Reorganising the Reorganisation of the Organisation

We live in a changing, and challenging, world. If we weren’t sure about that before, we certainly are now. So where does Enterprise Architecture sit in the middle of all that change?

We could sit under the kitchen table with out hands over our heads and wait for the noise to stop. We could run out into the street screaming and shouting and generally getting hysterical. Neither fit our style. Instead we chose to continue doing what we do in a controlled, calm and professional manner.

Why?

Because all of this change that is going on only serves to remind me that Enterprise Architecture is needed even more than ever right now. We have the vision, we have the blueprint, blimey – we even have principles! What more could you ask for when looking to answer the tough question that is being asked of us all – “How do we continue to provide the services that the citizens of Devon need, using 25% less resources and with 25% less people?”

My answer to that would be to be clear about what you are trying to do, to do it once, and do it in the most efficient way possible.

Reminds me of the good old days of TQM! In those days though, times were good and resources could be thrown at a problem – sorry – opportunity!

Today times are challenging.

As a team of Enterprise Architects we need to make sure that people take advantage of us (in the nicest possible way!). We need to ensure that everyone knows what we do, what our vision is, what principles are and how they can apply them to their part of the organisation. Personally, I don’t think that reorganisations should take place in silos. People should not be concerned about protecting their “patch”, we have one single purpose and we should be viewed as one organisation – a single enterprise.

Or, maybe, I am just trying to protect my patch?

From IT to Enterprise

Have you tried to reposition Enterprise Architecture out of IT and into the Enterprise? Any advice would be gratefully received!

We in Local Government are living through a time of re-organisation, re-focussing and re-budgetting. In fact our reorganisation is being reorganised as I type! Not an easy world to live in, but one that offers up hope and opportunity. Perhaps not for individuals, but certainly for the organisation as a whole. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the face of local government, and get away from the perception that most non-local government people have about us.

We will no longer be huge anonymous entities who do “stuff” that no-one can name. Almost every day now in the press there is talk of service cuts – not good, but bringing to the public’s attention the amazing, important and varied work that we do, usually quietly in the background – is good. More and more people are appreciating the role we play in society, be it big or otherwise.

Our personal circumstances find this EA team with an opportunity to show the rest of the organisation what we can do, and how we can offer true Enterprise Architecture. Over the next week or so we will be concentrating our efforts on developing our Services Model to communicate what that actually means. Currently it concentrates on IT as that is where we have historically sat in the organisation, and we need to expand it out to the whole. It is an exciting opportunity, and we are really looking forward to developing our thinking.

Meanwhile, we still need to ensure that our IT architecture holds up, and develop a new assurance model for the new way of working.  If nothing else, the start of 2011 is a busy one for us!

Happy 2011!

A person reflection and wish-list!

They say the only thing that stays the same in Local Government is change, and they are not wrong. Yet again we face a reorganisation between New Year and the new Financial Year, and yet again it is all about saving money. We all understand the current financial climate, but if I had three wishes for this year, my first would be that we don’t change things just for the sake of changing things.

Let’s do things strategically.

What do we want the organisation to look like in five years time? No – not tomorrow, or April, or even this time next year – we need to be much more focussed on the long term. Why? Well – if we don’t we will just end up doing more of the same old salami slicing of services and end up doing nothing really well.

Once we understand what we want in the long term we can start building towards it. Until then we should do nothing.

My second wish for 2011 is that we use the immense skills that we have in the organisation. Just because you have a specific job title, or work in a particular area does not mean you shouldn’t be involved in helping in other areas or on other projects. Everyone should be recognised as working for the Council first, and our individual managers second.

My final wish for 2011 is that we achieve as much as we did in 2010 and a bit more!

Stay happy and healthy.

Communication

We are doing a lot of work at the moment around communication.

We have  done some excellent work over the last year – the trouble is that not a lot of people know what we have done! We need to get much smarter about communicating our efforts and making sure the value of our work is appreciated by a much wider audience. We are in the process of producing a brochure based around EA Services.

We have used the Gartner defined services of Consultancy, Research, Education, Assurance and Modelling. The observant amongst you will note that the initals spell ‘cream’ – which means we become the cream of Devon! Having done a bit of explaining around those headings, we have given a few examples of the work we have done so far. The intention is to have case studies around those to provide a more in depth view of our work.

We have a great communications plan and stakeholder analysis, we now need to put that into action.

As we enter the new financial year, with all the budget constraints that will bring, it is vital that we are seen as an important partner in the business who can help make the organisation better, leaner and more efficient.

Just wondering

What are we?

We are Enterprise Architects, thinkers, dreamers, intelligence gatherers, visionaries, police, communicators, persuaders, presenters, sharers, writers, budget planners, strategists, principled … Is there any wonder we find it hard to explain who we are and what we do! 🙂

Communicate, communicate, communicate

That’s the message we are getting about EA in general – we need to communicate better! To that end, we have spent two days together this week looking at all things “communication”.

It’s been a good two days, we have worked on who we are, what we are, stakeholders and key messages – we even have a new tag line – as shown above. I hope you like it!

Trying to put all we have talked about into practice is going to be a challenge for all of us, but we like a challenge!

Happy New Year!

With 2009 now upon us I felt obliged to write something here! I am not one for resolutions, but I do firmly believe in setting goals.

As an NLP believer I can honestly say that without setting personal goals I would not have achieved anything like the amount I have. I am truly grateful to Newcastle College for allowing me to study as a Life Coach. I can’t say that I have managed to help anyone else, but it has certainly helped me. If you think that I am going on to write a list of all the stuff I hope to achieve in 2009 here – you are wrong! That’s for me to know and you to discover as we go through the year.

2009 is going to be an interesting year for us at Devon County Council. We will spend the first 3 months planning for something that may not happen. At the end of March, we will get the Government verdict on the Local Government Review. Will we be one big Unitary Devon, two smaller Unitaries, or will we stay as we are? Who knows, but what ever the outcome, there is plenty to keep us busy.

The first thing we are looking forward to is a hosted Sharepoint site for the LGR planning. We hope to work that hard to discover all that we have been missing! It will really help us plan our own installation which will hopefully come later in 2009. Then we have a trial of blueKiwi – that should be fun! We seem to have gone from zero to 100mph on the old “social media” front – but I’ll leave those musings to Carl – he is the expert!

So, a busy and exciting year ahead for all of us. Happy New Year to all of you – and here’s to bigger, bolder and brighter things this year!

Making a Difference

In January the Enterprise Architects Team will be a year old and after a few fire-fighting decisions made this week, I am starting to reflect on what difference we have actually made to the organisation.

It has been an interesting time, moving from having to look up the definition of Enterprise Architecture, to living and breathing it. The team have jelled really well (my opinion – I guess the others will have to give theirs), and we have learned an enormous amount. We have a really clear idea about what the business wants from ICT in order for them to move forward, and we even have some principles in place for decision making. Communication is coming on, and we are starting to get the message across. All great progress.

What is proving really hard is actually changing anything. All I seem to do at the moment is provide the spanner that gets firmly planted in the works. Moving from what we do now (and have done since 1845 if you listen to some people), to what we should do, is hard. We have “pie in the sky” ideas, all firmly planted in reality – they are what the business wants, but we can’t seem to deliver because the day job gets in the way. Sometimes I wish I could stop the world turning, just for a week, catch up and start again.

I suppose what we are facing is an inevitable consequence of having a team of people going out and actually asking people what they want – fatal! :O)

I am now looking at this whole programme as turning around the archetypal tanker, it is going to take a long time. We are going to have to keep plugging away with the communication, and adding our 5p’s worth at each and every opportunity that comes our way. We are changing now from our “discovery” phase into a patient dripping tap phase.

I think we will need determination and patience – we can do that – no problem. We can do it because we have a real clear vision. We know where we need to go.

The Beginning

As a new team of Enterprise Architects, our first task was to get to grips with what Enterprise Architecture (EA) actually means. There are millions of pages on the Web that will give you various flavours of EA, what to do and where to start. It was evident that we needed a consistent plan and some expertise in the area. To help, we chose Gartner as our consultants and joined their EA programme. This provides us with not only expert research and analysis, but also support from one of the Analysts, allowing us to move at our pace, but towards a tried and tested goal.

Now we have a plan, we are working through the various documents we need to produce. Our first challenge was the EA Charter – this has now been written and has been ratified by our Governance process. Then came the Common Requirements Vision – again this has been done and agreed.

Next on the list are the Principles – the over-arching principles for the Enterprise Architecture. To do this we have started to engage actively with the business, and each Enterprise Architect is now linked with a specific Directorate and member of the Governance group. This has brought many benefits. This close liaison has allowed us to “sanity check” our thinking – making sure what we think the business needs is indeed what the business needs, and to shape the priorities for the future vision. Now we have to agree with them the principles that will guide us towards that vision. It is a challenge – but an immensely rewarding one.

Welcome

Our first post. We have some catching up to do!

The team of six Enterprise Architects was officially set up in March 2008 to realise the ICT strategy in Devon County Council. Our main remit is to work closely with the business to discover their future plans and visions to enable us to build a “future state architecture”. If you have done Managing Successful Programmes you will be familiar with the concept of a blueprint – that’s what we are aiming for – a blueprint of the technology, business and information needs of the County Council. Once we have that picture we can start the gap analysis – how do we get from where we are now, to where we want to be in the future.

Can you see the inherant difficulty in that? That future state will constantly move. Things change. Change is what we do.

So, we need to start small and build a comprehensive picture that will be easy to maintain and update as those things change. It is a challenge, but one that we are all enthusiastic about taking. We look forward to taking you with us too.