Category Archives: enterprise architecture

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Digital Design and Enterprise Architecture – what is it?

Category:digital transformation,enterprise architecture,governance Tags : 

Enterprise Architecture to Design Digital – what is it?

Likely you will find as many answers as you will find people to ask, unfortunately, that is so. Maybe because the discipline is relatively “young”, or maybe as suggested by Martin v.d. Berg because practitioners and researchers put different meaning into the term; but likely also because it is seen as “supporting” rather than a “line” activity so the term “decision support” associates with it. Clearly, there are more interpretations to what it is.

If you smell the words, “Enterprise” and “Architecture”, you will likely ask yourself, what is an “enterprise”? and what is an enterprise architecture then? The term somehow makes it more theoretic, at the risk of sinking like captain Carlsen on his SS Enterprise, which in fact was his enterprise, a ship. In most cases, we can replace the word “enterprise” with “your entire business” or “your organisation with customers and market”, even though we would argue an enterprise could be a business unit or simply the entire or a subset of the business. In any case, business overall with an end-to-end perspective. “Architecture” on the other hand is about structure, how things are connected, what they are composed of, how they are used, how they look and are perceived. We often talk about good or bad architecture based on our experience, durability and interaction. In any case, everyone has a saying of this.

James Lapalme previously has argued, that Enterprise Architecture (EA) could be seen as one of three schools, either the Enterprise integrating, Enterprise IT architecting or Enterprice ecological adaption, where this post takes the proposition to put emphasize on the strategy to execution, marked more blue than the others; see Fig.

Enterprise Architecture is often expressed along-side strategy. That is, you may be manager for strategy & enterprise architecture as a combined title. It does give a clue, that enterprise architecture is about strategic thinking, about decision support with a focus end-to-end.

Enterprise architecture (EA) is a discipline for proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analysing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes.

Gartner

With such a definition, EA is the authority to lead enterprise responses by working with external disruptive forces, disruptive? This clearly brings EA into the strategic space working with future solutions to achieve vision and outcomes, if need be also with breaking structures and processes or even acquiring new offerings.

At the core, EA is about the bridging between where we currently are, and the future to achieve desired business vision and outcomes. Then this is the tricky stuff, how to help an organisation to transition successfully into the future? This is what EA practitioners refer to as transition architectures, small pieces of planning to provide strategy-to-execution. Often EA practitioners then put actions into roadmaps, so roadmaps are key for making influence more actionable.

Darwin put it slightly different in a different context with “survival of the fittest”, EA is about your “enterprise” survival, what planning do we collectively need to do to be “fittest” and succeed in the market. It is less about doing it, but to inform and encourage management to stay on-course using an enterprise perspective. With reference to J. Ross, we often refer to this as “digital design” (as opposed to many small solutions with individual designs), some would refer to this as enterprise design.

EA is decision-support and enterprise design; based on information and data (not only data). The more we can digitalise the creation of information from data, the closer we get to the core of EA, what to do with it. While Operations focus on today’s services to customers, EA is planning with the perspective of what services do we need in the future, and how to transform the organisation to make that happen. Strategy is sometimes about pace (do more, move faster), sometimes about the unforeseen changes (new competitor, disruptive forces) where market changes force a set of decisions to be made quickly to succeed in the future.

How to make such decisions? That is what EA is all about with frequent updates, collaboration, and enterprise governance – we talk about it as iterative and integrated as it connects tools and integrates business end-to-end. For IT and CI items it integrates with CMDB, around financials it integrates with Finance, and so on. EA is often staffed with senior people as it is a broad role that connects stuff from front-end to back-end of the organisation. It is about long-term business change enabled by collaboration and planning to deal with pace and disruptive forces. Building organisations around EA provides help you to achieve corporate agility to adapt faster to new external forces.

To staff a team to succeed with EA, you need to have more skills represented, see related blog. Finally, working with architecture services, please be aware that there are more architectural practices, please see picture.

Architecture roles – what roles exist?

The following drawing is a simple representation of typical architecture roles, where the Enterprise Architect is the broadest role. Architecture is more than one discipline: To manage detail is different from the enterprise perspective.  The various architecture roles are related, yet very different in skillsets required and target delivery.

The Infrastructure Architect has an important role in keeping IT Operations in mint condition – often tightly coupled to the IT Service Management (ITSM).

The Software Architect has a different role which puts focus on the development of an application that solves stakeholder needs. Such work must be detailed meeting all requirements through properly design, development, documentation, and testing.

The Solution Architect is often linked to project architecture with a focus on how projects get scoped to delivery with a perspective to make a design that is valid post project closure.

The Business Architect has a slightly different skillset – more focused on market and business analysis. This is very often connected to business management, business processes and the strategy development of a business area or future revenue stream.

The Data Architect has a more detailed focus on data management and bringing fresh data between systems to support information and business insights.

The Enterprise Architect seems to do somehow a little of all of that with a perspective to look more end-to-end, secure alignment to the overall corporate strategy and direction, closing the gap between why and how. Focus is often on knowledge sharing, collaboration, planning and compliance to ensure best patterns are selected and re-used towards strategy fulfilment.

We are in the business of helping you to provide successful business change to execute your strategy – reach out if you need advice how to build you architecture office.

 


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Constructing the “right” strategy team

Category:digital transformation,enterprise architecture,governance Tags : 

Strategy is about setting targets for the future, choosing the right direction based on insight to market and resources. Strategy leads to strategy execution, but strategy execution is about delivery, minimising risk and getting the organisation to deliver the strategic ambitions – something that requires people, process and technology to be involved.

Malcolm Gladwell has written “tipping point”, how to make strategy implementations to scale, see short reference here. It pictures the value of how few people can make a significant impact, something that is deeply desirable within digital transformation and strategy execution.

The “tipping point” in context of strategy execution and digital transformation  is that magic moment when a strategy-to-execution-portal like our low-code platform  as an idea or social behaviour within an enterprise crosses a threshold, and spreads like wildfire.

To succeed a strategy is not so much about the formulation  (although that has be sound as well), it is equally about getting to the tipping point where the stickiness and roll-out seems to spread like wildfire.

In the book Gladwell argues that fundamentally three key roles need to be present for any idea to transition into reality, and the same seems to be valid for strategy and architecture solutions, if not more roles. As we advocate to use a low-code platform for providing rapid responses, you also need the supporting team to encapsulate people, process and technology. But which team?

To win a strategy execution and pass the tipping point, you need to construct your digital team to accelerate the journey. We typically advise to look for at least the following four roles:

Practice Manager:
The practice manager is an IT Leader with knowledge of your organisation’s applications and processes and best-practices. The practice manager acts in many cases like the project manager or lead architect to communicate what is in and what is out of the next release, to keep a tight focus between next release and solving the best value steps first. Ideally this role relates closest to the connector-role listed by Gladwell.

Usability Coach:
The usability coach has focus on the detail within a release from an end-user perspective. When things go fast, testing of the front-end starts often ahead of the back-end. It is imperative that the changes and development done is provided with sufficient validation to ensure functionality and  a strong end-users experience. This improves quality of delivery and aligns with the pretotyping manifesto. The goal of pretotyping is to help you make sure that you are configuring the right stuff, before you complete it right.

Salesperson:
The salesperson is typically a senior profile on the border of the team. He fosters ideas for new development injecting stakeholder wishes into the future roadmap. With the low-code engine as the digital platform, see next-insight, he is aware he can produce new functionality faster and better than traditional tools, and in his/her daily dialog he communicates the roadmap and gets in return more value requests to the team.

The Maven:
The maker of low-code configuration to meet maximum re-usage and business outcomes. The maven is the cross-stack expert driving the development along-side the other roles. The alignment between practice manager and maven is critical to support what is easy and fast to accomplish as proactive responses to business challenges.

The coherency of the roles is key for a strong delivery of a low-code setup implementing strategy. Unlike tool-vendors who push conversions of data, conversion of processes proposing stiff tools to soft people – this team can put customer-centric solutions in place where the platform adapts to the use-case. A tool without a team is lost, team without a low-code digital platform is slow.

We advise a safe and fast implementation of your strategy with a low-code digital platform and joint digital team to accomplish the strategic objectives. The right thing to do now and in the future is to provide the stickiness and success of a team with a scalable platform, #next-insight.

#Interactive  #Collaborative #Connected