Improve decision making using Enterprise Architecture
The everyday IT challenge
This week I met with a governmental organisation executing an important duty. In a variety of Business and IT roles we discussed about a very recognizable and urgent challenge: the lack of an enterprise architecture or an enterprise architectural mindset if you like. Due to all kind of valid reasons their Business-IT alignment had become and is becoming ever more challenging. There’s only fragmented insight, information analysis needs to be redone for similar questions and key information and business processes are managed via spreadsheets. Just to name a few examples.
While starting discussing the operational consequences –sub optimal decisions, high workload, island automation- we moved on to the more tactical and strategic challenges. How to enter the digital transformation era and embed topics like Advanced Analytics, IoT and Smart Services on top? Gradually the sense of urgency to have business and IT better aligned increased. We prevented the mood from deteriorating by jumping into the possible solutions.
In my experience there’s often an immediate adverse to consider these kind of architecture initiatives as they sound quite overwhelming, lengthy, difficult and costly whilst they don’t bring immediate benefits. But when peeling the onion, what’s actually really needed? The answer: an enterprise architectural mindset! A vertical approach with the ability to create multiple viewpoints to discuss a topic. Views showing the impact on business, information, application and technology will help each stakeholder to understand the broader picture. As a result, the decision making process will improve.
Small viability project
There was a general consensus this would indeed be helpful. But how to start? My advice was start as small as possible and just test viability of such an approach. Introduce architectural thinking in an actual, hot business topic with significant visibility in the company. To make it very explicit: model the most important business, information, application and technology aspects of the topic, including their relevant context and interconnections. This enables creating multiple viewpoints so stakeholders get to understand the aspects outside their silo. By understanding and weighting the solutions against principles on each layer the decision making process will be improved.
But don’t jump in it too fast. Spend some upfront thinking please. Carefully consider the personas including their technical as well as social skills required. Define an approach and timeline, deliverables, key success factors and a communication plan. Prevent becoming a submarine but rather be transparent, share progress and outcomes regularly and evaluate the journey. And most important, have fun and learn from it! Depending the outcomes, prioritize the most valuable aspects in determining the next steps in an agile Enterprise Architecture journey.
I’m sure you will have thoughts or comments. I highly encourage you to share them here or contact me directly if you like to further discuss in person.