Virtualising Enterprise Architecture 2: Process

This post was written by Carl Haggerty and Martin Howitt.

In our last post we talked about why we were looking to virtualise the Enterprise Architecture function at our organisation to protect it from potential savage cost-cutting in the near future. In this post we want to dive a bit into the mechanics of how we are going about it to hopefully offer some insight into the way it will actually work in the future. Parts of this approach have been inspired and or triggered by reading books or blogs posts and participating in online conversations with the following people – Chris Potts, Richard Veryard, Tom Graves as well of course conversations between ourselves.

The core of our Architecture function is based around a services model – the value propositions being outlined in the last post – and we are adopting a staged approach:

  • understand each service as a stand-alone business model
  • understand the capabilities in the team to deliver the aggregated services
  • identify partners in each service area that might potentially carry the discipline forward
  • design a process map for each service
  • fit identified partners into the process
  • mitigate against the risk of loss of key capabilities

Let’s look at each of these stages in a bit more detail.

Business Model
We used the Business Model Canvas to map the various aspects of the individual services – their value, customers, processes etc. If nothing else this was very useful as it got the whole team thinking in the same direction about what the services were there to do and how they fitted together. It also made us start thinking about who our partners were in each service.

Team capabilities
For this we had to really look into ourselves to decide if we were really capable of delivering all of the services ourselves and understand what our core strengths were.

Partner identification
As part of the canvas process we identified a number of potential partners, both inside and outside the organisation, that could be involved in some way in delivering the services. These people are our great white hope for maintaining some architectural thinking going forward.

Process maps
Each service had a simple process map constructed for it. This showed the bits that were specific to our team and which bits might be more generic, delivered by shared services or other parts of the ecosystem.

Fit potential partners into the ecosystem
Our next step is to approach the identified partners and see where their service models might be encouraged to overlap.

Risk mitigation
The final step is to make plans to mitigate the risk of losing one or more members of the team.

In the spirit of openness a very rough and first draft version of our canvas is available on Google Docs.

So with all of this in mind how might the future of EA look in Devon? To recap on a post by Jeff Scott – Forrester in his post the future of EA where he outlined 5 different scenarios for the future of EA, we suggested that in Devon the most likely outcome would be either scenerio 3 or 4 or a combination of both.

However the Virtualisation of the Services is actually more about building capacity for going beyond scenario 5  (EA Splits into different groups) – we are actually suggesting a 6th scenario where the core competencies and services of EA are mainstreamed into business functions.

This is about creating a truly collaborative approach to Enterprise Architecture, essentially building a network of Architects and in the short term providing them with the methodologies, standards, models etc to deliver and contribute to Enterprise goals.

It is of course work in progress so we value comments and feedback 🙂

Virtualising Enterprise Architecture for Sustainability

This post was written by Carl Haggerty and Martin Howitt.

We are currently facing some of the toughest times in the council,  budgets are being reduced and staff will inevitably be made redundant. The future for some looks very grim and whether the Enterprise Architecture Team (EA Team) survives the next 12 months in its current form is very much unclear.

One thing is certain, though: in periods of rapid and deep change, enterprise architecture as a discipline provides a whole range of value-adding tools, methods, models and attitudes that could make the difference between a well-executed shrinkage of the organisation and one that destroys much more value than it should.

Therefore some (well all of us really) in the team believe that it is better to equip and build capacity in order to drive forward the disciplines and methodologies of Enterprise Architecture than to simply naval gaze and try and justify whether or no we should exist when front line services are being threatened – Carl has blogged previously about the future of EA is no EA.

To some degree the fate and future of the team is in the hands of the political powers and they have the unenviable task of balancing the needs of communities with priorities for the council. That will mean people losing their jobs.

To be clear about what services the EA Team currently provides, let us just share with the outline and scope of what we do. Martin has blogged broadly about EA Services before.

Research
Examples of the value we add are:

  • key trends, risks and methods for strategic change
  • Communication of vision
  • challenge & lateral thinking
  • translation of strategy into different formats
  • direction setting for solution architecture/design
  • reduce friction for projects/programmes
  • “values” input to portfolio management
  • market intelligence to improve IT/business relationship

Consultancy
Examples of the value we add are:

  • Increased value of project outcomes (Internal and External)

Education
Examples of the value we add are:

  • Awareness of current issues in technology and business
  • Context around certain projects and developments with the organisation
  • Local Government Perspective on certain trends
  • Knowledge
  • “Art of the Possible” (eg if we implemented practice x or solution y, what could we achieve)

Assurance
Examples of the value we add are:

  • Standards, work load control
  • Visibility of work
  • Communication of situation, management of expectations

Modelling
Examples of the value we add are:

  • Linking National to Local; Influence National Strategies
  • Key Trends; Shared Service Design; Externalised Services; Integration; Co-ordination
  • Accessibility, Accountability, Facilitation
  • Visioning; Cost Reduction, Risk Reduction, Organisational Performance, Design, Business Modelling
  • Planning Strategic Change; Service Delivery Models;
  • Key Trends; Local Service Design
  • Strategy; Standards, Architectures, Assurance
  • Strategic alignment; Architecture Definition; Standards Definition
  • Consulting uses models to assist customers: Education uses models to educate and inform; Assurance uses models to guide decisions

Since we adopted the service model over 12 months ago, it’s become clear that we are overlapping with other parts of the organisation – our Learning and Development team, for example, provide an Education service even if it doesn’t focus on the same subject matter as us.

Understanding these overlaps gives us an opportunity to form partner relationships which will have the effect of driving EA thinking deeper into the organisational fabric. This process of understanding where the overlaps exist has also made us think about whether we should be leading these services for the council, or whether we could simply instill Enterprise Architecture disciplines into other parts of the organisation and in effect virtualise the services across different teams and functions and therefore perhaps creating a more sustainable approach to Enterprise Architecture in the council.

In our next post we are going to outline the process we are using to make this happen.

The Future of EA is no EA

An excellent blog post by Jeff Scott from Forrester on the future of EA has got me thinking about the most likely future state of EA in DCC.

The most obvious future and one which i entirely agree with is that EA as a function will disappear in time. My previous post about mainstreaming ICT functions supports this view as everything becomes a core business competency. But what happens between now and then and what direction are we really moving in and more importantly what direction will the organisation accept us to move in?

In my personal opinion i would suggest the there are two options which are most likely in DCC over the next few years and i think we are likely to end up with both of these scenarios:

Scenario 3: EA remains in IT, largely focused on technology architecture.This seems to be the most likely outcome for small to medium sized IT organizations. In this option business architecture will be developed primarily as input into the technical architecture. The key to success here will be for EAs to evolve from technology planners to true IT strategists.

Scenario 4: EA remains in IT but becomes more business focused.This model will be prevalent in medium to large IT organizations where IT has developed a strong partnership with the business. Here, EAs will be welcome at the business planning table and will be well regarded by business and IT for their ability to match business needs with IT capabilities. The business architecture focus here will be business-IT alignment. EA’s resources will be about evenly split between BA and technology initiatives. Successful architects will be very business savvy but keep their technology roots.

There are some justifications behind my thinking which i will share with you now.

Scenario 3
The likelihood of this future is related to a number of key factors – the ability for the EA team to maintain business people within it.  If this is maintained then this future will become less likely, however without real Business engagement and acceptance across all areas of the organisation to the benefits of Enterprise Architecture as an approach and not just conversations between ICT people and Business people trying to bridge the gap, then we will inevitably resort to Technical Architecture work.

Scenario 4
The likelihood of this future is already taking shape, our new ICT strategy is very much business focused and we already have a team in the business who are leading on Information Architecture. The challenges for this scenario however are again the ability of the team to engage with Business people and to maintain the business skills already developed in the team. However i would suggest that over time the focus of the team will be driving the technical architecture in response to the business. I also think that the business architecture function will not only be about Business/IT alignment but the architecture of the IT function itself.

If we get to a point where the IT function has had appropriate levels of business architecture then it would seem a likely next step to embrace Scenario 1 and 2 – The EA team disappears as a unique function and is absorbed totally by the Business as a core competency.

In my humble opinion we would have succeeded as an Enterprise Architecture function if this outcome is achieved.

No Overall Control – a Future State of ICT

With all the continual talk about how ICT connects more with the Business and how the Business needs to understand ICT more, I have started to think about where all of this will inevitably lead us, plus you hear people say “if we could only solve this problem we would start to get more from our investments in IT”

I’ve had some great conversations with my colleague Martin Howitt about this topic and i want to share some of our thinking here.

Lets start with some of the key drivers impacting and changing Corporate ICT in organisations and in particular the Public Sector:

  • The increasing pressure on budgets and the predicted heavy cost savings and budget reductions
  • The growing influence of knowledge workers and generation XY, the increasing influence of consumerisation, social media and web 2.0 tools
  • The impact of the Cloud and the “stuff” as a service approach
  • Higher levels of IT competence and awareness of technology in general
  • Lower barriers to development tools, eg WordPress, Yahoo Pipes, Drupal, Joomla etc
  • Mobile devices and smartphones have increased information and data exchange and is driving location based, real time requirements for knowledge.

From an organisational perspective however the above creates new risks to be managed and mitigated, new security approaches that meet security standards and frameworks that enable lower cost delivery and information assurance.

This however does not reflect the current state of most corporate ICT functions across the public sector – understandably so – there are huge pressures to simply maintain services and “keep the lights on” around ICT costs.

But this just continues and encourages the separation of skills, so that ICT manages and decides ICT investment and the Business states the requirements and writes the strategies to provide direction.

To really address the gap between people in ICT and people who work in the Business (people outside of ICT) you actually need to start moving the competencies that IT Professionals have into the Business. There has already been a lot of work on mapping and identifying skills and competencies in this area. SFIA (Skills for the Information Age) on its website states:

The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) provides a common reference model for the identification of the skills needed to develop effective Information Systems (IS) making use of Information Communications Technologies (ICT). It is a simple and logical two-dimensional framework consisting of areas of work on one axis and levels of responsibility on the other.

Via Skills for the Information Age SFIA

The SFIA framework defines 7 levels of skills: follow, assist, apply, enable, ensure/advise, initiate/influence, set strategy/inspire.

So if a whole load of ICT competencies actually sit outside the ICT department, what effect does that have on both the external departments and the internal ICT department?

The aim is to enable better exploitation of the technology now available to us in order to cut the costs of doing business, do business better, and all that good stuff.

The new Business User

  • understands their business (as now)
  • understands the IT they are currently using
  • is on the lookout for better ways of working
  • understands the value of what they are doing
  • understands how ICT helps increase that value

In terms of the SFIA framework this means skills up to and including level 3 (or maybe 4) of the SFIA framework with large elements of infrastructure and delivery either provided by business users themselves, outsourced to the cloud or provided by an in-house delivery section (this is what the old IT department looks like).

JP Rangaswami has posted on the Facebookisation of the Enterprise which sets out the core functions that a ICT Department would need to provide  an element of management /governance around.

  • Simple self-service signup – Access
  • Set of directories, and ways of adding to them, searching them, extracting from them.
  • Tools to classify the elements of the directory.
  • Communications tools.
  • Tools for scheduling events.
  • Provide a News Feed. And ways of managing the firehose
  • A developer platform with the appropriate controls and service wrap around it.
  • Via Confused of Calcutta – 3 Posts on Facebookisation of the Enterprise

So the new Business User needs a re-factored IT department to allow the business to generate value from this core solutions architecture. This Department:

  • Researches new trends and provides analysis of strengths, weaknesess, opportunities and threats to the whole business including IT
  • Provides analysis of performance across the business and where ICT Investments add value and deliver business outcomes
  • Provides consultancy ensuring that the exploitation of IT Investments are realised across the whole business
  • provides Portfolio Management of IT and all internal investments
  • Models the organisation – Ensuring the architecture of the enterprise is fit for purpose – Business Architecture, Information Architecture, Technology Architecture, Security Architecture, Solutions Architecture etc
  • Ensures standards for procurement and support – e.g security architecture for / cost benefit analysis
  • Provides or signposts relevant resources for learning and development around new technologies and solutions
  • Provides assurance that projects meet and contribute to corporate strategy and business plans

In local government, this can be a tall order. To some extent we rely on external bodies (such as SOCITM) to provide a level of analysis to underpin the work and we have to re-use existing models like the ESD toolkit to aid in the modelling. We get some security standards from bodies like CESG (via brokers such as Government Connect) but there is no overarching CIO body for local government in the same way that, for example, John Suffolk acts for central government departments. The Government ICT strategy should, in our view, be setting all this out to enable adoption of new cost-saving delivery models like the G-cloud – which should in term be providing the sort of infrastructure that forms our common solutions architecture.

However without any real central leadership for local government, we will only ever approach this challenge in isolation and miss the opportunity for fundamental and radical cost savings.

Emergent Governance and Enterprise “Business” Architecture

As an Enterprise Architect, you would think that the current financial situation would probably provide the most appropriate climate for Enterprise Architecture – and you would be right. However in the current UK Public Sector context we need to ensure even more than ever that we can consistently demonstrate not just to our managers, but our managers, managers, that we are offering and delivering value across the whole Organisation and across the Enterprise (in local government terms this can include our partners).

The challenge that we face is two fold:

1) Our constant communication and stakeholder engagement challenge – we have plans to communicate and methods for engagement, but we also need to build trust around our deliverables and that is not always in our control, as we don’t provide project/programme management. We do however provide assurance, but we are still developing this alongside the wider governance framework.  It is also not always that easy to simply say that just because we want to encourage and develop re-usable IT components and provide a more agile IT infrastructure and development model that business stakeholders will see you delivering value. These aspects take time and require an Enterprise Architecture programme to be delivered from start to finish. It doesn’t happen overnight, well not in the Public Sector. What the business generally wants is results and not just results but results NOW. They often see more value in project management, although some still think that is a luxury within projects.

The following is an extract from Rik Laurens from CapGemini who outlines this in a much better way that i do.

Projects are managed by projects managers. And good project managers do what they are paid for: reach a predefined target, within time and within budget. It’s good that we have them. And they should stay. But today we are not only interested in a bunch of stove-piped project deliverables anymore. We want re-use of IT assets across projects and we are more than ever interested in project deliverables that are interoperable across the enterprise and beyond and play a role in a broader context. Yes, we still love our project managers that focus on a particular scope and protect that particular scope. But in this era of cloud computing, interoperability, re-use and agility we also need a strong, corporate body that safeguards that the projects are not only doing what is good for the projects themselves but also (or more importantly) do what is good for the enterprise as a whole.

via nterprise Architecture: The Only Way Forward | Capping IT Off | Capgemini

2) We are not always seen as “Enterprise” Architects, mostly we are seen as IT Architects of one kind or the other (we are based within Corporate IT) and that is a boundary that most of the organisation is comfortable with.  This is a big challenge as my role within the team along with a colleague is to develop for the first time an “Enterprise Business Architecture” (EBA).

The EBA challenge is in my opinion a similar one but one which in order to build trust and build some momentum requires a different approach. It is important to acknowledge that we have an agreed Enterprise Architecture programme and have Governance around this but it needs developing and adapting to ensure that it meets the needs of the other architectural effort we are doing. (Information, Technology, Solutions and Business) This is where i believe to help gain some traction and some buy in around “IT people” getting involved in Business issues, we need to find a back door in.

I have thought about this for some time and i’m not sure whether or not it is the right thing to do, but i guess the right thing can only be measured by the type of organisation you work within.

I believe that Governance is the key to unlocking the potential of Enterprise Business Architecture in my organisation and that if we as a team can define, model and deliver a framework of governance that actually supports the over programme. It is worth noting that our Enterprise Architecture team is only 2 years old, so i consider all of what we have done a remarkable success all things considered, but we always want to do more.

The key to governance in my opinion is ensuring that we understand what form of governance we wish to support alongside the type of participation model the culture currently allows. I have posted my thoughts on a Governance Ladder on my personal blog. However in this context we need to ensure that our governance framework is Agile and allows for “Emergent Governance”:

The notion of  emergence, where intelligence is manifested from a collection of minds, is a core concept in chaos theory and the underlying principle in James Surowiecki’s  The Wisdom of Crowds. Scientists have long noted that, on average, the assessments of a crowd are more likely to be correct than the proclamations of an individual expert. From Elisabeth Noelle Neuman’s work on predicting election outcomes ( The Spiral of Silence), to the  central limit theorem that underlies statistical sampling methodology, the emergence of intelligence from large groups has been well established.

The exciting opportunities for governance presented by social networking and collaboration technologies are palpable. The election of a president who understands this potential portents a new golden age for democracy. Perhaps

via Emergent Governance: Who Needs Bees When the Grassroots Swarm the White House

The interesting aspect and similarity i see here is that we have recently undergone some dramatic changes at the top of the organisation. A new Political Administration and a number of our Corporate Management Board retired, this presents opportunities that must be explored and pursued. So with the challenge set out, we now embark on the journey.

Doing the right thing – Todd Biske» IT Needs To Be More Advisory

An excellent blog post by Todd Biske.

IT needs to change its fundamental thinking from provider to advisor or be at risk of becoming irrelevant.

via Todd Biske: Outside the Box » Blog Archive » IT Needs To Be More Advisory.

What i find interesting about this post is that it supports what we are trying to do here in Devon with our Enterprise Architecture Team.

The key point about moving from provider to advisor is as Todd says “stating the obvious” but it clearly does require a fundamental shift in thinking not just within ICT departments but within the wider business as well.

Todd writes:

To illustrate this, take an example from the world of financial services. A broker may simply be someone you call up and say, “Buy 100 shares of APPL at no more than $200.” They are a provider of stock transaction services. A financial advisor on the other hand, should be asking about what your needs are, and matching those against the various financial offerings they have at their disposal. If they don’t understand client needs or if they don’t understand the financial offerings, you’re at risk of getting something sub-optimal.

This is correct, however in a work context, someone has to know that they want an advisor and not a broker, so part of the challenge is shifting the perception of the entire ICT function in the organisation from “provider” to “advisor”. This requires educating and working with your internal customers and delivering value in an advisory role. We believe that our Enterprise Architecture function is part of this transformation here in Devon.

Time will tell but it is reassuring to hear people such as Todd state the obvious and support your efforts.

Lost In Translation – The trouble with Business/IT Alignment

One of the biggest challenges with business transformation and technology enabled change, is the ability of both people in the business and in IT to sit down and have a conversation with each other and for that conversation to be fully understood by all concerned. Ok, there are many other challenges such as benefits realisation, programme management, culture change, but aren’t they all people based and therefore conversation based?

Now i am simplifying this somewhat but it is a challenge that people in IT and that includes me now (my previous role of corporate web manager was based within corporate communications)

To give an indication as to the issue i thought i’d use a video from you tube. It is 40 seconds long and is about the German Coastguard.

What i find interesting about this video is that for me it kind of sums up the challenge faced by IT. In the video the guy has all the technology he needs in front of him to do his job and support a wider network of other professionals, who all have the same goal (save people). However with all that technology what lets the person down is the ability to understand the “customer”.

The ability to have “conversations” is becoming the new skill that people require in order to support change. Now i also want to make the point that people in the Business also need to learn how to have better and more productive conversations with people in IT.

Now having worked in the Business for some time, i can already hear people saying “Why should i learn how to interact with IT?” Well the answer is simple, as the pressure of budget reductions increases, technology will become even more critical for progressive business transformation across organisations. It is therefore a priority for Business people to get a real understanding of the applications that support their business and the opportunities they present. If Business people can’t do that then we end up losing the opportunities as they get “lost in translation” between IT people (who don’t understand business) and Business people (who don’t understand IT).

This is however a journey we all have to make together, as a partnership, a fellowship, a collaborative effort, whatever the terminology we decide to choose. Like most journey’s the value is not the destination but what you learn along the way.

Find the IT Innovator Within – HBR

This is a excellent post and describes in my opinion the very reason why Enterprise Architecture is essentially increasing across organisations.

To enable the business to make more decisions and to take the control away from IT themselves to enable a more responsive and flexible IT organisation.

I really like the concept of the “IT Gate” programme. I can see real value in that within a local government situation.

companies need to charter an IT “gifted-and-talented” program (“Gate”) that gives lead users special IT privileges — the best tools, equipment, education, and support — as long as they agree to “first do no harm,” clean up their own messes, and support the less-talented around them.

via Find the IT Innovator Within – Susan Cramm – Harvard Business Review.

A new recruit

Hi I’m Carl and I joined the team as an Enterprise Architect at the beginning of February, i usually blog here about the work I am involved in in raising awareness and encouraging others to participate and try social media and social networking within Devon County Council. I will now also be blogging here on Enterprise Architecture issues and opportunities.

Within the last 13 days I have been asked what I do an abnormal amount of time and when i reply “Enterprise Architect” most peoples faces go blank or they say something  “Oh, you’re in IT then, that is interesting, – pause – what exactly do you do then” generally followed by a smile so not to cause embarrassment.  I always reply first with “it is about business change and transformation, its not about IT” and follow that up with pictures and scenarios as i find this is the easiest way to get the basic message across as to what the role is there to do.

Essentially as a core requirement, for me it is about conversations and listening to where the business wants to go and then working with others, either in ICT, Strategic Intelligence or Business Transformation to enable and facilitate that change. Easy to say, harder to actually do, but as a team we all want to make a difference and from what I have seen the team have made some significant steps forward.

As a fan of social media and web 2.0, i have found the “2.0” appearing after many professions or activities lately and Enterprise Architecture appears to be no different as this site demonstrates. In the “Call for Chapters” section it highlights a number of proposed topics that the next generation of Enterprise Architecture will support, some of which we have here in Devon.

In the meantime, i still need to get to grips with EA 1.0 in Devon County Council.