8 years, 10 months ago

Strategic clarity questions

An excellent post on anecdote.com.au included 5 questions to help you assess whether your organisation has "strategic clarity".  The question are:

Can the executive team simply and clearly describe the strategy without referring to notes (or powerpoint slides) aided only by simple sketches they make themselves?
Does the executive team all believe in and describe the same strategy?
Do the

8 years, 10 months ago

The Startup Crash and Burn Cycle

Entrepreneur: I have this great idea for a website. I know it’s going to make a ton of money.
Developer: I know [python, .NET, Java, Ruby]. I’ve done this before.
Entrepreneur: I can see that you have, great. Let’s get started.

The entrepreneur, trusting the developer, begins to feed him a couple of ideas. The developer asks questions whenever they get stumped. Weeks and/or months later, behold, a website arises!

But this is not the happy ending – it’s only the beginning. Now the fun part begins.

Because when the entrepreneur gets close to some potential enterprise customers and they ask about such mundane concerns as security, integration and website customization. Uh, what? Worse, they want monitoring and tracking – as does the entrepreneur since he needs reporting on a per/customer basis to understand sales and site usage.

Only the developers have since checked out – either physically or mentally. They weren’t interested in maintaining the site. Their brilliance is only appropriate to building the site. Too bad they never did any maintenance programming, ever. If they could have seen the brilliance of others their effort may have been the better for it.

Now what? It’s unusual for developers to document well in such circumstances, and the entrepreneur doesn’t read [python, .NET, Java, Ruby], nor is he particularly interested in learning how to read them. Of course he could hire someone who does but then he knows how that turned out.

On the plus side, what the entrepreneur has, is a demo capable website. He can sell it.  And, with luck, it’s a stepping stone to something that will stand up to the heavy traffic required to make a “ton of money.”

The problem is that without an analysis of client needs against the strength of the code he doesn’t know. Even if all is well, he knows he has to take a step back to take two forward.

But all is not well – even a cursory analysis shows that the code is not rationalized on the back end – because there is no back end. All the code is in the equivalent asp/jsp server, meaning that, in the end, testing costs will be much higher for changes than is sustainable. All the website text is embedded in the code which equals the need for changes and that there’s no way to easily customize the site to each customer’s content requests. There’s no service or facility to upload large data sets for the corporate customer. There’s no separation between the primitive reporting interface and the operational data store meaning that every time the entrepreneur wants a report it will impact his site’s performance. Oh, and tokens representing sign-on are sent in the clear, and that’s the extent of the security framework. This, in turn, limits the entrepreneur’s top line revenue possibilities, as larger and more established companies require these issues to be addressed prior to considering a purchase or licensing agreements.

At SenseAgility we’ve seen this pattern over and over. It’s not necessarily wrong – it is even encouraged by the Private Equity community who is more interested in a smaller up-front investment than long-term viability. The entrepreneur does have a functional website that he can sell and that might even support a few customers. But by this time, they have usually invested several hundred thousand dollars into what is essentially a throwaway. Was it worth the investment?

You decide.

8 years, 11 months ago

Enterprise Architecture Blog Roll

Enterprise architecture blog rollI’m going to post my personal list of great enterprise architecture blog sites here.

First three cabs off the rank are Nik Malik, Jeff Scott and Tom Graves. Currently these three guys are the thought leaders in the fie…

8 years, 11 months ago

Is Business Architecture the same as Business Context?

Gartner neatly defines the difference between business architecture and business context as:

[E]nterprise business architecture is focused on applying EA practices to the business dimension (people, process, organization and financials) in order to "architect the business."

[B]usiness context is focused on articulating the business strategy, market trends and requirements in order to ensure an

8 years, 11 months ago

What Business Architecture and Pudding Have in Common

(this is a response to the recent article in Architecture and Governance Magazine titled ‘Archimate: Adding Value to TOGAF’ – registration required.)

I was walking down the hall last week when the VP of Finance stopped me and asked me for my latest BPMN and Archimate diagrams for the “X” project that was going to revamp the marketing campaign software. He wanted the diagrams on his desk as soon as possible. If this sounds likely then you and I have probably had different work experiences, not to mention career paths.

I would suggest that the vignette in the previous paragraph is as likely as finding a shovel in Louis XV’s ballroom. So why is it that the good folks at TOGAF and Archimate keep trotting out Archimate viewpoints for EA and Business Architecture?

My answer would be that they’re fascinated by the tools of proof. These tools like Archimate, BPMN, UML are some of my favorite tools. But really, to expect others to have the same enthusiasm is unrealistic.

The business people that I know just don’t care about the actual diagrams although they might be interested in the proof or at least the fact that I have some proof in my pocket somewhere. I’m talking here about the sponsors, the people with the ultimate financial authority, the P&L owners, the ones sponsoring the business architecture (strategy) assignment.

If you’re thinking, “they should be interested” or that “we’ll educate them regarding our super great notation so that we can communicate” then I have to suggest you’ve missed the mark already.

No, the folks I know just want verify that I understand their issues. How I talk to them is critical because they listen to me repeat back to them my own understanding prior to the presentation of strategy options. I do use models behind the scenes to verify my understanding and to provide a backbone to my strategic chat but I talk to the operational people to acquire that understanding. By the way, the operational people are interested in the proof side of the equation but they aren’t the ones making the investment decision.

So the tools of proof are half the story? Well, actually they represent 80% of the work in business architecture. They just don’t show up in the strategy part of the presentation. Actually they don’t show up in the presentation at all, period. But if the tools of proof occupy 80% of the strategy analysis maybe that’s why architecture centric organizations like to call their tools “Business Architecture”. But that is doing what the recruiters do — everything is business architecture to that crowd.

My advice is to make an adjustment where notations are concerned. Keep the details in the background and not the foreground and if you’re selling Business Architecture don’t talk about the tools of proof to your sponsor unless they ask.

To learn more about keeping the proof in the pudding see our Capability Based Business Architecture curriculum here.

8 years, 11 months ago

John Zachman is Dead, Long Live John Zachman

Typically, the world of EA is boring. In this last few weeks, all bets are off as John Zachman goes to court and questions are raised about the near term and long term effects to the commercialization of EA Frameworks and the EA certification marketplace. It’s still early days, but challenges from the “father of EA” require consideration.

The post John Zachman is Dead, Long Live John Zachman appeared first on Philip Allega.

8 years, 11 months ago

Business Architecture is Part of Enterprise Architecture

A common misperception being hyped in EA circles concerns the notion that business architecture is something different from enterprise architecture. This is a blatant attempt to classify EA as something only applicable to IT when, in fact, EA is applicable to the ENTERPRISE that covers numerous viewpoints for stakeholders, including business, information, technology and solution […]

The post Business Architecture is Part of Enterprise Architecture appeared first on Philip Allega.

8 years, 11 months ago

Some applications of enterprise architecture

"EA is now widely accepted s an essential mechanism for ensuring transparency, consistency, compliance and ultimately flexibility/agility in companies and public agencies"

from Robert Winter, & Elmar J Sinz. (2007). Enterprise Architecture. Information Systems and eBusiness Management, 5(4), 357-358.  Retrieved August 29, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global.

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