Posts Tagged ‘Enterprise Architecture_IT’

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What does it mean for a company to journey to the Cloud, culture and processes

October 6, 2012

Business environments are faced with rapid change to better adapt to evolving market conditions and operational costs. These challenges most often requires the company to change the way business is done. BPM has become a critical function in many companies and is expected to grow even further with the journey to the Cloud.

Enabling IT operations and workflow over the cloud is a concept that many organizations are embracing and this service is growing in popularity among other companies that have yet to transition IT operations over to the Cloud. Shifting IT operations to the Cloud will fundamentally change the way that technology is exploited and the value that it can bring. Using cloud solutions to manage a business’s operations is a shift in technology that offers great value, with an increase in complexity and challenge to traditional IT operations. According to Gartner, by 2016 20% of all the “shadow business processes” will be supported by BPM cloud platforms, such as spreadsheets, routing of emails, collaboration apps, etc. As applications mature, performance requirements, regulatory requirements, or specific business drivers change the organization will explore other Cloud solutions that will continue to present process and cultural challenges.

The journey to the Cloud will need a re-inventing of the traditional IT model of plan, build and manage. Traditionally 100% demand for IT services has gone to the IT department. Cloud solutions are changing that model. With traditional  IT services transitioning to the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) the waterfall of activities  associated with the traditional IT model for delivery and management of services such as security, governance, capacity planning and budgets will pose a challenge for the CIO and CTO. Cloud providers are usurping the CIO and going directly to the business to sell their line of business solutions, such a shift in strategy causes a disruption in IT service delivery. Along with providing the business units with a consumption model, something the traditional IT department does not do, the business unit is able to keep an eye on their budget and the direct relationship offers project visibility. For the business unit these are added value for doing business with the CSP. Such shifts will force the hand of the enterprise to look at change of culture, operational processes, infrastructure and architecture as part of a new model for IT operations.

In a July SAP Cloud Computing post Sina Moatamed, Ding, Dong, The Suite is Dead! (as we know it)  proposed the following architectural components for a new IT model. Such changes will transform organizational culture and the way we traditionally think of the IT department. Creating a Process-as-a-Service model will revolutionize the IT department from traditional plan, build, manage to Service Provider. In this role the IT department is the “gatekeeper” of company assets, representing the business before CSP. Business units no longer have the need to go directly to the CSP.

Integration-as-a-Service would give process integration between SaaS solutions and with existing internal application services.  It would also provide for Master Data Management.  If the enterprise is journeying to a Public cloud offering which is without borders, the security issues so many companies wrestle with, Sina suggest the only way to properly secure organizational assets is to tightly manage the identities that have access.  So IT will need to use an Identity-as-a-Service provider to manage identities across all SaaS services. A centralized  Platform-as-a-Service environment. The normalization of data will allow for developing point solutions and workflows.  He states this is significant change to the traditional model.  Because now the PaaS is the center of the universe with many SaaS services surrounding the PaaS. The PaaS concept as being “the center of the universe” causes me to think of BPM PaaS.

This model not only transitions IT from overseer to an actual service provider, it offers solutions to some of the challenges and concerns expressed by companies with regard to moving to the Cloud. This is a frontward architecture for other shifts in technology consumption such as mobility and social networking.

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Can technology improve agility?

October 16, 2011

Daily question in ebizQ forum.

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Agility is a conceptual framework that can improve IT architecture and the enterprise architecture.  If applied as designed, agility can facilitate an iterative approach in development and strategic planning, promoting collaboration while encouraging rapid and flexible response to change which is critical in the current business climate.

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How can businesses benefit from or better use Business Process Management (BPM) software?

October 4, 2011

Only through acceptance and sound BPM structure can businesses benefit from or better use Business Process Management software (BPMS). BPM is a management attitude aligning business processes with the goals of the organization. Business Process Management System is just that – a system or application, regardless how robust, it’s a resource that should enable the holistic approach to process management – add value to stratagem. When the discussion is BPM my colleagues respond with BPMS, falling into the old scenario of putting the cart before the horse.

Let’s flip the question, how can BPMS benefit businesses? The very first prerequisite is there has to be organizational acceptance of BPM as a valued discipline focused on change. The organization as a whole, C-Suite, knowledge workers, partners, stakeholders, etc., have to understand that BPM is about visibility, understanding the value stream, collaboration, transformation and governance of processes; integrating silos in the effort to support business decisions. The BPMS as an organizational resource should facilitate the effort. The second prerequisite to achieve the latter is defining structure – rules, controls and matrices for business processes outside of the BPMS, automation of the right processes and effective change and information management. Like any other IT infrastructure resource its interoperability has to be seamless. Organizational goals and system expectations have to be clear, synchronized and manageable before benefit is gained.

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Enterprise Architecture and IT Enterprise Architecture what is the difference?

March 24, 2010

Enterprise Architecture is a description of the processes, people, business functions, systems, and the external environment to include clients, vendors, stakeholders and business information, noting how each unit interconnects to meet the purpose of the enterprise. The EA is designed according to the mission, vision and principles of the enterprise. Enterprise Architecture is not technical; it looks at the whole organization and all the pieces that are required to meet strategic goals.

EA is not technical – there in lies the difference between the two…IT Enterprise Architecture is all technical. IT EA assess the very same components of the EA, but with a slightly different agenda – its goal is to give the enterprise the right technology design and resources that will help the enterprise in meeting its goals effectively and efficiently, to include management of information.  As IT is a functional part of the organization it has to provide the applications, data repositories and information security protocols and structure to manage the business information, provide the resources that allow people to process information quickly, safely and accurately while co-authoring a recursive relationship between business and IT. At the core of the IT EA design are the guiding principles and stratagem of the enterprise. The IT Enterprise Architecture is architecture within architecture.

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Enterprise Architects…who, what & where?

February 10, 2010

Enterprise Architecture and Enterprise Architects (EA) are the hottest IT business words. The Open Group during their Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference attempted to define the role of an Architect. Their goal was to help the EA community clearly define this job description. The panel said by doing this “they hope to cut down on people holding the title without actually being able to do the job, which obviously would help hiring companies, while providing some level of coherence and commonality. ” The current financial climate is unfortunately dictating business strategies centered on budget and immediate results, putting aside real strategies for long term sustainability. Don’t misunderstand me; “coherence and more commonality” as used by the panelist are components to long-term survival. Clearly defining what an EA is and the professional characteristics of the Architect will insure the right match is made and is in line with the strategy of the enterprise plus will go a long way in helping organizations that have hired EA’s to the level of incompetence.

At the time the article was written, the group fell short of the mark for defining the role. The discussion turned into where EAs can be found. I took a little time to think about what an EA really does, did a little research and drew on iqu’s industry experience to offer a role description and characteristics of an Enterprise Architect.

Enterprise Architects work with stakeholders, both leadership and subject matter experts, to build an inclusive view of the organization’s strategy, processes, information, and information technology assets. The role of the EA is to take this knowledge and ensure there is an alignment of the organization and IT by linking the mission, strategy, and processes of an organization to its IT strategy. The Enterprise Architect, using multiple architectural models or views, documents this knowledge to show how the current and future needs of the organization will be met in an efficient, sustainable, agile, and adaptable manner. (Compliment of Wiki)

Below are some skills and competencies I believe EAs need to be successful.

  1. Possess an understanding of the strategy of the enterprise; its goals and objectives with the ability to strategically align business units and IT based on the latter. This is number one.
  2. Understand processes, information technologies and other assets of the enterprise, and the role each has in the recursive relationship between business and IT,
  3. Ability to interface with those who work the value chain and manage processes,
  4. Ability to provide business people with professional guidance and recommendations during planning and cross functional team meetings,
  5. The EA needs the business savvy and soft skills to strategically work with cross functional departments such as Marketing, HR, Customer Care, office of CEO, board members, etc. to build the relationship between IT, business and stakeholders.

The final determination of the skills and competency of the EA rest with the enterprise, either the focus will be on budget restraints with immediate results or healthy long-term sustainability of the organization. The answers will determines how the role of an EA is defined. If the organization’s focus is long-term sustainability the latter skills and competencies should be considered. If the focus of the enterprise is budget and immediate results, then anyone with an IT background will do.

As mentioned above, the group’s discussion turned into suggested places to find EAs. They are as followed, to include iqu’s opinion.

Open Group: Check your program mangers. It turns out, there’s a lot of skill overlap in program managers and EAs, according to Len Fehskens, vice president, Skills and Capabilities at The Open Group. “In the architecture group at Digital … we used to joke that if you had a program without a program manager, the architect filled that role. If you had a program without an architect, the program manager filled that role,” said Fehskens.

iqu: The architect could fill the role of program manager based on the definition and characteristics. It does not go the other way. Just because he is a Program Manager does not mean he has the understanding or knowledge of IT and its recursive relationship with business or possesses any of the EA characteristics. A Program Manager is just that – a manager. Do you really want your managers interfacing with the business units on a daily bases or managing the program and putting in place tactics for program success?

Open Group: You might also find a future EA among your consultants – but make sure it’s a consultant you’ve worked with, not someone you just hire in. It’s an approach many companies have successfully used, according to David Foote, who heads Foote Partners, an IT research firm focusing on IT staffing and benefits. And it makes sense, because in many ways, EAs act like internal consultants, looking not just at the technology, but the entire process the technology will support.

iqu: Ok, I can go for this, the reason is obvious. The professional recommendation would be to look at an IT_BPA/BPM consultant with architecture experience.

Open Group: Look outside of IT. Many EAs come from engineering. Jason Uppal, a chief architect and panel participant also recommended you consider looking internally in other areas, and then develop your enterprise architects. He compared it to a similar, successful program used at one of his previous employers. The company found people who had the skills it was trying to develop in engineers, established an apprenticeship and then trained the workers in the technical skills.

iqu: Keep in mind what the EA is…the architect has to have a sound knowledge of IT, be business savvy with soft skills. With the advance of IT along with state and federal regulations on the management of business assets just in the last 10 years, it would take a bit of financial resources and time to develop a worker to take the task of EA. My professional view is to look within IT, particularly at network engineers and IT project managers (PM).

The network/system engineer has functioned as an EA since system connectivity has been a part of the business infrastructure. They design and manage a lot of the information infrastructure to include connectivity and system interfaces; they cross point with the various system components such as Database and Telecom systems and their administrators. The PM not only has the technical knowledge he also possesses the soft skills for working with stakeholders and has an understanding of the goals and objectives of the organization. To develop either of these professionals could be cost and time effective. If there is pressure and constraints on budget looking outside the domain would be costly and results could be long-term.

A professional opinion, the best strategy would be to hire an IT_BPA/BPM consultant with architecture experience. Consultants are costly, most charge by the hour, the effort balances out the cost when you think about the risk associated with hiring someone who does not poses the experience and knowledge or promoting from the latter IT positions that will need a back-fill and all that is involved in the hiring process. If the consultant works out, hire him. If hiring is not an option use him to develop the job description and include him in the interview process.