Category Archives: strategy

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Living architecture – the new approach to become data-driven?

Category:EA,governance,strategy Tags : 

We often advocate to turn architecture into governance, and to make it actionable, collaborative and shared! The objective of this change is to ensure all the good information is being used, not only by collectors and authors, but as the primary driver for business change and decision-support. When it works, enterprise architecture management (EAM) becomes succesful, architecture becomes ‘living architecture’, and organisations take another step up the ladder to become data-driven rather than Excel-born.

Maybe think of the alternative: Architecture for architects, notations and schematics only for the skilled people. That is not what we refer to as a succesful practice of EAM. Tools that require your audience to understand BPMN and UML and ArchiMate at the same time will never have a large audience, however, if you look at the magic quadrant, you will find loads of tools just for the purpose of this. While they may have a use-case in the small, the impact on a large organisation will be small. Architecture to have an impact and create outcomes should guide the information model and lead on what is make or break for future operations, what is the type of consolidation and changes we would like the organisation to do.

Since we years back started our journey towards living architecture, we have seen how it democratizes the updates of artefacts, how it brings large organisations to become more agile, simply with better processes and common insight to manoeuvre faster with changes in new regulations, strategies, and agile thinking. It is per se what makes a living architecture that it is being used, being adopted, and adapting to the planning processes.

What is the value for most users? They simply get better and more concise information to “what is what and how it ties up to other stuff”. This is hard to solve in isolation, hard to solve in SharePoint and Excel if you operate at large scale across a large organisation. While SharePoint and Excel are easy to use the hidden burden is siloes and attachments, but no common enterprise information model. The benefit of an EAM practice with living architecture is proper management of the information model to support meta-data across large organisations improving 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 to work with roadmaps, future scenario etc. While it is easy to scratch a target picture on a white-board and call it “strategy”, it is a different discipline to make people buy into it, support it, and ensure that data and effort are done to make it happening.

To pass that bridge to better data for strategy, faster reactions to change, the architectural information must be alive and the 3C’s; current, correct, and concise. Architecture is not an end in itself, governance may be the fuelling to it, but the value to gain comes from corporate agility and better decision-making as architecture information connecting the moving parts of the enterprise (operations) also with some of the more static information to provide insight for the next  years. This is what we refer to as a living architecture.

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), often as loose-end drawings (no common definitions used across larger areas of the organisation),  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, products, services, and technologies 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.

You may contact us for our solution, next-insight, to read more.
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Business Outcome-Driven Planning

Category:EA,strategy

Research has recently provided focus to the practice of Business Outcome-Driven Planning. Instead of having focus on input-output that constantly bears the risk of too much output when market has changed, it is more and more imperative to put the focus on where the market and organisation are heading.

 

Many organisations struggle to get the plans and backlogs defined to secure the speed of change to match the requirements for business transformation. To enable faster transformation, there is a shift to more open-ended agile methods, like SAFE, targeting the entire enterprise to develop with focus on market demands. This brings us closer to what is often referred-to as “EA 3.0” where EA is short for enterprise architecture in the era of agile self-organised teams within a larger contextual and value-driven planning.

 

The practice of describing the impact and outcome rather than input and output is key for EA 3.0, as it provides a business outcome-driven planning where initiatives and concepts are evaluated way before they are formulated as projects for execution. As many organisations find it difficult to balance these decision-making processes, it is important to seek advise of how to implement the governance to structure more around products and scaling the development capabilities.

 

Business outcome-driven planning works alongside capability-based planning. It pictures the business in a capability map, “what does the business do or what should it be doing”. With focus on outcomes, visuals and self-service it is possible to relate the different contextual layers such as strategy, business, information, application and technology to provide impact-driven views of change.

Please check out also the practice of next generation technologies.

 


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From pain to gain in service-orientation

Category:EA,strategy Tags : 

This week we ran into a dialog about the pace of service-orientation and its impact on processes. For those who are not aware of this term, service-orientation is the trend that allows customers to buy services rather than products with add-ons; and conceptually allow us to focus on the shift to consumerisation of subscription-based services, rather than products that may require maintenance, upgrades, add-ons etc.

To manage a successful transition into services, you need to establish a governance, see also how to establish a service portfolio. Now, as many technology companies (software as well as manufacturing companies) have a joined interest in providing a standardised set of services, they sometimes forget the dialog about “who is the customer?” – is it the customer journey of attracting new customers or the discipline to meet the service level to keep customers? Can we talk about customer-orientation or service-orientation without having the discussion of whether we want to focus on the primary operations or disrupting them?

We often say that “services” are what is delivered to an existing or future customer whereas “processes” are how you enable the services.

So in order to distinguish between the processes or new processes the level of detail required are actually not the same. In planning, less is more. In operations, we need to ensure all options are covered.
This brings us rapidly to the two simple terms that we need to balance in every service-orientation – the strategic choice between “fit” and “split” (Pascale, “Creating Organizational Advantage”):

  • The “fit” of processes focus on existing processes that can be digitalised and automated. This is the classic discipline of Business Process Modelling, Think of Total Quality Management, Six Sigma etc. These practices focus on making the business processes a better fit for the purpose of satisfying your customers, providing them with less pain and great services. However, as other services substitute older products and services (like subscribing to streaming services rather than buying a DVD player and DVD’s), there is despite the great service, constantly a drift towards a perception of some or more pain, eventually calling for the alternative.
  • The “split” of processes acts like the second bimodal model, having a constant focus on providing new processes distinct from the old ones! This is the focus to make new prospects rather than satisfying the existing ones. This is the classic discipline of Business Process Management. It brings focus to emergent technologies, cloud, sourcing and disruption. The proceess will start with aquiring or establishing the market capabilities, then the services, later the processes. This practice will evaluate what current services and processes that can be turned-off to implement new services taking advantage of technology shifts and grow the company. This is typically where we see exponential growth among the services that take-off. The focus is to hit the ground running with a no-pain level and great services from day one, leaving behind the old services with pain and legacy.

Now, if we go back to the dialog of the service-orientation, pace and processes, it is evident that you need to consider “fit” and “split” as different practices, even though they may be both part of the overall umbrella of methodologies called “process optimisation” and “process thinking”. The two practices use some of the same components, they just have opposite directions and pace!

If you are considering health and safety, client trials, transportation, money transfers, the “fit” is extremely important to document how you do things the right way, and you may improve your processes, optimizing them to secure health and operations. This requires many details to be aligned, documented so that every situation is covered, it may be the difference between another casualty or not. This works extremely well with the “fit” approach of process modelling, and this is also where BPM tools and process tools have their advantages. It is one may say, like Operations compared to Strategy & Architecture, where focus is on “running” rather than on “planning”.

However, if you are more focused on growing and attracting new customers, develop new services, acquire new capabilities, then the “split” is extremely important to analyse in terms of what could be done differently, what are the new emerging trends we could benefit from and what could we do to re-engineer what currently seems to be a pain in our services. This requires far fewer details and a better view of the impact “what-if” we could deliver something different, attracting many more customers. This works extremely well with the “split” approach of services impact where only a high-level process detail is enough, as it is the market and services that define the playground. This is the playground of planning solutions, like Strategy and Architecture compared to Operations, focus is on “strategy and planning” rather than on “running”.

So back to the pace – It doesn’t take long to picture high-level processes as supporting future services, what takes longer is to secure the service is right and enable this in the market. It does take long to picture detailed low-level process diagrams of supporting your existing services. So, if you plan to head one direction, but use the toolkit from the reverse direction, you will eventually fail. So, pace and direction are both important – it is the difference between biking one way or heading with the buss the other direction! This is not just a matter of getting the processes documented – the work might not be needed, and your project is at risk, if you apply the wrong practice.

Now, if we go back to the dialog of the service-orientation, pace and processes, it is evident that you need to consider the “fit” and “split” as different practices, even though they may be both part of the overall umbrella of methodologies called “process optimisation” and “process thinking”. The two practices use some of the same components, they just have opposite directions and pace.

And guess what, if you use the umbrella of “process optimisation” and “process thinking” – but apply only the “fit” perspective, you may run fast into the challenge of attracting management attention, as they often have a hard time understanding the problems you address by going deeper and deeper into details that are not relevant to address for the more business-led community with focus on attracting more revenue. The “fit” process community has been dense on methods and specifications and have spent lots of time arguing like a religion of how processes should be drawn, documented and shared, however, the “split” community has had a hard time finding interest, may even be called superficial, as they need less details to plan the future.

So one challenge that we often see in both practices is the talk about “customers” – but where one has attention to attracting some who are not customers, the other practice focus on existing customers not to leave the pen. And this goes also for services. The set of services are different if you want to attract new customers, as opposed to keeping existing customers. The “split” community will typically use an “outside-in” approach in getting attention and future, whereas the “fit” community is more focused on “did you like our service today?” (Picture below for reference).

 

Services in a competitive market will constantly have attention to the Customer Perception e.i. does he/she feel a gain by acquiring the new service whereas the organisation will constantly be focusing on delivering to a high service level and quality. These two factors are both to be considered through the lifecycle of a service:

  • The “Service Level” is an “inside-out” measure of your service performance, measured typically in monthly statistics on a scale from poor service to great service on a scale from 1 to 3, or a percentage of service level reached for existing customers. This will surface if you as a customer is getting the expected service (“ok”), or less (“frustrated”) or exceeding (“faith”).
  • The “Customer Perception” is typically an “outside-in” measure of your customer’s or future customers perception, measured typically in customers coming or leaving on a scale from pain to gain, where gain is the crowding effect of a good new service, whereas the pain represents a kind of despair, starting to scout for competitive services.

With the outside-in perspective, you take the strategic perspective with focus on incumbent players and services, which you might decide to invest in yourself. With the inside-out perspective, you focus on your current processes to optimise your service delivery for your customers. The art of the impossible is to balance these two practices, as to decide pace and direction.

Where in the Inside-out perspective, the weather is clear sunshine, as opposed to the future, where strategy also has to operate with current knowledge to tomorrows challenge. This is where the constant planning and scenario planning is key to enable corporate agility.

For instance, we currently see a shift to electric cars, and for a decade we have seen Tesla growing from zero to a leading (yet still small) player, unable to meet the demands, however, the buyers are despite long waiting lists more likely to say “nice” things in customer perception than traditional car producer’s customers. Tesla has managed to be a step forward in the outside-in perspective, however, the larger car manufacturers may easily adopt and adapt, and then comes a period where customers will focus on operations stability – and without a focus to the inside-out, even the most promising new product and service will fail.

We typically see a customer shift to new services that are cheaper and easier to consume, such as music as a service, car as a service, transport as a service – but for all of these new services, there is the caveat, that if the operations do not scale and meet operational excellence, they will run dry. And the opposite is also valid, without a constant scouting that takes advantage of new service models with emergent technologies, the operations will run dry for customers.

 

If you want to start a service-orientation of your business, please to do hesitate to make contact. We power your digital Mood!