Author Archives: Morten Stender

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Long live the Digital Planning

Category:EA,UK Blog,Uncategorized Tags : 

Digital Planning is the discipline to work with long-term strategic actions without being detailed of how to implement activities. It provides an overall investment focus to values and outcomes and how this ties into the investment streams to provide digital road-maps for planning. While the old approach of power-point based IT Road-map planning seems dead, e.g. see the post by Patrick Gray,  then the digital formulation of it may survive  – in particular in the form of mindset and direction-setting that keeps the the main purpose of planning.

Planning may be situational, just like detailed plans always will depend on the specific case, situation and conditions. The difficult part of planning is the uncertainty of the future: One may shorten the horizon to improve the likelihood of estimate,  improve the underlying model, or reduce the feedback from the prediction to mitigate the uncertainty. However, does it in context of strategy and market remove the need for planning? The answer is “no”. The ubiquitous purpose of strategic planning is to become aware and be prepared – and that clearly involves more stakeholders and is very different from the actual plans or project performance. We came to the conclusion that there are five fundamentals as to why strategic planning is important – and despite their inherent uncertainty, they are more required than ever!

  1. The opposite of Planning is not no-planning; the opposite seems to be detailed plans that are excelled into beyond the point of validity. Planning serves a higher purpose.
  2. Projects differ in uncertainty – to what degree are they repetitive and common? Should we really apply the same methodology to all types of development?
  3. Situational transition dictates what methodology to apply  – How to secure the right toolbox for the right type of development?
  4. The definition of Planning is that well defined? If you ask the chef, planning is to have the groceries for the dinner same day, whereas for the farmer to produce the crop for harvesting season. Do we mean the same even though we use the same wording?
  5. Not to mention the data-connectivity – only an old-school architects would do IT Road-maps in PowerPoint. If planning is democratized, poor planning is the same as a poor information based on no-connectivity and silo-approach.

Let’s go through these fundamentals one-by-one:

A: The opposite of Planning is not no-planning

The ubiquitous purpose of planning is to become aware and prepare. So planning has a value to understand, e.g. why a competitive product or service is challenging a revenue, and very different from executing a marketing plan without changing it – or changing the product or service, if indicators show the battle will not be won. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said,

“In preparing for battle, I always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable”.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

For a company to survive the coming 3 or 10 years,  it is hard to argue that no considerations of external threats, technology changes, emergent legislation should not be considered. But equally fair to guess, that even considered, the actual impact will not be fully understood until later in time. May well be that the forecast is poor and the prediction ends up being wrong or displaced, but planning as the preparation and improving the agility of what to respond as an enterprise is indispensable. The purpose of keeping the foundation of the planning intact is crucial in a digital world. Scenarios of what-if alternatives might be understood, and the opposite is not no-planning. The opposite is a constant pressure on doing the execution of the approved plans.

B: Projects differ in uncertainty

To what degree are they repetitive and common? Should we really apply the same methodology to all projects? Agile is certainly something we advocate for open-ended discussion, but if you happen to have more close-ended solutions, the construct of agile approach may be much too time-consuming. Agile goes well when everyone is uncertain – that will eventually lead to planning. However, if the project is to setup yet another new shop, the type of project may not be new, and the approach to seek experiments and agility may be less urgent.

C: Situational transition dictates what methodology to apply

The STARS approach by Michael D. Watkins ought to be mandatory reading for all information architects.

If you have something to protect such as knowledge, services, brands or patents, you will likely be in a sustain or realignment situation where you have time to act and provide planning of how to secure your assets as part of a business transformation.

Typically architects asked to help in a turn-around or start-up’s will have a much harder time, when speed of action weighs higher than thinking to protect parts of as-is. One could argue, that that the act of planning, in case of a change in oil prices is really to prepare for a worst case scenario, such as a 50% cut in price per barrel, before it happens. But as we don’t know the prices in the future, the specific plans are likely of no use – but if we can carve-out the actions to take given specific what-if conditions, that may be indispensable as the new way to do long-term planning.

D: The definition of Planning is that well defined?

Is the definition of Planning that well defined? If you ask a chef, planning is to have the groceries for the dinner that evening the same day, whereas the farmer needs to know what to grow before harvesting season. Do we mean the same even though we use different wording?

According to Wikipedia,

“Planning is the process of thinking about and organizing the activities required to achieve a desired goal. It involves the creation and maintenance of a plan, such as psychological aspects that require conceptual skills. As such, planning is a fundamental property of intelligent behavior.”

So even here planning has a wide range of meanings, and provided the desired goal is to continue as an enterprise, we should all maintain a plan of how to survive in the market. Maybe that is different from the actual 3-year road-map, however, if the plan mandates to migrate to a new payment platform or banking platform – how can we do this without more detailed planning?

E: Not to mention the data-connectivity

Only an old-school architect would collect excels for planning, so is poor planning the same as a poor architecture? Or could it be that poor planning is often the immediate outcome of poor information management? As described in other posts, we see the concept of living architecture or new architecture as a fundamental for successful planning. Because pace of change is increasing, and management calls for better ways to get insight to what-if. the objective of digital planning is collectively to prepare more for these events.

Which services should we expect to use the coming years? Where are the candidates for take-out? What new offerings will fuel our revenue? Such analysis should not be project deliverables, but be part of an ongoing planning where data may be connected and viewed in new ways to support few-clicks to better fact-based decision support. By revitalize the architectural information you can move the data governance to be automated and be part of the strategic agenda.

We tend to say that long-term planning needs to align with short-term planning, which is an ongoing process – and a digital process of information management. Long-live the digital planning – may be part of the digital transformation!

We power your digital mood!

 


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Do you grow your digital governance?

Category:EA,Services,UK Blog Tags : 

Whatever term one might use, the meaning of ‘digital governance’ seems to be what we all care about in larger organisations – how to automate digital information to provide a better collective transparency and insight of the enterprise. It is not just about data and it is not just about processes; it is about people –  how we work smarter and more automated as an enterprise with data and processes to improve our digital ability to drive forward better decision-making. Sometimes ‘digital’ is simply loose for data, but underneath, it  is associated with either digitization and/or digital transformation – and don’t mix up these two terms…

“Increasingly, the work we do is enabled more and more by new IT, including automation, robotics, and intelligent platforms”.
                                                                                                                                                                                — Pierre Nanterme

Working with decision processes, we need to consider that such decision-making processes are very different from business processes of a value chain; simply the characteristics of cause-and-effect are less tangible and more ‘soft’. Trying to understand the complexity and nature of the decision-making processes, we need to adapt to the company tongue, the stakeholders and the way such a business is driving decisions. It means we can still implement smarter solutions of digital governance, which is what we normally refer to when we talk ‘how we make decisions’; however, it also means that to succeed with such solutions we need to consider how to digitize and successfully grow the governance when data is not enough on its own.

“I think the automation of vision is a much bigger deal than the invention of perspective”.
— Trevor Pagien

We often talk  ‘digital governance’  in context of ‘automation’ because a digital governance will automate manual tasks. A growing governance is where we continuously get more data into the fact-based decision support, and where we achieve this by managing the organisational change federating more data to collectively become wiser. This is what enterprise information management (EIM) is all about, the outcome of enterprise architecture (EA) in a nut-shell mastering the terms and information architecture.

Governance requires corporate information as fuel, and needs to be flexible enough to accommodate to ever-changing market conditions. A digital governance will benefit from our approach to agile information management. Today there is almost a hype around business models but only few enterprises have conceptual models connecting this to business models and providing a closed-loop approach by ‘wiring’ these models to real-time operational data and planning input.

The objective of the governance of the information management is the agile construct of an enterprise-wide business model which  serves the purpose of better decision insight and strategic planning. Digital governance cannot be achieved without people, stakeholders and data. It is not about making another calif ERP; it is about recognizing the eco-system, where we provide the technology and methodology to maintain the logic model, where data can be interchanged, communicated, enriched – via  a (digital) web front end or via (digital) integration to other (digital) systems. This is about applying information management, growing it in a DevOps or agile way, to support the open-ended construct of improving the way “we make decisions”. For this, we have chosen to work with award-wining world-leading software.

“It is not about making another calif ERP; it is about seeing the eco-system, where we provide the technology and methodology to maintain the logic business model where data can be interchanged, communicated, enriched – via web front end or via integration to other systems”.

So what is it that we solve with a growing digital governance? We build a connected truth as business models providing a closed-loop approach by ‘wiring’ these models to real-time operational data and planning input. We don’t like building architecture tools for architecture, or bakeries that bake for bakers. We like to connect the users of an enterprise by re-using data, by re-using the knowledge maintained in other systems such as data warehouses, service management tools, financial systems, HR systems, etc. We apply design thinking, so instead of the old-school of “learn a framework, buy a tool, draw some processes, then hope”, then work with rapid development tooling to apply automation processes and data by pretotyping the decision support, simply to avoid middle-layers of requirements analysts interpreting coders. So enterprise architects and strategists working with this methodology will grow the governance as DevOps, and it will keep the customer-facing activities along a succesful growing of digital governance.

Sometimes, we also see words used in this context:

  • EIM – As the overall Enterprise Information Management discipline, continuously automating information that else would be manually handled in SharePoint, Excel, Access or similar silo-based system. EIM is what provides the digital platform for execution.
  • PI – As the solution to Process Intelligence, of how to gain insight to decision support from our business processes. This typically is an automation of drawings, diagrams and emails, that otherwise would reside in distributed mailboxes with visio, powerpoints etc. With a process intelligence setup, people can collaborate on the same set of process insight as re-usable meta data.
  • CMDB – As the specific solution to service desk and IT operations. With a CMDB, people can start automate ticket flows, email and chat notifications, to automate the configuration items of IT operations.

To make the digital governance succesful, it needs to grow. To mature the governance, make it actionable and follow the data and the people in the room to discuss how decisions are taken, and then grow the outcome to make it tangible.This is what digital growing governance is all about.

We power your digital mood!

 


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How “Design Thinking” improves corporate performance

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How can a design process impact an overall corporate performance? Design Thinking really is a mindset or a paradigm of how an organisation works with human-centred problems; it is the soft skills that make the execution successful. And working with improving performance and governance, a successful execution of such an initiative is often more about the human adaptation where the mindset and behaviour is tackled better and where creativity, collaboration and iterations are factored into the approach.  It does require buy-in from the top management, but also requires buy-in from the contributors. Succeeding with strategy is more than a single person to work differently.

According to Jen Sheahan, Design Thinking should be perceived as a “mindset”; a way of approaching problems that are human-centred, but as such is nothing new. Design thinking has some interpretations associated, however, when we apply it with information management and strategy to execution, it can be boiled down to the following solution elements:

–         Preto-type

–         Collaborative

–         Short-Cycled

–         Sprints

Let’s go through these to understand why Design Thinking is considered a wise approach that may seem “lightweight”, but often also shows faster-to-market, cheaper and with higher chance of reaching the targeted outcome. As such Design Thinking is agnostic to technology, however, it does put requirements on technology to support the rapid developments embedded in the new mindset. This why we have chosen to work only with predefined technologies (MooD, Signavio, …) that support the mindset of Design Thinking.

Preto-type:
One should look up the pretotyping manifesto or some of the you tubes of Alberto Savoia. Where prototype is about developing an “early” product, pretotype is about testing the idea before building anything. And this concept can easily be applied to strategy execution and architecture, simply to support fail-fast and ensure validation of the outcome is done all-through the learning-curve of an implementation; in other words, secure validation is constantly part of development – not left entirely to testing at the end.

Collaborative:
One should look up the talk to yourself hat, by Kate Hartman to value the perspective, that architecture is not meant for architects; likewise, strategies are not meant for strategists. The entire idea of the execution is to provide a solution that interacts with people to support the collaboration and democratisation of data. This is often the hardest requirement on supporting technology where BI tools and EA tools often come short with heavy clients that allow only collaboration within specialised sub communities.

Short-Cycled:
To tackle improved business performance, Gartner operates with a market guide called Enterprise Business Process Analysis (EBPA) which is the discipline of business modelling aimed at transforming and improving business performance with an emphasis on cross viewpoint, cross function analysis and strategic decision support aimed at improving business outcomes. The fundamental principles of this performance improvement is short-cycled delivery, a light-weight but robust modelling and governance that provides frequent updates like Dev-Ops and many of the agile concepts. This is the fundamental for providing constant delivery.

Sprints:
In the discussion around agile (which to a large extend may be categorized as short-cycled), there is typically a need to structure epics and use-cases into sprints, simply as to communicate and focus development in a larger picture. The structuring of work into Sprints is key to align with management and stakeholders to provide “planning”. Management should focus on the agility and changes of the environment, hence, the ubiquitous purpose of sprints is to support the strategic planning to be prepared.

We help to align long-term planning with short-term planning, which is an ongoing process – and a digital process of information management. Long-live the digital planning. If you have questions, please make contact. We are a consulting house with senior profiles and business solutions; we provide deep expertise in digital planning, digital governance and process automation. We power your digital mood!


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Go digital – Win the inner game with process intelligence

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As part of the strategic agenda of winning the inner game and outer game, there is certain set of digital themese, where at least one of the digital themes always relate to the  operational efficiency and the digitizing of business processes. As part of the inner game, we recommend to analyse and plan for a digital theme ‘[Improving] – Process Excellence‘. This is the discipline to digitalise the existing set of processes, and provide transparency to the  business processes  as a foundational layer for the process intelligence:

Business process management (BPM) in short is a discipline for an enterprise to focus on “how we do things” to discover, structure, analyze and improve or digitalize the business processes. The core focus is to document, analyze and improve an overall corporate performance by managing the business processes more efficiently.

BPM is the field of methods, notations and technologies, however, there is increasing awareness to document business processes both within specific notations like BPMN or certain business process models, that is, to increase the standardization of  ‘how we do BPM’.

Within certain sectors where amount of transactions and customer operations are high, or where risk of deviations to expected handling may be of high severity like health or safety, the imperative of BPM is much higher! This is to secure the constant focus on better quality, fewer failures, and higher efficiency. This is typically what is driven by standardization programs, quality management etc.

Standards like ISO-900x clearly has a focus on quality and continuous improvement promoting an approach to BPM. As such BPMN is not required, even though it may be an enabling easy choice.

Provided an enterprise has reached a foundational understanding of what they do, and how they do things, they are typically able to progress to a higher degree of maturity. We see many organizations still struggle at a very low maturity level, where simply to ask for ‘what business processes do we have?’ or ‘what is the characteristics?’ will provide empty looks or smiles, rather than answers.

This is typically where BPMN as notation, collaboration tools like Signavio, and an architecture approach should be introduced. if not, we face the alternative that organizations may start and “end” their journey into BPM very promptly,  e.g.

  • If you start to document all processes of an enterprise from wall-to-wall ‘without proper tooling’ or ‘with tool but without approach’. This will be as to boil the ocean! If you ask people to document their processes, the risk of losing interest in the outcome may dry out much ahead of the project timeline.
  • If you start without proper tooling and proven approach, but prefer to start cheap and simple with no advisory, free tools or heavy-client tools, the chance of getting the enterprise to contribute or value the outcome is low.
  • If you don’t pass the simple levels of browsing processes, visualizing processes, linking it to most relevant meta-data and use-cases, the value of such an initiative will typically not pay-off. It is like climbing a summit taking only the first steps.

However, if you manage to seek advice and find a solution path to the introduction to business processes and related capabilities, this can turn into strategic planning with focus on tight alignment to management needs. This is how BPM becomes actionable and relevant for the digital transformation. This is what provides the foundation for more advanced use-cases, often referred to as process intelligence (PI):

Business process intelligence (PI) in short is a discipline for an enterprise to use the BPM knowledge to provide more accurate or real-time information of the business processes and its related task to increase transparency and decision support to what tasks exist, who does the work, how long does it take and what is the cost or time of bottlenecks.

The use-case of PI is clearly more actionable – clearly more related to management and risk handling. PI is how to analysee more complex dependencies or suggest improvements on cost and simulated insight. This has to be integrated with Information Management (IM) systems where analytics, dashboards and related master-data are managed, like the MooD digital platform. Such information can then be used for the refining of processes.

Strategy execution and predictive analysis as part of digital twins are clearly linked to enterprise architecture and planning where future scenarios can be analyzed and decided ahead of project implementations. Information management becomes the intersection of business process intelligence and digital planning.

If you are interested to know more, seek advice with us to improve your process intelligence.

We help to align long-term planning with short-term planning, which is an ongoing process – and a digital process of information management. Long-live the digital planning. If you have questions, please make contact. We are a consulting house with senior profiles and business solutions; we provide deep expertise in digital planning, digital governance and process automation. We power your digital mood!


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Manage the bill of IT as a service

Category:EA,Services Tags : 

While some stakeholders focus on outcomes of IT and how to deliver strategic planning to innovate new business models, there is also the ‘other’ operational perspective: the large mundane of existing IT-related processing which often needs ‘just to continue’. For that second perspective it is of interest to increase the transparency and decision measurability: how can you support the business operations in a more efficient way?

Even today in most organisations, the cost of supporting the business operations is the major cost pool within IT. And to make the bill of IT cheaper and more transparent, it does require some standardisation and framework. While it is harder to compare new strategic stuff, the maturity of financial IT spend models like TBM has matured to provide sound comparable measures of the bill of IT. But what is the ‘bill of IT’? Reflect a little over questions like:

  • What is the border of IT? (if IT is being used outside of the IT department, which is likely what happens most places) – then what share is the bill of IT?
  • Where does the cost of IT stop, and when is it cost of another department, cost of another project or cost that we don’t calculate?
  • What does cost mean to talk ‘bill of IT’ when we pay upfront, but depreciate over many years?
  • What about digitalisation and disruption catalysed by new IT and technologies – where does this fit into the ‘bill of IT’?

These questions are all relevant and easily solved when TBM becomes an instantiated process with transparency to stakeholders. It is not only about a tool, but typical a service provided enabling managers to see the inside of IT spend leading to decision makers getting meta-data and facts to rely on when discussing where to cut and where to invest more.

A over the last years, there has become almost a cross-standard to the taxonomy of how to deal with this. The answer is moving towards an open standard called ‘TBM’ where TBM stands for Technology Business Model. There are hundreds of organisations that now move into the three-layered structure of the TBM to get a comparable measure of the bill of IT.

The TBM concept is not new; Large accounting companies worked with the practice years before the TBM Council started, but the standardisation, the scale and the maturity of digital platforms offering the bill of IT is ramping up. The TBM perspectives of the bill of IT provides a clear view on IT spend, offering a model to get transparency to unit cost and cost drivers, consumption and performance – helping CIOs, CTOs and CFOs to get aligned views of where to cut cost and where to invest more.

Who are the stakeholders of TBM and the transparency of the bill of IT?

‘Many’ is the simple answer. Just to touch a few:

  1. Managers in Business Operations: Who can finally get a fact-based overview of cost pools, contracts, systems that aggregate to the spend of running the IT within the business operations.
  2. DevOps: Application owners who can better understand the application cost, quality and value. Help to decide future spend profiles.
  3. Service Owners: What is the cost of certain infrastructure components such as servers and software, supplier by supplier, and how to estimate end-of-life cost.
  4. CIOs and CTOs: People who are asked to invest in the future and cut cost on operations. Where to look for the savings?
  5. Business Relationship Managers: Helping the business to get more value to the business planning, what is the priorities to take.

What is the process of the TBM when implemented?

The TBM is based on single-loop learning of implementing an annual learning cycle where IT Spend is aggregated from managed architecture meta-data, stripped into pools, and aggregated with the IT landscape as systems and services, before aggregated to business capabilities or Business Units.

We typically advocate to master the meta-data not just to crunch numbers without clear ownership. It typically implies TBM to be solved by finance people and enterprise architecture teams to unite the task of managing the overview, often solved by information management tools like MooD or similar.

The integrations between an information management tool like MooD and a financial system like SAP or similar is required. The MooD system will then manage the collaboration with end-users, IT managers, service managers helping to get meta-data correct. Then the SAP or similar financial system will provide the cost centers, the daily bookings, the different accounts. However, if no solution is in place, bookings often follow financial account numbers, where as the mapping to IT is typically done within the architecture system.

Once a solution is configured and set alive, the budget cycle will start as an ongoing process, relying on the master data from the information management system, typically, it is based on last year’s consumption providing input to the budgets and forecast numbers. The TBM is the model or taxonomy of this data crunching.

 

What is the basic concept of TBM?

Irrespective of the digital platform, the bill of IT is simply structured into three layers, like almost three different architecture layers:

  1. Business layer: To describe the business capabilities and value chain of the technology supported IT spend. This should provide an enterprise perspective of the business and future looking cost perspective. The logical grouping and allocation of cost should be mapped to business applications or business initiatives – using the language of the business.
  2. IT Ops layer: To describe IT products and IT towers of IT assets which is technology groupings of units and unit cost within functions. As evolving the solution, then also IT Dev as part of the layer.
  3. Financial layer: Describing services procured in some currency, by terms, depreciations, cost, to understand cash versus cost perspectives of the agreed bills.

The benefit of the TBM model is that it translates between the layers. Solutions typically can provide the what-drives-what view between the different perspectives, typically build on some degree of allocations or apportions, handshakes and cost agreement splits. However, without the assumptions and structures of TBM, no-one will be able to communicate clearly what the cost of a project or a service really is.

How to get started with TBM?

If you are interested in getting a clear view of the Bill of IT, this is something that is hard to solve without technology and advice. Try to outline the end process; then start with the  information management to establish the digital governance. We have seen too many project implementations that suffer from not aligning the governance early enough, creating poor data and too restrictive assumptions. This typically happens when financial tools are introduced without focus on digital governance and data quality. So to succeed you need to form a project charter with enterprise architecture and financial managers involved. A transparent view of IT should include the above layers:

If you are interested in knowing more about TBM and cost models, please seek advice of how to implement this on a modern digital platform.

We help to align long-term planning with short-term planning, which is an ongoing process – and a digital process of information management. Long-live the digital planning. If you have questions, please make contact. We are a consulting house with senior profiles and business solutions; we provide deep expertise in digital planning, digital governance and process automation. We power your digital mood!


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More Planning, Fewer Projects!

Category:EA,UK Blog Tags : 

 

Recently presented at conference the current trends of  “strategy execution”; how to make strategy work! One of the simple observations is that terms may sometimes be not too well defined, like do people actually differentiate between  “strategy formulation” (what is the best strategy?) versus “strategy execution” (what is the best implementation of it?).   Among the key take-aways we have taken the following three ones for this blog post:

Strategy execution needs to move into behavior. We may choose another word, but to make an organization empowered to absorb a new strategy, it is crucial that such strategy is broken down into themes, elements and behavior: “What can I do differently when I go to work?”. Most people like to contribute to the bigger picture, so it is important that strategies are not always broken into programs, projects and tasks! That may work for closed-ended initiatives. But for open-ended strategies, it should be broken down to themes, elements and behavior. This is where strategy meets culture. Projects may be part of a strategy, but the human element is often much more important for the long-term change. Strategy execution at heart is about changing behavior. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, as said by Peter Drucker. So only by changing the culture, creating target behavior will it be possible to change the culture and succeed with larger changes.

Strategy should be less PowerPoints. The challenge is that when PowerPoints are seen as “plans”, then the strategy becomes quite static, not empowered to the many, and not iterated with messaging and experiments to work well. A successful strategy execution needs to leave the PowerPoint phase and move into a connected insight where the future best-practice is established around the future offerings and desired objectives. Leaving a PowerPoint also means it is possible to make insight and alive strategies that track changes and initiatives. This is where information modelling and scenario planning is much more relevant technologies than project tools. Projects may be part of strategy, but the key focus should be on the value creation and outcomes, not so much on projects and their performance.

Context is king. Even the best execution will not be able to ignore the fact that most people are busy as they go to work. Only by working with behavior and context, it is possible to provide the environment for people to contribute to the change. We are often impacted by the situation, by the way context is presented. Hence, if the objective and rational plans do not take into consideration the irrational and human behavior, the business of people in daily work-life,  then the plans will often be useless, whereas the planning and insight to experiments  will be much more supportive  to fulfill the change.

And while strategy planning becomes a living estate, the pendulum swings back to central knowledge, democratized input, for all the dots that need to be connected in a larger enterprise as the execution is empowered. This is where information management is key to support the ongoing iterations and impact.

We often advocate that for companies who are interested in big change, they should start to map out the themes and choose strategy elements of the inner game, outer game or customer focused theme.

One may see the digitization as a pre-burner or enabler for the digital transformation. With digitization we see the consistent paradigm of electrifying the processes to obtain better processes. This is clearly a playground on its own, where we can help you to get transparency to business processes, optimize the processes and secure leaner and more efficient business operations. This theme will keep the paradigm of the current business operations and trim it.

This also means, that digitization is disjoint from the digital transformation where elements like disruption, IoT and AI  are considered. Working with new models, new blueprints, there is quite another risk, and also a larger need to use scenario-based planning.  Long-live the planning that supports models such as digital twins. This is where we can guide you!

We help to align long-term planning with short-term planning, which is an ongoing process – and a digital process of information management. Long-live the digital planning. If you have questions, please make contact. We are a consulting house with senior profiles and business solutions; we provide deep expertise in digital planning, digital governance and process automation. We power your digital mood!


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Digital governance & agility – getting it right this time!

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According to both Gartner & Mckinsey that statistics state more than 75% of the agility and digital transformation projects fail. Going through the details, it is also noticed that many still believe these transformation programs could be solved by applying EA tooling or BI tooling. However, these technologies are quite different in philosophy, and there are certain shortcomings and limitations of using using this type of tecnique to solver such programs:

  1. The BI “approach” is typically led by financial people and with a reporting perspective; nothing wrong with this, but it is just very different from the agenda of providing large change, interactions and planning. If you try to fry using a pot rather than a pan, it will take longer, and with a lower chance of success.
  2. However, what about the magic quadrant of EA Tools then? Quoting one of our customers, “EA Tools are like lemons, sour and very hard to eat on their own” … The magic quadrant seem populated with tools that have a very narrow view of enlightening the architect herself/himself that puts effort into modelling. How can that in any way help the corporate agility?

Agility is the ability to change direction at higher pace, it is not about the speed! For a company to be agile, it needs to provide a foundation where people share an understanding of change, and eventually, share the interest to change course when needed. This is partly culture, partly getting people to buy into to the strategy, often helped by a digital platform to help building a digital governance of managing the business processes, systems, and offerings.

“Agility is the ability to change direction at higher pace, it is not about the speed!”

As humans we encourage people to be proactive, thinking, questioning, – however – it also means if we don’t all buy into the strategy or direction, we will act differently as individuals. For a company to succeed to change course at a higher pace, we need to promote the idea and federate the updates –  and every day! Managing the agility is about carrying out many small steps where people can relate and buy into the updates of helping the bigger enterprise with transparency and regular feedback.

So almost paradoxically, what agility means at a corporate perspective is that we need the shared value of helping each other to federate updates and insight to make a company agile, by this, removing some of the individual freedom to avoid new ad-hoc ways of doing stuff. This is a very different perspective than to allow a few architects to analyse and build models on their own. Agility is about getting to the digital platform where decisions and changes can be made faster, with lower risk and based on federated input; otherwise the platform is just for architects, and then you can have a look in the magic quadrant: how to fail yet another time…

Now, as an example… an old one: “What is an application?”. As simple as the question is, who is interested in the answer? Why do we need the answer? How would we as a company ever get to the answer?

To answer it partially, we would advise you to take the enterprise perspective, that if users and people of the organisation cannot see the “calculation” and updates of what we believe is an application, you will never get to more than a point-tool perspective, so in an agile context, you will fail. If your approach is to model it for the architects, using a tool only the architects can handle, please look for the bin!

Back to the former question, applications can only be of relevance if they relate to the processes, the inner game or outer game of the business planning.

  1. If in context of the outer game, it is relevant to carve out what to shut down, what to procure to deliver the new business model – this is the sweet spot of corporate agility where the business model is transformed into a new form.
  2. If the inner game, then we talk efficiency or changes to way of working, then operational efficiency and processes are the sweet spot where business is being digitized.

If you ask in your organisation, the business leaders might say we have a few systems, if you ask the IT managers, they may say many processes, so many applications, and if you meet people from IT Operations, they have their own definition, and they say approximately 20 per device. To solve such a simple question with a modelling tool will not succeed. The entire wrapping of use-case, interaction and planning is required, and it is often motivated by having a label on that wrapping called “agility”, where the benefit of classic EA tools and BI technology seem limited.

The technology required to build the digital platform for improving the agility requires a flexible model, that can be changed again and again over time. It also requires people to use the outcome, daily, every day by loads of people to get the metadata correct. And it needs to look like the corporate web portal with colours, fonts, etc. to get the attractiveness that people buy into.

If you are in doubt on how to build a digital platform in order to succeed with the digital governance and agility, try to look at the organisational usage, then identity the interactions and flexibility. Try to avoid pre-built one-size-fits-all solutions, we mostly see that the can demonstrate value only on the first mile. With the right collaboration, each employee or team is accountable for their own part, they like to contribute to the bigger picture, and the management can avoid attachments and PowerPoints. This is what digital governance is all about.

In practice, this also means the digital platform will be a combination of human input, and online data like CMDB data (Cherwell, Service Now, etc.), PMO data (Project Server integration, or similar), people data (AD or HR data), finance data (SAP, etc.). A modern digital platform is where decisions and agility moves can be made from – it pulls the data into the single source of connected insight.

We help to align long-term planning with short-term planning, which is an ongoing process – and a digital process of information management. Long-live the digital planning. If you have questions, please make contact. We are a consulting house with senior profiles and business solutions; we provide deep expertise in digital planning, digital governance and process automation. We power your digital mood!


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The value of living services

Category:Services,UK Blog Tags : 

For years we have seen the many implementations of service catalogs, hardly used and hardly understood by others than by those who created it. The challenge seems to be they have been dead architecture – a conceptual thinking for the few – not a connected insight for the business where they see every month e.g. the ‘bill of IT’. The future of services is all about connecting information to the living set of services so that it becomes relevant for business and may assists in the modernization of the digital business model as part of winning the outer game and optimising the inner game.

Working with knowledge sharing and change planning, we often see that many of the same words are used for different meanings. That calls for the information architects to define what do we really mean with this or that?  – and what connects to what?

As there are many trends in the market, such as cloud, insight, as-a-service, we start to see the patterns of ‘services’ rather than ‘assets’ that come and go, much in the same way as shops open and close, employees are hired and retire.

Managing the complexity of a large organisation, that wants to become digital, and with digital to provide more of the revenue from digital services, there is a shift towards making transformation programs that will do more of the digital stuff, that will do more of digital payments, digital patient journals, digital enabling of whatever type of business. Most of this change puts focus to the future way of working together, the future best practice – the next insight.

Working with the future services across the enterprise, we see a need to master all the enterprise services in a connected way as part of a living architecture. If you happen to be a financial institution or large manufacturer, you will typically have loads of assets, that in limited period will be in a competition with new services that are designed to be more digital or unified. That is, some of the older assets should retire, or we need to understand how to enable them or live with them despite they are legacy. The traditional asset catalog needs an overhaul to be service oriented – and if you work the way-up from the stack, chances are high that you will never complete.

So how to start the enabling of all the enterprise services? If we want to make it living – you need to focus on the automation of the updates of the data that drives the change of the future. This is about people, digital governance and technology to make it stick. We need to put focus to the user experience, to the persona. A typical question is the following, ‘what revenue does your services bring?’

  • If you cannot tie revenue or satisfaction metrics to a service, then it may not be an “end-service” – and you should rework the service definitions accordingly.
  • However, if it is an end-service, you can start planning using a digital twin.

Another perspective will be to differentiate between internal offerings versus external services, which then may eventually lead to another view of your IT. Start experimenting and iterating, and you will find your “services”.

We help to align long-term planning with short-term planning, which is an ongoing process – and a digital process of information management. Long-live the digital planning. If you have questions, please make contact. We are a consulting house with senior profiles and business solutions; we provide deep expertise in digital planning, digital governance and process automation. We power your digital mood!


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Living architecture – MDM made alive!

Category:EA,UK Blog Tags : 

We see an emerging interest to manage the information management and meta-data of large organisations, simply to improve the common understanding of what is what, and who can do what with what information. The value of such an overview will inevitably be that organisations become better to align processes on more structured data earning corporate agility. It also helps the strategy to execution as the long-term planning becomes tighter aligned to the current way of doing stuff. It is easy to scratch a target picture on a white-board and call it “strategy”, but to make it actionable is a different exercise where people need to understand what ties into what, and who should be changing what stuff.

To pass that bridge, or to close that gap, the architecture information needs to be alive, connecting the moving parts of the enterprise (operations) also with some of the more static information, that hardly change year-on-year. This is what we refer to as a living architecture, or simply enterprise information management, which at heart is what can make master data management an alive discipline (MDM).

What is the alternative to this?

“Imagine you worked within architecture producing piles of documents – documents which are structured in a document container (if we are lucky), poorly connected (meaning they are typically not, each document is an entity of its own) and where the likelihood of people to read it declines for every month it has situated in the document container. If it is really bad, the manager with the longest seniority and largest inbox has the power to retrieve email attachments to share his or her view on the (‘dead’) architecture. It happens a lot of places. Managers leave, projects complete, and with this the architecture silently dies”. — dead architecture

So how to make the architecture alive?

“Think of the contents as information and try to re-use that information across your strategies, services and improvements form a pattern of what ties into what – a pattern of a ‘living architecture’ where SharePoint, PowerPoints,  email etc. do not provide the full picture, but where the elements and records from this documentation, is tightly interconnected, and that PowerPoints and Word-documents may be produced for reading and reporting purposes, but not as the source of data. This creates a bigger picture that is continuously updated. This is the place where model-driven documents (MDD) goes in hand with master-data-management (MDM) techniques”. — new architecture

 

What is a living architecture?
A Living Architecture is not dead – it is something that still breathes, as opposed to static and dead architectures that once they were built, they never received more updates. Typically, this is what happens to project architectures and other process optimization projects where piles of academic thoughts are left in documents – isolated, left alone, or maybe as properties in a legacy repository.

 

Why do we need a living architecture?
Because pace of change is increasing, and management calls for better ways to get insight to data and relationships, such as which product is the most important one? Which services should we plan to use coming years? Where are the candidates for take-out? Such analysis should not be project deliverables, but be part of an ongoing process where data may be connected and viewed in new ways to support few-clicks to better fact-based decision support. By revitalize the architectural information you can move the data governance to be automated and part of the strategic analytics agenda.

 

Is the strategic agenda related to architecture?
Many people have different perspectives to what-is-what and what-connects-to-what. The only way to get the larger organisation to view this in the same way is to share actively the interpretations and definitions to iteratively get consensus to what an enterprise mean by this or that. This is not something that is thought-up in the architecture office as an ivory-tower exercise. Only by federating data and expressions you will get to the collaboration of the enterprise to view things in the same way, then to realize that many of the ‘things’ mean different to different stakeholders. A living architecture serves the need to embrace it all, connect it all, and structure the information with updates and relationships to make it relevant for as many people in the business as possible. Enterprise Architecture is the practice to master this across the entire business – so whoever gets a question like ‘what projects do we have’ or ‘what services do we offer’ or ‘what investments do we plan next year’ can provide updated and meaningful answers – irrespectively of who he or she is. If you relate this to services, the SOA expert and the infrastructure guys will likely get different views and perspectives – but it will relate to much of the same information. As people come and go, processes change with new mergers and acquisitions, innovations in the pace that business is buying new stuff, there are things that need to be updated and live after the projects are closed, this is the living architectural information that must be managed to provide a common platform for living artefacts. We also see an increasing interest to relate this to external vendors and external services, simply to provide a connected picture of what offerings the company with partners is able to provide, see also how to enable SIAM.

 

Does this mean there is only one truth?
It means that information should be mastered where they are master best – and the Enterprise Architecture should be able to connect and structure information online so that there always is the overall system for providing the connected insight. Will there be stored information only once, typically yes, however, the perspectives and views might be different, so that the answer may look different for different uses/use-cases. If you work with infrastructure, your interest in services might be a different perspective, then if you are developer working with SOA services, and yet again different from the business analyst’s that is planning the services in the market for next season.  A living architecture is about the perspectives are different – so that different people will see different things – from whatever they find interesting! It’s not about making many large documents with ‘dead’ artefacts or huge process diagrams only the designer can understand!

A living architecture is about connecting the many types of data that are continuously changing at different frequencies in an organization and relate to each other. A good architecture description exhibit and collaborate with all stakeholders so that they can all see their perspective. A living architecture is the vibrant mean to succeed in the digital transformation. It provides the living links between the data. It may be useful for projects, but it may also be a subset to carry-on after projects are completed. The living architecture creates insight by building bridges between concepts and the many data in the real-world. And does it relate to governance? It certainly does, as we need to know who updates what from where. This is why a living architecture often is related to the digital governance offered by the MooD solutions.

There are plenty of frameworks that supports this. Open Group includes e.g.  IT4IT working with value stream, and descriptions of how to enable the business with plan, build, run and subscriptions.

If you like architecture – and enterprise architecture in particular, then make sure you deliver to people in the business constantly updated views of the estate. Make sure you embrace the terms and definitions to make it relevant and urgent for the users. Don’t waste your energy of detailed process diagramming that no managers will understand, but let it supplement where needed and focus on master the living updates of information that enables a live digital platform – and a prerequisite for creating successful transformation.

We power your digital mood!


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Digital – Outer Game or Inner Game?

Category:Uncategorized Tags : 

We all want a place in the digital market, we all have strategies and discussions of how to win the battle. However, as part of this dialog, we often see different levels of abstraction to words such as ‘digital’, ‘AI’, ‘transformation’… We may point to the definition of  ‘digital transformation’ and ‘digitization’, however, in this article, we rather structure a few of the terms to provide a more transparent dialog to what does it mean to have a place in the digital market.

The two terms  ‘digital transformation’ and ‘digitizationstrictly are very different, but they are  both part of the digital agenda. Where the digital transformation at the heart is about changing form and paradigm, the other one is to optimize while keeping the paradigm. So to have better discussions about internal or external forces, of effectiveness and efficiency in the digital age, we advocate to structure the digital dialogue using:

–          Games

–          Themes

–          Elements

With a decomposition of a strategy discussion we start to obtain the common vocabulary for some of the apple-to-apple discussions of what we want to achieve as part of the digital agenda. The reason be that with our definition of Games, Themes and Elements we can start to have much more meaningful conversations to what does it mean to become ‘customer centric’ or make ‘a successful disruptive customer journey’…

The purpose of this is two-fold:

  1. to structure the dialog so we can compare apple-to-apple in the discussions and needs of using words like disruption, digital, etc.
  2. and second, to be able to break down the dialog to another level, where we can support the behavioral change of the strategy execution.

To increase the chances of winning a strategy, we need the construct of Themes and Elements which can be part of a behavioral change – and be made actionable daily.

So how to make a strategy successful? Of course, the content is part of it, which might be assisted by better digital planning or Digital Twins; however, even without the bullet proof planning, the strategy still needs to leave the glossy PowerPoint and become actionable for more people!

A successful strategy cannot survive successfully with high-level statements such as “we need more levers”, “digital customer satisfaction”, “larger on business value”, etc. For two reasons, it doesn’t answer the question of how and it doesn’t make it actionable for anyone within the organization. Having said this, when we help large companies, it is very often in that field of executing the strategy by encouraging more people to do what is actionable for them; one may argue it is less about the strategy, and more about getting to the point, where people can contribute to the strategy. This is how you make sustainable change.

To make a strategy executable, we need to de-compose it into Games, Themes and Elements, and then further into the ‘daily behavior’. If things become part of daily behavior, we start collectively to move. In other words, in order to succeed with the strategy execution, we need the decomposition that relates to daily behavior.

We have identified currently two håndful of  digital elements, three digital themes, and two games, that currently seem to address most of the strategy-to-execution assignments we meet.

The two games represent the Outer Game and the Inner Game of an organization. These terms are re-used from leadership schools. These two games represent two different perspectives that will supplement or compete. The Outer Games is by definition the external perspective of ‘what is possible’. The Inner Game has a focus on the existing organization and competencies, hence ‘what can we do better’.

Digital Transformation by its definition is part of the Outer Game – how to design the new business model. The digitization is by its definition much closer to the Inner Game of how to do things more efficient – without changing our fundamental customer base, culture or anything touchy…

Now, the two games are related like strategy to culture, like Yin to Yang, like innovation to operations. They cannot live without each other, but they also represent opposite purposes. The purpose of the Outer Game is to follow principles of the Porter school, how to create a future into the market. As opposed to this, the Inner Game focuses on what can we operate, what can we do better, to fit with our capacity, our skills our collective win.

Now, having the two games defined, we see at least three digital themes that need to be addressed to make a successful change. We advocate to limit the themes to not more than these three Themes:

  1. [inventing] New Business Models
  2. [Changing] Customer Experience
  3. [Improving] Process Excellence

Then the digital elements are groupings within the Themes that are simpler to make actionable and behavioral. And to succeed with strategy to execution, we need to decompose into elements and make planning to support the digital transformation.

There is more research on the internet, where it is stipulated that moving forward with digital transformation, the best companies combine the [inventing] New Business Models with the Outer Game, simply to combine digital activity with strong leadership to turn technology into transformation then to future revenue streams. Other companies are less market focused, typically public service sector companies, which will then prioritize the Inner Game  on [Improving] Process Excellence. Unless protected by regulations, borders or legal fence, companies that are more mature will eventually outperform those that are not. So, if you want to lead the digital change, choose the Game, Theme and digital elements that meet your need.

We help to align long-term planning with short-term planning, which is an ongoing process – and a digital process of information management. Long-live the digital planning. If you have questions, please make contact. We are a consulting house with senior profiles and business solutions; we provide deep expertise in digital planning, digital governance and process automation. We power your digital mood!