Monday, February 8, 2016

Ten practical ideas for organizing and managing your enterprise architecture



Original Article By McKinsey & Company

This is another McKinsey article on IT strategy, this time specifically about Enterprise Architecture practices.  From my own experience, I can attest to the importance to several of these EA organizational concepts, which I have highlighted below and have added my own commentary to them.

The text in grey are snippets taken directly from the original article.



1. The organization of enterprise architecture should reflect the organization of the business.


-- and it helps to have architects with deep business process experience and IT savvy, especially from within the major organizations that provide the competitive advantage for the company.  That is where most of the attention should be directed. Actions for IT utilities (email, document storage, etc) are commodity decisions; corporate functions (Finance. HR, Legal) should be considered for Platform as a Service cloud opportunities.


3. The EA department should collaborate closely with the business and the IT organization.

"To ensure that the business can live with its new architecture and that the IT organization can support it, the EA department needs to collaborate closely with both by bringing them into the design process and translating complex ideas into digestible action plans."

For strategic initiatives that require new functionality, the EA team must be engaged early in the evaluation cycle to determine if the existing application base has unused capabilities that can be brought to bear to satisfy the new requirements.  In these critical business functions, the emphasis should be on effectiveness before efficiency.  Non-strategic business functions should be relegated to efficiency decisions-- this should prevent purchasing new applications for marginal new capabilities in non-strategic areas.


5. The company should give the EA department approval rights.

"Companies should give EA departments more responsibility for certain big-picture decisions-for instance, approving new IT-related projects or changes to the technology landscape. Otherwise, the policies and guidelines the EA department develops may never gain traction across the company."

If you don't give the EA staff some teeth in enforcing the agreed-upon architecture, you might as well abandon the EA concept entirely.


7. The company should analyze and measure the effects of enterprise architecture on the business.

"There is no simple formula for measuring absolute impact, but one feasible approach might be to analyze the effects of enterprise architecture within a small pilot project, using business-specific metrics that account for interdependencies-for instance, how many applications and how many point-to-point interfaces are involved in the project, how many applications are demonstrating overlapping functionally, what portion of the overall application-development effort is dedicated to integration testing, and whether management tasks are easier and less costly as a result of the pilot project."

I have some issues with this statement, which is obviously directed more at EA staff start ups.  I think there are a few basic metrics that should be the domain of any Enterprise Architecture staff, since by its very definition is a broad view of the architecture.

  • Number of business capabilities and their correlation to business strategy
  • Number of applications/instances and their correlation to business capabilities
  • Number of integrations and integration technologies
  • Age and type of the infrastructure and underlying utilities – and the IaaS alternatives
  • Platform adoption (including SaaS and PaaS) to minimize applications and integrations
  • IT Total Cost of Ownership

The COO, CIO, and head of the EA staff can decide which KPIs to prioritize based on business needs and EA maturity, but some combination of these will lead to the appropriate direction for the alignment of business and IT strategy.



8. The EA department should keep it simple.

"Our conversations with EA professionals suggest that most are still focused inward; they tend to spend twice as much time talking with suppliers, for instance, as they do with C-suite and other business leaders. Instead, they should develop new ways to translate difficult concepts for the latter group-for instance, framing a discussion of potential changes to the enterprise architecture in the context of the new business capabilities enabled or new efficiencies gained."

This is THE challenge.

First, make the topic of conversation understandable and relevant-diagrams and pictures obviously help, as do business analogies.  Make good use of diagrams that illustrate the transitions (including timelines) from the current state to future states.  For the C-level audience, do not overly complicate the diagrams; you can add those when discussing the details with the IT staff and business SMEs.

Second, the diagrams should help the dialog turn towards actions- since that is what VPs and directors want to see- and that must include lists.  Lists of what assets you have, why you have them, who uses them, where are they, how much they cost, when are they going away.  Most importantly, lists that will highlight actions to needed to provide new capabilities for critical business functions while simplifying the overall IT environment and increasing its technological flexibility.  Which takes you back to the KPIs outlined in #7 above.

You can read supplemental information and anecdotes about several of these topics embedded within The Clear IT Architecture case studies.

You can read the entire McKinsey article HERE.


Good reading,
Nathan

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Two ways to modernize IT systems for the digital era by McKinsey

This is a very well structured article from McKinsey that outlines how to deliver agile customer facing solutions while maintaining the robust services needed from your back end systems to provide the underlying data and process reliability that is expected of all on-line businesses today.  The outlined approach requires the business to separate the back-end application development cycle to make sure they are being maintained for internal processing, while at the same time allowing more rapid release cycles and experimentation with the front-end applications-- where there is so much dynamic demand for modifying applications to satisfy the new digital customer.

If you are in an on-line business, this is a good example of differentiating applications by their impact to your business so you can focus the right amount of resources on those business functions that are strategic imperatives based on a new competitive environment.  Furthermore, it would be very beneficial to make sure that your on-line application is a platform that enables you to manage a rapidly change via configuration and integration rather than a lot of coding changes.

Enjoy,
Nathan


Two ways to modernize IT systems for the digital era

Originally posted by Juan Garcia Avedillo, Duarte Begonha, and Andrea Peyracchia of Mckinsey

Outdated IT systems are often the biggest Achilles' heel for established companies seeking to compete successfully against upstarts. Every executive knows the problem. Established companies try to get as much as they can from their investments in legacy systems. When they come up against the systems' limitations, they devise patches or work-arounds. While useful in the short term, over time these remedies can create incompatibilities among discrete layers of the technology stack and among applications within a layer. Companies may find that they are actually increasing their operating costs in the long run and missing opportunities to embrace more efficient and more innovative ways of working through digitization.

By contrast, newer online competitors - unburdened by legacy IT systems - benefit from agile product-development cycles and delivery systems, digital operating models, and lower operating costs. They can experiment and test software releases frequently with users to respond quickly to market shifts. They can pursue hypertargeted marketing strategies, learning as they go from the consumer data they collect. Such companies have been able to accelerate their time to market with new products and improve customers' experiences.

To realize similar advantages, established companies will need to simplify their core IT systems while still keeping the lights on. That’s what one European utility did: by eliminating the operational drag from its legacy IT system, it was able to shave its costs of providing customer service by 15 percent... Continue Reading




About the Author
Nathan Claridy is an executive consultant to companies with broad IT challenges in enterprise architecture, system simplification, mergers / acquisitions / divestitures, cost transformation, and cloud adoption. He has been working as an Enterprise Architecture consultant with Griffin Solutions Group for two years; prior to that, he was the Enterprise Architect for Motorola Mobility for almost 4 years. Nathan has over 20 years of experience in Supply Chain Operations and Information Technology at Motorola and Harris corporations...

Read Full Biography Connect on LinkedIn






Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Clear IT Architecture, an Atlanta Enterprise Architecture Company

Welcome to Clear IT Architecture, a new division of Griffin Solutions Group.  We are based in Alpharetta, GA to provide IT architecture services to the Atlanta areas as well as other parts of the southeast or the US as necessity dictates.

We are a small team of Enterprise and Solution architects that enjoy analyzing business problems and finding suitable solutions.  We start by interviewing your business executives and IT leaders to understand your business imperatives, then comparing your IT inventory to the business strategy to see where the gaps are in functionality, technology, capacity, and cost.

You will find detailed information about our team and experience in providing IT solutions to a wide range of companies and industries, as well as more in-depth material on our services and processes.




About the Author
Nathan Claridy is an executive consultant to companies with broad IT challenges in enterprise architecture, system simplification, mergers / acquisitions / divestitures, cost transformation, and cloud adoption. He has been working as an Enterprise Architecture consultant with Griffin Solutions Group for two years; prior to that, he was the Enterprise Architect for Motorola Mobility for almost 4 years. Nathan has over 20 years of experience in Supply Chain Operations and Information Technology at Motorola and Harris corporations...

Read Full Biography Connect on LinkedIn





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