implications of disposal when design a vehicle.  So they are thinking of an automobile as a product not a system or system of systems (which would include the road system and the fuel production and distribution systems.  The flavor of this for the United States is in its disposable economic thinking; in everything from diapers to houses (yes, houses…many times people are purchasing houses in the US housing slump, knocking them down, to build larger much more expensive housing…at least in some major metropolitan areas).  Consequently, nothing is built to last, but is a consumable product.

Systems Thinking and The Wheel of Progress
Since the 1960s, there has been a very slow, but growing trend toward cyclic thinking with organizations.  Some of this is due to the impact of the environmental movement, and ecosystems models.  More of this change in thinking is due to the realization that there really is a “wheel of progress”.  Like a wheel on a cart, the wheel of progress goes through cycles to move forward.
 
The “cycle” of the “wheel of progress” is the OODA Loop Process, that is, Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) loop.  The actual development or transformation of a system occurs during the “Act” function.  This can be either a straight-line, “waterfall-like” process or a short-cycle “RAD-like” process.  However, only when the customer observes the of the transformed system in operation, orients the results of the observation of the system in operation to the organization’s Vision and Mission to determine if it is being effective and cost efficient, then deciding to act or not during the rest of the cycle.  The key difference between product and systems thinking is that each “Act” function is followed by an “Observe” function.  In other words, there is a feedback loop to ensure that the output from the process creates the benefits required and that any defects in the final product are caught and rectified in the next cycle before the defect causes harm.  For example, Ford treated is Bronco SUV as a product rather than a system.  “Suddenly”, tire blowouts on the SUV contributed to accidents, in some of which the passengers were killed.  If Ford had treated the Bronco as a system, rather than a product, and kept metrics on problems that the dealers found, then they might have caught the problem much earlier.  Again, last year, Toyota, also treating their cars as products rather than systems, found a whole series of problems.

OODA Loop velocity
USAF Col. John Boyd, creator of the OODA Loop felt that the key to success in both aerial duels and on the battlefield is that the velocity through the OODA Loop cycle was faster than your opponent’s.  Others have found that this works with businesses and other organizations as well.  This is the seminal reason to go to short cycle development and transformation.  Short cycle in this case would be 1 to 3 months, rather than the “yearly planning cycle” of most organizations.  Consequently, all observations, orientation and deciding should be good enough, not develop for the optimal, there isn’t one. [this follows the military axiom that Grant,  Lee, Jackson, and even Patton followed “Doing something now is always better than doing the right thing later”.]  Expect change because not all of the requirements are known, and even if they are known, the technological and organizational (business) environment will change within one to three months.  But remember the organization’s Mission, and especially its Vision, change little over time; therefore the performance the metrics, the metrics that measure how optimal the current systems and proposed changes are, will change little.  So these metrics are the guides in this environment of continuous change.  Plan and implement for upgrade and change, not stability–this is the essence of an agile systems. 

This is true of hardware systems as well as software.  For example, in 1954, Haworth Office Furniture started building movable wall partitions to create offices.  Steel Case and Herman Miller followed suit in the early 1960s.  At that point, businesses and other organizations could lease all or part of a floor of an office building.  As the needs of the organization changed these partitions could be reconfigured.  This made for agile office space, or office systems (and the bane of most office workers, the cubicle), but allows the organization to make most effective and cost efficient use of the space it has available.

The Role of the Systems Engineering Disciplines
There are significant consequences for the structure of an organization that is attempting to be highly responsive to the challenges and opportunities presented to it, while in its process for achieving its Mission and Vision in a continuously changing operational and technical environment.  It has to operate and transform itself in an environment that is much more like basketball (continuous play) than American football (discrete plays from the scrimmage line with its downs)–apologies to any international readers for this analogy.  This requires continuous cyclic transformation (system transformation) as opposed to straight line transformation (product development). 

Treating Process in Product Thinking Terms
Starting in the 1980s, after the publication of Quality is Free, by Phil Crosby in 1979, the quality movement and quality circles, the concept of Integrated Product Teams (IPTs, which some changed to Integrated Product and Process Teams, IPPTs) organizations have been attempts to move from a focus on product thinking toward a focus on system thinking).  Part of this was in response to the Japanese lean process methods, stemming in part from the work of Edward Deming and others.  First international attempt to is ISO 9000 quality Product Thinking (starting in 2002), though in transition to Systems thinking, since it is a one time straight-through (Six Sigma) methodology, starting with identifying a process or functional problem and ending with a change in the process, function, or supporting system.

Other attempts at systems thinking were an outgrowth of this emphasis on producing quality products (product thinking).  For example, the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) approach, conceptualized in 1987. The BSC was attempting to look at all dimensions of an organization by measuring multiple dimensions.  It uses four dimensions to measure the performance of an organization and its management instead of measure the performance of an organization on more than the financial dimension.  The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) built layer four, measurement, into the Capability Maturity Model for the same purpose.

In 1990, Michael Hammer began to create the discipline of Business Process Reengineering (BPR), followed by others like Tom Peters and Peter Drucker.  This discipline treats the process as a process rather than as a series of functions.  It is more like the Manufacturing Engineering discipline that seeks to optimize the processes with respect to cost efficiency per unit produced.  For example, Michael Hammer would say that no matter size of an organization, it’s books can closed at the end of each day, not by spending two weeks at the end of the business or fiscal year “closing the books”.  Or in another example, you can tell if an organization is focused on functions or processes by its budgeting model; either a process budgeting model or a functional budgeting model.

Like the Lean concept, and to some degree, ISO 9000, ITIL,and other standards, BPR does little to link to the organization’s Vision and Mission, as Jim Collins discusses in Built to Last (2002); or as he puts the BHAG, BIG HARRY AUDACIOUS GOALS.  Instead, it focuses on cost efficiency (cost reduction through reducing both waste and organizational friction, one type of waste) within the business processes.

System Architecture Thinking and the Enterprise Architect
In 1999, work started on the Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF) with a very traditional four layer architecture, business process, application, data, and technology.  In 2001, a new version was released that included a fifth layer, the Performance Reference Model.  For the first time the FEAF links all of the organization’s processes and enabling and supporting technology to its Vision and Mission.  Further, if properly implemented, it can do this in a measurable manner (see my post Transformation Benefits Measurement, the Political and Technical Hard Part of Mission Alignment and Enterprise Architecture).  This enables the Enterprise Architect to perform in the role that I have discussed in several of my posts and in comments in some of the groups in the LinkedIn site.  These are decision support for investment decision-making processes and support for the governance and policy management processes (additionally, I see the Enterprise Architect as responsible for the Technology Change Management process for reasons that I discuss in Technology Change Management: An Activity of the Enterprise Architect).   Further, successful organizations will use a Short Cycle investment decision-making (Mission Alignment) and implementing (Mission Implementation) process, for reasons discussed above. [Sidebar: there may be a limited number of successful project that need multiple years to complete.  For example, large buildings, new designs for an airframe of aircraft, large ships–all very large construction effort, while some like construction or reconstruction of highways can be short cycle efforts–much to the joy of the motoring public.]   The Enterprise Architect (EA), using the OODA Loop pattern, has continuous measured feedback as the change operates.  Given that there will be a learning curve for all changes in operation; still, the Enterprise Architect is in the best position to provide guidance as to what worked and what other changes are needed to further optimize the organization’s processes and tooling to support its Mission and Vision.  Additionally, because the EA is accountable for the Enterprise Architecture, he or she has the perspective of entire organization’s processes and tooling, rather than just a portion and is in the position to make recommendations on investments and governance.

System Architecture Thinking and the Systems Engineer and System Architect
One consequence of the short-cycle processes is that all short-cycle efforts are “level of effort” based.  Level of Effort is a development or transformation effort is executed using a given a set level of resources over the entire period of the effort.  Whereas in a waterfall-like “Big Bang” process scheduling the resources to support the effort is a key responsibility of the effort (and the PM), with the short-cycle the work must fit into the cycles. With the waterfall, the PM could schedule all of the work by adding resources or lengthened the time required to design, develop, implement and verify; now the work must fit into a given time and level of resource.  Now, the PM can’t do either because they are held constant.
 If, in order to make an agile process, we use axiom that “Not all of the requirements are known at the start of the effort”, rather than the other way around, then any scheduling of work beyond the current cycle is an exercise in futility because as the number of known requirements increases, some of the previously unknown requirements will be of higher priority for the customer than any of the known requirements.  Since a Mission of a supplier is to satisfy the needs of the customer, each cycle will work on the highest priority requirements, which means that some or many of the known requirements will be “below the line” on each cycle.  The final consequence of this is that some of the originally known requirements will not be met by the final product.  Instead, the customer will get the organization’s highest priority requirements fulfilled.  I have found that when this is the case, the customer is more delighted with the product, takes greater ownership of the product, and finds resources to continue with the lower priority requirements.

On the other hand, not fulfilling all on the initially known requirements (some of which were not real requirements, some of which contradicted other requirements) gives PMs, the contracts department, accountants, lawyers, and other finance engineers the pip!  Culturally,generally  they are incapable of dealing in this manner; their functions are not built to handle it when the process is introduced.  Fundamentally making the assumption that “Not all the requirements are known up front” makes the short-cycle development process Systems Requirements-based instead of Programmatic Requirements-based.  This is the major stumbling block to the introduction of this type of process because it emphasizes the roles of the Systems Engineer and System Architect and de-emphasizes the role of the PM.

The customer too, must become accustomed to the concept, though in my experience on many efforts, the once the customer unders the customer’s role in this process, the customer becomes delighted.  I had one very high-level customer that said after the second iteration through one project, “I would never do any IT effort again that does not use this process.”

8 years, 2 months ago

Five Implications of “All Architecture is Local”

In my earlier post I argue that to provide value quickly, architecture needs to be thought of in the context of local needs more than enterprise needs. Here are five implications of architecting locally: Solve a local problem, not the … Continue reading

8 years, 2 months ago

This Week in Bad Architecture: What Floor is the AirTrain?

Here’s one of my favorite pictures of bad architecture that I use frequently in my presentations to non-architects. These pictures are from an elevator at Terminal 3 at JFK. Clearly there are at least three departments at JFK, each with … Continue reading

8 years, 2 months ago

Systems Engineering, Product/System/Service Implementing, and Program Management

A Pattern for Development and Transformation Efforts

Recently a discussion started in a LinkedIn Group that recruiters, HR, and Management was using the term “Systems Engineer” indiscriminately.   The conclusion was that the discipline of Systems Engineering and the role of the Systems Engineer in Development and Transformation Efforts is poorly understood by most people, and perhaps by many claiming to be Systems Engineers.  In my experience of building a Systems Engineer group from 5 to 55, I can attest to this conclusion.
Currently, I am working on a second book, with the working title of “Systems Engineering, System Architecture, and Enterprise Architecture“.  In the book, I’m attempting to distill 45+ years of experience and observation of many efforts, from minor report revisions to the Lunar Module, F-14, B-2, and X-29 aircraft creation efforts, to statewide IT outsourcing efforts.  This post contains excerpts of several concepts from this manuscript.
The Archetypal Pattern for Product/System/Service Development and Transformation
At a high level there is an architectural process pattern for Product/System/Service development and transformation.  I discuss this pattern in my current book, Organizational Economics: The Formation of Wealth, and it is one key pattern for my next book.  This pattern is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1–The Three Legged Stool Pattern

As shown in Figure 1, the architectural process model posits that all development and transformation efforts are based on the interactions of three functions (or sub-processes), Systems Engineering, Design and Implementation, and Program Management.  This is true whether a homeowner is replacing a kitchen faucet or NASA is building a new spacecraft.  Each of these sub-processes is a role with a given set of skills.

Consequently, as shown in Figure 1, I call this process pattern “The Three-legged Stool” pattern for development and transformation.  I will discuss each sub-process as a role with requirements.  Therefore, this is what I see as the needs or requirements for the process and the skills for the role.  In my next book, I will discuss more about how these can be done.

As shown in Figure 1, the program management role is to enable and support the other two roles with financial resources and expect results, in the form of a product/system/service meeting the customer’s requirements.
Systems Engineering (and System Architecture) Role
The first role is the Systems Engineer/System Architect.  This role works with the customer to determine the requirements–“what is needed.”  I’ve discussed this role in several posts including Enterprise Architecture and System Architecture and The Definition of the Disciplines of Systems Engineering.  Three key functions of this sub-process are:
These are the key responsibilities for the role, though from the posts, cited above, “The devil (and complexity of these) is in the detail“.
The key issue with the Systems Engineering/System Architect role within a project/program/effort is that the requirements analysis procedure becomes analysis paralysis.  That is, the Systems Engineer (at least within the “waterfall” style effort, that assumes that all of the requirements are known upfront) will spend an inordinate amount of time “requirements gathering”; holding the effort up, to attempt to insure that all of the requirements are “know”–which is patently impossible.
 I will discuss solutions to this issue in the last two sections of this post.
Design and Implementation Role
When compared with Systems Engineering, the Design and Implementation functions, procedures, methods, and role are very well understood, taught, trained, and supported with tooling.  This role determines “How to meet the customer’s needs“, as expressed in the “What is needed (requirements)”, as shown in Figure 1.  These are the product/system/service designer, developers, and implementers of the transformation; the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) that actually create and implement.  These skills are taught in Community Colleges, Colleges, Universities, Trade Schools, and on-line classes.  The key sub-processes, procedures, functions, and methods are as varied as the departments in the various institutions of higher learning just mentioned.

There is a significant issue with designers and implementers, they attempt to create the “best” product ever and go into a never ending set of design cycles.  Like the Systems Engineering “analysis paralysis”, this burns budget and time without producing a deliverable for the customer.  One part of this problem is that the SMEs too often forget is that they are developing or transforming against as set of requirements (The “What’s Needed“).  In the hundreds of small, medium, and large efforts in which I’ve been involved, I would say that the overwhelming percentage of time, the SMEs never read the customer’s requirements because they understand the process, procedure, function, or method far better than the customer.  Therefore, they implement a product/system/service that does not do what the customer wants, but does do many functions that the customer does not want.  Then the defect management process takes over to rectify these two; which blows the budget and schedule entirely, while making the customer unhappy, to say the least. The second part of this problem is that each SME role is convinced that their role is key to the effort.  Consequently, they develop their portion to maximize its internal efficiency while completely neglecting the effectiveness of the product/system/service.  While I may be overstating this part somewhat, at least half the time, I’ve seen efforts where, security for example, attempts to create the equivalent of “write only memory”; the data on it can never be used because the memory cannot be read from.  This too, burns budget and schedule while adding no value.

Again, I will discuss solutions to this issue in the last two sections of this post.

Program Management Role
As shown in Figure 1, the role, procedures, and methods of Program Management is to support and facilitate Systems Engineering and Design and Implementation roles.   This is called Leadership.   An excellent definition of leadership is attributed to Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher of approximately 2500 years ago.  As I quoted in my book, Organizational Economics: The Formation of Wealth:
  • The best of all leaders is the one who helps people so that, eventually, they don’t need him.
  • Then comes the one they love and admire.
  • Then comes the one they fear.
  • The worst is the one who lets people push him around.
Where there is no trust, people will act in bad faith.  The best leader doesn’t say much, but what he says carries weight.  When he is finished with his work, the people say, “It happened naturally“.”[1]
[1] Lao Tzu, This quote is attributed to Lao Tzu, but no source of the quote has been discovered.
If the program manager does his or her job correctly, they should never be visible to the customer or suppliers; instead they should be the conductor and coordinator of resources for the effort.  Too often the project and program managers forget that this is their role and what the best type of leader is. Instead, they consider themselves as the only person responsible for the success of the effort and “in control” of the effort.  The method for this control is to manage the customer’s programmatic requirements (the financial resources and schedule).  This is the the way it works today.

The Way This Works Today: The Program Management Control Pattern

There are two ways to resolve the “requirements analysis paralysis” and the “design the best” issues, either by the Program Manager resolving it, or through the use of a process that is designed to move the effort around these two landmines.

The first way is to give control of the effort to manager.  This is the “traditional” approach and the way most organization’s run development and transformation efforts .  The effort’s manager manages the customer’s programmatic requirements, (budget and schedule), so the manager plans out the effort including its schedule.  This project plan is based on “the requirements”, most often plan includes “requirements analysis”.

[Rant 1, sorry about this: My question has always been, “How is it possible to plan a project based on requirements when the first task is to analyze the requirements to determine the real requirements?”  AND, I have seen major efforts (hundreds of millions to billions) which had no real requirements identified…Huh?]

The Program or Project Manager tells the Systems Engineer and Developer/Implementer when each task is complete; because that’s when the time and or money for that task on the schedule is done, regardless of the quality of the work products from the task.  “Good” managers keep a “management reserve” in case things don’t go as planned.  Often, if nothing is going as planned, the manager’s knee jerk reaction is to “replan”; which means creating an inch-stone schedule.  I’ve seen and been involved in large efforts where the next level of detail would be to schedule “bathroom breaks”.  This method for resolution of “analysis paralysis” and “design the best” will almost inevitably cause cost and schedule overruns, unhappy customers, and defective products because the effort’s control function to control costs and schedules.

The Program Management Control Pattern
Figure 2 shows the Program Management Control Pattern.  The size of the elipse shows the percieved importance of each of the three roles.


Figure 2–The Program Management Control Pattern

First, the entire “Three Legged Stool” Pattern is turned upside down is the Program Management Control Pattern.  Rather than the Program Manager enabling and supporting the development process by understanding and supporting the development or transformation process, the Program Manager “controls” the process.  In Lao Tzu leadership taxonomy, this process pattern makes the Program Manager one of the latter increasingly ineffective types.  It also reverses importance of who produces the value in the effort.

To be able to “Control” the effort, the Program Manager requires many intermediate artifacts, schedules, budgets, and status reports, which use up the resources of the efforts and  are non-valued work products, the customer might look at these artifacts once during a PMR, PDR, CDR, or other “XDR” (Rant 2: Calling these review Program Management Reviews, instead of some type of Design Review”, Preliminary, Critical, etc., demonstrates the overwhelming perceived importance of the programmatic requirements by Program Managers.)  I submit that all of these intermediate artifacts are non-value added because 3 months after the effort is completed, the customer or anyone else will not look at any of them except if the customer is suing the the development or transformation organization over the poor quality of the product.  All of these management reviews require resources from the Developers/Implementers and the Systems Engineers.

One extreme example of this management review procedure was the procedures used in development of new aircraft for the US Air Force and Navy during the 1980s and 90s–sometimes facts are stranger than fantasy.  The DoD required some type of “Development Review” every 3 months.  Typically, these were week-long reviews with a large customer team descending on the aircraft’s Prime Contractor.  Program Management (perhaps, rightly) considered these of ultimate importance to keeping the contract and therefore wanted everyone ready.  Consequently, all hands on the effort stopped work 2 weeks prior to work on status reports and presentation rehearsals.  Then, after the “review” all hands would spend most of an additional week reviewing the customer’s feedback and trying to replan the effort to resolve issues and reduce risk.  If you add this up, the team was spending 1 month in every 3 on status reporting.  And I have been part of information technology efforts, in this day of instant access to everything on a project where essentially the same thing is happening.  Think about it, these aircraft programs spent one third of their budget, and lengthened the programs by 1/3 just for status for what?  Intermediate artifacts of no persistent value–Who looked at the presentations of the first Preliminary Design Review after the aircraft was put into operations?  [Rant 3: Did the American citizen get value for the investment or was this just another Program Management Entitlement Program funded by the DoD?]

Second, as shown in Figure 2, the Systems Engineering role is substantially reduced  in the perception of the Program Manager.  An example of this was brought home to me on a multi-billion program, when I asked the chief engineer where the requirements were stored, he quoted the Program’s Director as saying, “We don’t need no damn requirements, we’re too busy doing the work.”  This Director underlined this thinking; he kept hiring more program management, schedule planners, earned value analysts, and so on, while continuous reducing then eliminating the entire Systems Engineering team and leaving only a few System Architects.  He justified this by the need to increased control and cost reduction to meet his budget [Rant 4: and therefore to get his “management bonus”–no one ever heard of the Design or a System Engineering Bonus].  Actually, I’ve seen this strategy put into play on large (more than $20M) three programs with which I was associated and I’ve heard about it on several more within the organization I was work for and in other organizations, over the past 10 years.  

Another program that I worked on as the Lead Systems Engineer that had the same perception of the Systems Engineer (including the System Architect’s role within the Systems Engineering discipline/role).  It is an extreme example of all that can go wrong because of lack of Systems Engineering.  This effort was development of a portal capability for the organization.  It started with a that had 10 management personnel and myself.  They articulated a series of ill-thought-out capability statements, continued by defining a series products that had to be used (with no not identification of Customer System or IT Functional requirements), with a 6 weeks schedule, and ended with a  budget that was 50 percent of what even the most optimistic budgeteers could “guessitmate”.  They (the three or four levels of management represented at the meeting) charged me with the equivalent of “Making bricks without straw or mud in the dark”, that is, creating the portal.  Otherwise, my chances of getting on the Reduction In Force (RIF) list would be drastically increased.

Given that charge, I immediately contacted the software supplier and the development team members from two successful efforts within the organization to determine if there was any hope of the effort within the programmatic constraints to accomplish the task.  All three agreed, it could not be done in less than 6 months.  Faced with this overwhelming and documented evidence, they asked me what can be done.  The result was based on their “capability” statements, and “Requirements (?)” documents from the other two projects, I was able to cobble together a System Architecture Document (SAD) that these managers could point to as visible progress.  Additionally, I used a home grown risk tool to document risks as I bumped into them.  Additionally, I instituted a risk watch list report on a weekly basis, which all the managers ignored.

At this point one fiscal year ended and with the new year, I was able to have the whole, nationwide, team get together, in part, to get everyones requirements and design constraints.  Additionally, I presented an implementation plan for the capabilities I understood they needed.  This plan included segmenting the functions for an IOC build in May, followed by several additional several additional builds.  Since this management team was used to the waterfall development process, the rejected this with no consideration; they wanted it all by May 15th.  In turn, I gave them a plan for producing, more or less, an acceptable number of functions, and an associated risk report with a large number of high probability/catastrophic impact risks.  They accepted the plan.  The plan failed; here is an example of why.

One of the risks was getting the hardware for the staging and production systems in by March 15th.  I submitted the Bill of Materials (BOM) to the PM the first week in February.  The suppliers of the hardware that I recommended indicated that the hardware would be shipped within 7 days of the time the order was received.  When I handed the BOM to the PM, I also indicated the risk if we didn’t get the systems by March 15th.  On March 1st, I told him that we would have a day for day slippage in the schedule for every day we didn’t receive the hardware.  The long and the short of it was that I was called on the carpet for a wire brushing on July 28th when we had the program held up because of lack of hardware.  Since I could show the high-level manager that, in fact, I had reported the risk (then issue) week after week in the risk report she received, her ire finally turned on the PM, who felt he had the responsibility.

The net result of these and several other risks induced either by lack of requirements or lack of paying attention to risks resulted in a system that was ready for staging the following December.  Management took it upon themselves to roll the portal into production without the verification and validation testing.  The final result was a total failure of the effort due to management issues coming from near the top of the management pyramid.  Again, this was due to a complete lack of understanding of the role of Systems Engineering and Architecture.  In fact, this is a minor sample of the errors and issues–maybe I will write a post on this entire effort as an example of what not to do.

In fact the DoD has acknowledged the pattern shown in Figure 2 and countered it by creating System Engineering Technical Advisory (SETA) contracts.

The Utility of Program Management

[Rant 5: Here’s where I become a Heritic to many, for my out of the warehouse thinking.]  In the extreme, or so it may seem it is possible that projects don’t need a project manager.  I don’t consider that a rant because it is a fact.  Here are two questions that makes the point.  “Can an excellent PM with a team of poorly skilled Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) create a top notch product?” and  “Can a poor PM with a team of excellent SMEs create a top notch product?”  The answer to the first is “Only with an exceptional amount of luck”, while the answer to the second is “Yes! Unless the PM creates too much inter-team friction.”  In other words, except for reducing inter-team friction, which uses resources unproductively, and for guiding and facilitating the use of resources, the PM produces no value, in fact, the PM creates no value, just reduces friction, which preserves value and potential value.

None of the latter three types of leaders, as described by Lao Tzu, can perform perform this service to the team, the ones I call in my book, the Charismatic, the Dictator, or the Incompetent. In other words, the PM can’t say and act as if “The floggings will continue until morale improves”.

Instead, the PM must be a leader of the first type as described by Lao Tzu and as I called in my book as “the coach or conductor”.  And any team member can be that leader.  As a Lead Developer and as a Systems Engineer, I’ve run medium sized projects without a program manager and been highly successful–success in this case being measured by bringing the effort in under cost, ahead of schedule, while meeting or exceeding the customers requirements  Yet, on those none of the programs, for which I was the lead systems engineer and which had a program manager and who’s mission was to bring in the effort on time and within budget, was successful.  On the other hand, I’ve been on two programs where the PM listened with his/her ears rather than his/her month and both paid attention to the System Requirements; those efforts were highly successful.

The net of this is that a coaching/conducting PM can make a good team better, but cannot make a bad team good, while a PM in creating better projects plans, producing better and more frequent status reports, and creating and managing to more detailed schedules will always burn budget and push the schedule to the right.

A Short Cycle Process: The Way It Could and Should Work
As noted near the start of this post, there are two ways to resolve the “requirements analysis paralysis” and the “design the best” issues, either by Program Management Control, or through the use of a process that is designed to move the effort around these two landmines.
This second solution uses a development or transformation process that assumes that “Not all requirements are known upfront“.  This single change of assumption makes all the difference.  The development and transformation process must, by necessity, take this assumption into account (see my post The Generalize Agile Development and Implementation Process for Software and Hardware for an outline of such a process).  This takes the pressure off the customer and Systems Engineer to determine all of the requirements upfront and the Developer/Implementer to “design the best” product initially.  That is, since not all of the requirements are assumed to be known upfront, the Systems Engineer can document and have the customer sign off on an initial set of known requirements early in the process (within the first couple of weeks), with the expectation that more requirements will be identified by the customer during the process.  The Developer/Implementer can start to design and implement the new product/system/service based on these requirements with the understanding that as the customer and Systems Engineer identify and prioritize more the of the customer’s real system requirements.  Therefore, they don’t have to worry about designing the “best” the first time; simply because they realize that without all the requirements, they can’t.
 
Changing this single assumption has additional consequences for Program Management.  First, there is really no way to plan and schedule the effort; the assumption that not all the requirements are known upfront means that if a PM attempts to “plan and schedule” the effort is an “exercise in futility.”  What I mean by that is if the requirements change at the end/start of the new cycle, then the value of a schedule of more than the length of one cycle is zero because at the end of the cycle the plan and schedule, by definition of the process, change.  With the RAD process I created, this was the most culturally difficult issue I faced with getting PM and management to understand and accept.  In fact, a year after I moved to a new position, the process team imposed a schedule on the process.
Second, the assumptions forces the programmatic effort into a Level Of Effort (LOE) type of budgeting and scheduling procedure.  Since there is no way to know what requirements are going to be the customer’s highest priority in succeeding cycles, the Program Manager, together with the team must assess the LOE to meet each of the requirements from the highest priority down.  They would do this by assessing the complexity of the requirement and the level of risk with creating the solution that meets the requirement.  As soon as the team runs out of resources forecast for that cycle, they have reached the cutoff point for that cycle.  They would present the set to the customer for the customer’s concurrence.  Once they have customer sign off, they would start the cycle.  Sometimes a single Use Case-based requirement with its design constraints will require more resources than are available to the team during one cycle.  In that case, the team, not the PM, must refactor the requirement. 
For example, suppose there is a mathematically complex transaction, within a knowledge-based management system, which requires an additional level of access control, new hardware, new COTS software, new networking capablities, new inputs and input feeds, new graphics and displays, and transformed reporting.  This is definitely sufficiently complex that no matter how many high quality designers, developers, and implementers you up on the effort, it cannot be completed within one to perhaps even three months (This is  the “9 women can’t make a baby in a month” principle).  Then the team must refactor (divide up) the requirement into chunks that are doable by the team within the cycle’s period, say one to three months.  For example, the first cycle might define and delimit the hardware required and develop the new level of access control; and so on for the number of cycles needed to meet the requirement.
Third, with this assumption of “not having all the requirements”, the PM must pay most attention to the requirements, their verification and validation, and to risk reduction.  All of these functions lay within the responsibility of the Systems Engineer; but the PM must pay attention to them to help best allocate the budget and time resources.
Fourth, there is no real need for PMRs, status reports, or Earned Value metrics.  The reason is simple, high customer involvement.  The customer must review the progress of the effort every month at a minimum, generally every week.  This review is given by the developers demonstrating the functions of the product, system, or service on which they are working.  And if the customer is always reviewing the actual development work, why is there a need for status, especially for an LOE effort?
Fifth, rolling a new system or service has significant implications for the customer.for the timing and size of the ROI for the development or transformation effort.  With an IOC product, system, or service, the customer can start to use it and in using the IOC will be able to, at a minimum, identify missing requirements.  In some cases, much more.  For example, in one effort, in which I performed the systems engineering role, during the first cycle the team created the access control system and the data input functions for a transactional website.  During the second cycle, the customer inserted data into the data store for the system.  While doing this, the customer discovered sufficient errors in the data to pay for the effort.  Consequently, they were delighted with the system and were able to fund additional functionality, further improving their productivity.  If the effort had been based on the waterfall, the customer would have had to wait until the entire effort was complete, may not have been as satisfied with the final product (more design defects because of unknown requirements), would not have discovered the errors, and therefore, would not have funded an extension to the effort.  So it turned out for a win for the customer– more functionality and greater productivity–and for the supply–more work.
In using a short cycle process based on assuming “unknown requirements”, there will always be unfulfilled customer system requirements at the end of this type of development or transformation process.  This is OK.  It’s OK for the customer because the development or transformation team spent the available budgetary and time requirements in creating a product, system, or service that meets the customer’s highest priority requirements, even if those requirements were not initially identified; that is, the customer “got the biggest bang for the buck”.  It’s OK for the team because a delighted customer tends to work hard at getting funding for the additional system requirements.  When such a process is used in a highly disciplined manner, the customer invariably comes up with additional funding.  This has been my experience on over 50 projects with which I was associated, and many others that were reported to me as Lead Systems Engineer for a Large IT organization.
Conclusions and Opinions
The following are my conclusions on this topic:
  1. If a development or transformation effort focuses on meeting the customer’s system requirements, the effort has a much better chance of success than if the focus is on meeting the programmatic requirements.
  2. If the single fundamental assumption is changed from “All the requirements are known up front” to “Not all the requirements are known up front” the effort has the opportunity to be successful or much more successful by the only metric that counts, the customer is getting more of what he or she wants, and that increases customer satisfaction.
  3. If the development or transformation effort can roll out small increments will increase the customer’s ROI for the product, system, or service.
  4. Having a Program Manager, who’s only independent responsibility is managing resources be accountable for an effort is like having the CEO of an organization report to the CFO; you get cost efficient, but not effective products, systems, or services.  [Final Rant: I know good PMs have value, but if a team works, that is because the PM is a leader of the first type: a coach and conductor.] Having a Program Manager that understands the “three legged stool” pattern for development or transformation, and who executes to it will greatly enhance the chance for success of the effort.

8 years, 2 months ago

How Strategic Planning relates to Enterprise Architecture?

TOGAF often refers to Strategic Planning without specifying the details of what it consists of. This document explains why there is a perfect fit between the two.

Strategic Planning means different things to different people. The one constant is its reference to Business Planning which usually occurs annually in most companies. One of the activities of this exercise is the consideration of the portfolio of projects for the following financial year, also referred to as Project Portfolio Management (PPM). This activity may also be triggered when a company modifies its strategy or the priority of its current developments.

Drivers for Strategic Planning may be

· New products or services

· A need for greater Business flexibility and agility

· Merger & Acquisition

· Company’s reorganization

· Consolidation of manufacturing plants, lines of business, partners, information systems

· Cost reduction

· Risk mitigation

· Business Process Management initiatives

· Business Process Outsourcing

· Facilities outsourcing or in sourcing

· Off shoring

Strategic Planning as a process may include activities such as:

1. The definition of the mission and objectives of the enterprise

Most companies have a mission statement depicting the business vision, the purpose and value of the company and the visionary goals to address future opportunities. With that business vision, the board of the company defines the strategic (e.g. reputation, market share) and financial objectives (e.g. earnings growth, sales targets).

2. Environmental analysis

The environmental analysis may include the following activities:

· Internal analysis of the enterprise

· Analysis of the enterprise’s industry

· A PEST Analysis (Political, Economic, Social, and Technological factors). It is very important that an organization considers its environment before beginning the marketing process. In fact, environmental analysis should be continuous and feed all aspects of planning, identify the strengths and weaknesses, the opportunities and threats (SWOT).

3. Strategy definition

Based on the previous activities, the enterprise matches strengths to opportunities and addressing its weaknesses and external threats and elaborate a strategic plan. This plan may then be refined at different levels in the enterprise. Below is a diagram explaining the various levels of plans.

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To build that strategy, an Enterprise Strategy Model may be used to represent the Enterprise situation accurately and realistically for both past and future views. This can be based on Business Motivation Modeling (BMM) which allows developing, communicating and managing a Strategic Plan. Another possibility is the use of Business Model Canvas which allows the company to develop and sketch out new or existing business models. (Refer to the work from Alexander Osterwalder http://alexosterwalder.com/).

The model’s analyses should consider important strategic variables such as customers demand expectations, pricing and elasticity, competitor behavior, emissions regulations, future input, and labor costs.

These variables are then mapped to the main important business processes (capacity, business capabilities, constraints), and economic performance to determine the best decision for each scenario. The strategic model can be based on business processes such as customer, operation or background processes. Scenarios can then are segmented and analyzed by customer, product portfolio, network redesign, long term recruiting and capacity, mergers and acquisitions to describe Segment Business Plans.

4. Strategy Implementation

The selected strategy is implemented by means of programs, projects, budgets, processes and procedures. The way in which the strategy is implemented can have a significant impact on whether it will be successful, and this is where Enterprise Architecture may have a significant role to play. Often, the people formulating the strategy are different from those implementing it. The way the strategy is communicated is a key element of the success and should be clearly explained to the different layers of management including the Enterprise Architecture team.

To support that strategy, different levels or architecture can be considered such as strategic, segment or capability architectures.

image

Figure 20-1: Summary Classification Model for Architecture Landscapes

This diagram below illustrates different examples of new business capabilities linked to a Strategic Architecture.

image

It also illustrates how Strategic Architecture supports the enterprise’s vision and the strategic plan communicated to an Enterprise Architecture team.

Going to the next level allows better detail the various deliverables and the associated new business capabilities. The segment architecture maps perfectly to the Segment Business Plan.

image

5. Evaluation and monitoring

The implementation of the strategy must be monitored and adjustments made as required.

Evaluation and monitoring consists of the following steps:

1. Definition of KPIs, measurement and metrics

2. Definition of target values for these KPIs

3. Perform measurements

4. Compare measured results to the pre-defined standard

5. Make necessary changes

Strategic Planning and Enterprise Architecture should ensure that information systems do not operate in a vacuum. At its core, TOGAF 9 uses/supports a strong set of guidelines that were promoted in the previous version, and have surrounded them with guidance on how to adopt and apply TOGAF to the enterprise for Strategic Planning initiatives. The ADM diagram below clearly indicates the integration between the two processes.

The company’s mission and vision must be communicated to the Enterprise Architecture team which then maps Business Capabilities to the different Business Plans levels.

image

Many Enterprise Architecture projects are focused at low levels but should be aligned with Strategic Corporate Planning. Enterprise Architecture is a critical discipline, one Strategic Planning mechanism to structure an enterprise. TOGAF 9 is without doubt an effective framework for working with stakeholders through Strategic Planning and architecture work, especially for organizations who are actively transforming themselves.

8 years, 2 months ago

The Battle of Our Times: Capabilities vs. Process

Photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs I’m a little ashamed to admit I’ve spent far too much of my career debating colleagues on the merits of capability versus process. In the worst example, I engaged in an intense debate … Continue reading

8 years, 3 months ago

Transformation Benefits Measurement, the Political and Technical Hard Part of Mission Alignment and Enterprise Architecture

Pre-Ramble
This post will sound argumentative (and a bit of Ranting–in fact, I will denote the rants in color.  Some will agree, some will laugh, and Management and Finance Engineering may become defensive), and probably shows my experiences with management and finance engineering (Business Management Incorporated, that owns all businesses) in attempting benefits measurement.  However, I’m trying to point out the PC landmines (especially in the Rants) that I stepped on so that other Systems Engineers, System Architects, and Enterprise Architects don’t step on these particular landmines–there are still plenty of others, so find your own, then let me know.

A good many of the issues result from a poor understanding by economists and Finance Engineers of the underlying organizational economic model embodied in Adam Smith’s work, which is the foundation of Capitalism.  The result of this poor understanding is an incomplete model, as I describe in Organizational Economics: The Formation of Wealth.

Transformation Benefits Measurement Issues
As Adam Smith discussed in Chapter 1, Book 1, of his Magna Opus, commonly called The Wealth of Nations, a transformation of process and the insertion of tools transforms the productivity processes.  Adam Smith called the process transformation “The division of labour“, or more commonly today, the assembly line.  At the time, 1776, where all industry of “cottage industry” this transformation Enterprise Architecture was revolutionary.  He did this using an example of straight pin production.  Further, he discussed that concept that tooling makes this process even more effective, since tools are process multipliers. In the military, their tools, weapons, are “force multipliers”, which for the military is a major part of their process. Therefore, both transformation of processes and transforming tooling should increase the productivity of an organization.  Productivity is increasing the effectiveness of the processes of an organization to achieve its Vision or meet the requirements of it various Missions supporting the vision.
The current global business cultural, especial finance from Wall St. to the individual CFOs and other “finance engineers”, militates against reasonable benefits measurement of the transformation of processes and insertion and maintenance of tools.  The problem is that finance engineers do not believe in either increased process effectiveness or cost avoidance (to increase the cost efficiency of a process).
Issue #1 the GFI Process
Part of the problem is the way most organizations decide on IT investments in processes and tooling.  The traditional method is the GFI (Go For It) methodology that involves two functions, a “beauty contest” and “backroom political dickering”.  That is, every function within an organization has its own pet projects to make its function better (and thereby its management’s bonuses larger).  The GFI decision support process is usually served up with strong dashes of NIH (Not Invented Here) and LSI (Last Salesman In) syndromes.
This is like every station on an assembly line dickering for funding to better perform its function.  The more PC functions would have an air conditioned room to watch the automated tooling perform the task, while those less PC would have their personnel chained to the workstation, while they used hand tools to perform their function; and not any hand tools, but the ones management thought they needed–useful or not.  Contrast this with the way the Manufacturing Engineering units of most manufacturing companies work.  And please don’t think I’m using hyperbole because I can cite chapter and verse where I’ve seen it, and in after hours discussions with cohorts from other organizations, they’ve told me the same story.
As I’ve discussed in A Model of an Organization’s Control Function using IDEF0 Model, The OODA Loop, and Enterprise Architecture, the Enterprise Architect and System Architect can serve in the “Manufacturing Engineer” role for many types of investment decisions.  However, this is still culturally unpalatable in many organizations since it gives less wiggle room to finance engineers and managers.
Issue #2 Poorly Formalized Increased Process Effectiveness Measuring Procedures
One key reason (or at least rationale) why management and especially finance engineers find wiggle room is that organizations (management and finance engineering) is unable (unwilling) to fund the procedures and tooling to accurately determine pre- and post-transformation process effectiveness because performing the procedures and maintaining the tools uses resources, while providing no ROI–this quarter. [Better to use the money for Management Incentives, rather than measuring the decisions management makes].
To demonstrate how poorly the finance engineering religion understands the concept of Increased Process Effectiveness, I will use the example of Cost Avoidance, which is not necessarily even Process Effectiveness, but is usually Cost Efficiency.  Typically, Cost Avoidance is investing in training, process design, or tooling now to reduce the cost of operating or maintaining the processes and tooling later. 
[Rant 1: a good basic academic definition and explanation cost avoidance is found at http://www.esourcingwiki.com/index.php/Cost_Reduction_and_Avoidance.  It includes this definition:

“Cost avoidance is a cost reduction that results from a spend that is lower then the spend that would have otherwise been required if the cost avoidance exercise had not been undertaken.” ]

As discussed in the article just cited, in the religion of Finance Engineering, cost avoidance is considered as “soft” or “intangible”.  The reason finance engineer cite for not believing cost avoidance number is that the “savings classified as avoidance (are suspect) due to a lack of historical comparison.” 
[Rant 2: Of course Cost Reduction Saving is like that of avoiding a risk (an unknown) by changing the design is not valid, see my post The Risk Management Process because the risk never turned into an issue (a problem).] 
This is as opposed to cost reduction, where the Finance Engineer can measure the results in ROI.  This makes cost reduction efforts much more palatable to Finance Engineers, managers, and Wall St. Traders.  Consequently, increased cost efficiency is much more highly valued by this group than Increased Process Effectiveness.  Yet, as discussed above, the reason for tools (and process transformations) is to Increase Process Effectiveness.   So, Finance Engineering puts the “emphassus on the wrong salobul“.
They are aided an abetted by (transactional and other non-leader) management.  A discussed recently on CNBC Squawk Box, the recent the CEOs of major corporations cite for their obscenely high salaries is that they make decisions that avoid risk. 
[Rant 3: Of course this is ignoring the fact that going into and operating a business is risky, by definition; and any company that avoids risk is on the “going out of business curve”.  So most executives in US Companies today are paid 7 figure salaries to put their companies on “the going out of business curve”–interesting]
However, Cost Avoidance is one of two ways to grow a business.  The first is to invent a new product or innovate on an existing product (e.g., the IPAD) such that the company generates new business.  The second, is to Increase Process Effectiveness. 
Management, especially mid- and upper-level management, does not want to acknowledge the role of process transformation or the addition or upgrade of tooling as increasing the effectiveness of a process, procedure, method, or function.  The reason is simple, it undermines the ability for them to claim it as their own ability to manage their assets (read employees) better and therefore “earn” a bonus or promotion.  Consequently, this leaves those Enterprise and System Architects always attempting to “prove their worth” without using the metric that irrefutably prove the point.
These are the key cultural issue (problems) in selling real Enterprise Architecture and System Architecture.  And frankly, the only organizations that will accept this cultural type of change are entrepreneurial, and those large organization in a panic or desperation.  These are the only ones that are willing to change their culture.
Benefits Measurement within the OODA Loop
Being an Enterprise and an Organizational Process Architect, as well as a Systems Engineer and System Architect, I know well that measuring the benefits of a transformation (i.e., cost avoidance) is technically difficult at best; and is especially so, if the only metrics “management” considers are financial. 
Measuring Increased Process Effectiveness
In an internal paper I did in 2008, Measuring the Process Effectiveness of Deliverable of a Program [Rant 4: ignored with dignity by at least two organizations when I proposed R&D to create a benefits measurement procedure], I cited a paper: John Ward, Peter Murray and Elizabeth Daniel, Benefits Management Best Practice Guidelines (2004, Document Number: ISRC-BM-200401: Information Systems Research Centre Cranfield School of Management), that posits four types of metric that can be used to measure benefits (a very good paper by the way).
  1. Financial–Obviously
  2. Quantifiable–Metrics that organization is currently using to measure its process(es) performance and dependability that will predictably change with the development or transformation; the metrics will demonstrate the benefits (or lack thereof).  This type of metric will provide hard, but not financial, evidence that the transformation has benefits.  Typically, the organization knows both the minimum and maximum for the metric (e.g., 0% to 100%).
  3. Measurable–Metrics that organization is not currently using to measure its performance, but that should measurably demonstrate the benefits of the development or transformation.  Typically, these metrics have a minimum, like 0, but no obvious maximum.  For example, I’m currently tracking the number of pages accessed per day.  I know that if no one reads a page the metric will be zero.  However, I have no idea of the potential readership for anyone post because most of the ideas presented here are concepts that will be of utility in the future. [Rant 5: I had one VP who was letting me know he was going to lay me off from an organization that claimed it was an advance technology integrator that “he was beginning to understand was I had been talking about two years before”–that’s from a VP of an organization claiming to be advanced in their thinking about technology integration–Huh….]  Still, I have a good idea of the readership of each post from the data,  what the readership is interested in and what falls flat on its face.  Measurable metrics will show or demonstrate the benefits, but cannot be used to forecast those benefits.  Another example is of a RAD process I created in 2000.  This process was the first RAD process that I know of, that the SEI considered as Conformant; that is, found in conformance by an SEI Auditor.  At the time, I had no way to measure its success except by project adoption rate (0 being no projects used it).  By 2004, within the organization I worked for, that did several hundred small, medium, and large efforts per year, over half of them were using the process.  I wanted to move from measurable to quantitative, using metrics like defects per roll out, customer satisfaction, additional customer funding, effort spent per requirement (use case), and so on, but “the management considered collecting this data, analyzing and storing it to be an expense, not an investment and since the organization was only CMMI level 3 and not level 4, this proved infeasible.   [Rant 6: It seems to me that weather forecasters and Wall St. Market Analysts are the only ones that can be paid to use measurable metrics to forecast, whether they are right wrong, or indifferent–and the Wall St. analysts are paid a great deal even when they are wrong.]
  4. Observable–Observable is the least quantitative, which is to say the most qualitative, of the metric types.  These are metrics with no definite minimum or maximum.  Instead, they are metrics that the participants agree on ahead of time–requirements? (see my post Types of Requirements.)  These metrics are really little more than any positive change that occurs after the transformation.  At worst they are anecdotal evidence.  Unfortunately, because Financial Engineers and Managers (for reasons discussed above) are not willing to invest in procedures and tooling for better metrics like those above, unless they are forced into it by customers, (e.g., requiring CMMI Level 5), Enterprise Architects, System Architects, and Systems Engineer must rely on anecdotal evidence, the weakest kind, to validate the benefits of a transformation.
Metric Context Dimensions
Having metrics to measure the benefits is good, if and only if, the metrics are in context.  In my internal paper, Measuring the Process Effectiveness of Deliverable of a Program, which I cited above, I found a total of four contextual dimensions, and since I have discovered a fifth.  I give two, to illustrate what I mean.
In several previous posts I’ve used the IDEF0 pattern as a model of the organization (see Figure 1 in A Model of an Organization’s Control Function using IDEF0 Model, The OODA Loop, and Enterprise Architecture in particular).  One context for the metrics is whether the particular metric is measuring improvement in the process, the mechanisms (tooling), or in the control functions; a transformation may affect all three.  If it affects two of the pattern’s abstract components or all three, the transformation may affect each either by increasing or decreasing the benefit.  Then the Enterprise Architect must determine the “net benefit.”
The key to this “net benefit” is to determine how well the metric(s) of each component measures the organization’s movement or change in velocity of movement toward achieving its Vision and/or Mission.  This is a second context.  As I said, there are at least three more.
Measuring Increased Cost Efficiency
While measuring the Benefits that accrue from a transformation is difficult (just plain hard), measuring the increased cost efficiency is simple and easy–relatively–because it is based on cost reduction, not cost avoidance.  The operative word is “relatively”, since management and others will claim that their skill and knowledge reduced the cost, not the effort of the transformation team or the Enterprise Architecture team that analyzed, discovered, and recommended the transformation.  [Rant 7: More times than I can count, I have had and seen efforts where management did everything possible to kill off a transformation effort, then when it was obvious to all that the effort was producing results “pile on” to attempt to garner as much credit for the effort as possible.  One very minor example for my experience was that in 2000, my boss at the time told me that I should not be “wasting so much time on creating a CMMI Level 3 RAD process, but instead should be doing real work.”  I call this behavior the “Al Gore” or “Project Credit Piling On” Syndrome (In his election bid Al Gore attempted to take all the credit for the Internet and having participated in its development for years prior, I and all of my cohorts resented the attempt).  Sir Arthur Clarke captured this syndrome in his Law of Revolutionary Development.

“Every revolutionary idea evokes three stages of reaction. They can be summed up as:
–It is Impossible—don’t Waste My Time!
–It is Possible, but not Worth Doing!
–I Said it was a Good Idea All Along!”]

Consequently, “proving” that the engineering and implementation of the transformation actually reduced the cost, and not the “manager’s superior management abilities” is difficult at best–if it weren’t the manager’s ability, then why pay him or her the “management bonus” [Rant 8: which is were the Management Protective Association kicks in to protect their own].

The Benefits Measurement Process

The two hardest activities of Mission Alignment and Implementation Process are Observe and Orient, as defined within the OODA Loop (see A Model of an Organization’s Control Function using IDEF0 Model, The OODA Loop, and Enterprise Architecture for the definitions of these tasks or functions of the OODA Loop).  To really observe processes the results and affects of a process transformation requires an organizational process as described, in part, by the CMMI Level 4 Key Practices or some of the requirements of the ISO 9001 standards.

As usual, I will submit to the reader that the keys (culturally and in a business sense) to getting the the organization to measure the success (benefits) of its investment decisions and its policy and management decisions is twofold.  The first high-level activity is a quick, (and therefore, necessarily incomplete) inventory of its Mission(s), Strategies, Processes and tooling assets.  As I describe in Initially implementing an Asset and Enterprise Architecture Process and an AEAR, this might consist of documenting and inserting the data of the final configuration of each new transformation effort as it is rolled out into an AEAR during an initial 3 month period; and additionally inserting current Policies and Standards (with their associate Business Rules) into the AEAR.  Second, analyze the requirements of each effort (the metrics associated with the requirements, really) to determine the effort’s success metrics.  Using the Benefits Context Matrix determine where these metrics are incomplete (in some cases), over defined (in others), obtuse and opaque, or conflicting among themselves.  The Enterprise Architect would present the results of these analyses to management, together with recommendations for better metrics and more Process Effective transformation efforts (projects an programs).

The second high-level activity is to implement procedures and tooling to more effectively to efficiently observe and orient the benefits through the metrics (as well as the rest of the Mission Alignment/Mission Implementation Cycles).  Both of these activities should have demonstrable results (an Initial Operating Capability, IOC) by the end of the first 3 month Mission Alignment cycle.  The IOC need not be much, but it must be implemented, not some notional or conceptual design.  This forces the organization to invest resources in measurements of benefits and perhaps, in which component the benefits exist, control, process, or mechanisms.

Initially, expect that the results from the Benefits Metrics to be lousy for at least three reasons.  First, the AEAR is skeletal at best.  Second, the organization and all the participants, including the Enterprise Architect have a learning curve with respect to the process.  Third, the initially set of benefits metrics will not really measure the benefits, or at least not effectively measure the benefits. 

For example,I have been told, and believe to be true, that several years ago, the management of a Fortune 500 company chose IBM’s MQSeries as middleware, to interlink many of its “standalone” systems in its fragmented architecture.  This was a good to excellent decision in the age before SOA, since the average maintenance cost for a business critical custom link was about $100 per link per month and the company had several hundred business critical links.  The IBM solution standardized the procedure for inter-linkage in a central communications hub using an IBM standard protocol.  Using the MQSeries communications solution required standardized messaging connectors.  Each new installation of a connector was a cost to the organization.  But, since connectors could be reused, IBM could right claim that the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for the inter-linkage would be significantly reduced. 

However, since the “benefit” of migrating to the IBM solution was “Cost Reduction“, not Increased Process Effectiveness [RANT 9: Cost Avoidance in Finance Engineering parlance], Management and Finance Engineering (Yes, both had to agree), directed that the company would migrate its systems.  That was good, until they identified the “Benefit Metric” on which the management would get their bonuses.  That benefit metric was “The number of new connector installed“.  While it sounds reasonable, the result was hundreds of new connectors were installed, but few connectors were reused because the management was not rewarded for reuse, just new connectors.  Finance Engineering took a look at the IBM Invoice and had apoplexy!  It cost more in a situation where they had a guarantee from the supplier that it would cost less [RANT 10: And an IBM guarantee reduced risk to zero].  The result was that the benefit (increased cost efficiency) metric was changed to “The number of interfaces reusing existing connectors, or where not possible new connectors”.  Since clear identification and delineation of metrics is difficult even for Increased Cost Efficiency (Cost Reduction), it will be more so for Increased Process Effectiveness (Cost Avoidance).

Having effectively rained on every one’s parade, I still maintain that with the support of the organization’ s leadership, the Enterprise Architect, can create a Transformation Benefits Measurement procedure with good benefit (Increased Process Effectiveness) metrics in 3 to 4 cycles of the Mission Alignment Process.  And customer’s requiring the suppliers to follow CMMI Level 5 Key Practices, SOA as an architectural pattern or functional design, together with Business Process Modeling, and Business Activity Monitoring and Management (BAMM) tooling will all help drive the effort.

For example, BAMM used in conjunction with SOA-based Services will enable the Enterprise Architect to determine such prosaic metrics as Process Throughput (in addition to determining bottlenecks) before and after a ttransformation. [RANT 11: Management and Finance Engineering are nearly psychologically incapable of allowing a team to measure a Process, System, or Service after its been put into production, let alone measuring these before the transformation.  This is the reason I recommend that the Enterprise Architecture processes, Like Mission Alignment be short cycles instead of straight through one off processes like the waterfall process–each cycle allow the Enterprise Architect to measure the results and correct defects in the transformation and in the metrics.  It’s also the reason I recommend that the Enterprise Architect be on the CEO staff, rather that a hired consulting firm.] Other BAMM-derived metrics might be the cost and time used per unit produced across the process, the increase in quality (decreased defects), up-time of functions of the process, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction (employee morale increases with successful processes), and so on.  These all help the Enterprise Architect Observe and Orient the changes in the process due to the transformation, as part of the OODA Loop-based Mission Alignment/Mission Implementation process.

8 years, 3 months ago

Types of Requirements

Definition of a RequirementA Requirement is a measurable expression of what a customer wants and for which the customer is willing to pay.  Therefore, a requirement has three attributes:It has a description of what the customer wants or …