Category Archives: governance

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Digital Governance, fuel for the digital planning

Category:EA,governance,strategy

In our post of how to succeed with digital planning, we stressed the importance of unleashing the power of Enterprise Architecture (EA) to enable the discipline to work with long-term strategic actions without being detailed of how to implement activities. This also covers the fundamentals for delivering a successful transformation to make your company  digital.

It is also in this post we referenced the ubiquitous purpose of planning is not to complete, but to become aware and prepare. For most organisations the corporate agility is more important than speed in the “long run”, even though they both are desirable properties, and speed often wins in the “shorter run”. So in the short run there is the perpetual focus on delivering more of the ‘same’ where in the long run, it may be a different service or offering that will provide the best solution to the market. So planning has a value in understanding and testing as opposed to project portfolio management and operations where focus is on completing. As to recall the famous quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower;

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

The management focus on “planning” rather than “plans” call for corporate consensus to that is important, and what if scenarios can swiftly be implemented without running a new project. This is also where agility works best with a digital governance that can quickly help management to understand the implications as they decide to move into a new course. Unfortunately, we often talk to people who believe that strategy is “just” a set of plans that “just” need to be implemented. While nothing will ever work if not implemented, the challenge with strategy is often that the competitors, the market, sales, and the technology innovations change the premises so fast that to succeed the projects you need to change scope to meet a new impact and outcome.It somehow calls for three fundamentals at the same time

  1. shorter development cycles and agile methodologies to implement this
  2. more focus on Enterprise Architecture and Business Architecture to faster understand the impact of changes and on changes – making architecture a living discipline
  3. more digital planning, as to message differently and more swiftly what is new course of action.

To succeed it requires onboarding of a large number of employees of your company, not a department, but often more a business unit or the entire company. This is not solved by projects, tools or departments in isolation; this is best solved by having a clear responsibility structure to work with changes, and to know who will take of whatever impact. This we make alive in a digital portal to collaboration and drive common decision-support. Sustaining the momentum of the transformation is critical to the company’s success. To deal with this problem, sustaining interventions by governance decisions will become essential to help you keep track of the direction of your common aim. Digital transformation should be a coordinated response by a broad set of stakeholders – also at board level.

What is Digital Planning as opposed to digital governance?

We see Digital Governance in our solutions as something that is both ‘digital’ and ‘governance’. Governance as in “Who does what approved by whom” and Digital meaning not in word, and not in Excel, but as clickable meta-data shared for everyone within an organisation”. In other words, decisions should be made digital, not by emails and attachments. The organization will strive to become transparent and re-using data towards a common vision.

We see “Digital Planning” as the next level of planning to make long-term strategic digital actions without being detailed of how to implement activities.
Focus is on value-creation and corporate agility to become aware and be prepared. 

The objective of planning is to make the right set of reductions, rejections, acquisitions and investments. This has the entire focus on maximising the business value, not on delivering on-time, which is a set of derived set of activities. We advocate to implement Digital Governance and Digital Planning in every solution we build to move faster as a company and to speed up the corporate agility – be aware these two things are no the same, but both are desirable features. To establish the right digital governance is critical since it acts as the rudder to steer your digital initiatives in the right direction and pace. If you spend too much time on implementing the wrong set of initiatives you may end up in the hamster wheel, whereas if with focus on planning, digital planning, the solution teams are aligned, the agile release trains are aligned, and top executives can manage resources and direction rather than to obtain useless figures of backlogs. See also the post of getting value from business planning with agile development.

What role does Digital Planning play in digital transformation?

We refer to another post for digital transformation.  And make a process around the digital transformation, we often advocate a classic stage gate approach where

  1. an Initiative Phase secures the planning piece of what initiatives do we have, either as ideas, proposed ones, and very likely ones. Based on hard prioritisation metrics, some of these are selected for the next phase:
  2. a Project Performance Phase that implements the projects, but all the time with an eye for the value delivery, the risk of not completing, the risk of we exit, and the ability implement on time and budget, which will then typically lead to:
  3. a Solutions Management Phase where services and applications build as solutions are maintained and innovated to continue to deliver value to the business.

It is pivotal that this stage gate approach can be managed digitally, with digital ownership, and with the ability quickly to support new what-if decisions. With a strong governance in the meaning of no bureaucracy and digital input, you can much faster foster informed strategic decisions that are based on solid architectural insights.
Our approach to digital governance follows three guidelines:

  1.  Establish a lean set of approval flows and business rules.
  2. Encourage digital interaction and abandon emails, attachments and SharePoint.
  3. Foster and moderate innovation by open participation, ideally by having everyone being able to share and contribute to the portal.

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 – 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. We help to align long-term planning with short-term planning, which is an ongoing architectural 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!