Recently I was asked to chime in on how to setup a global enterprise asset roadmap strategy. This was a fully loaded question and also a tricky one to answer. It is not an easy task as there is a number of forces at play and are extremely dynamic based on organizational culture, dynamics, structure and business objectives.
Lot of thoughts were communicated but I thought I would share my high level thoughts and considerations to keep in mind when developing an enterprise strategy. I am not going to go into the micro level detail here with templates and structures as this is an activity that is somewhat tailored to a specific customer and requires a lot of deliverables.
With an activity like this it is critical that you EA’s are pragmatic and focus on delivery as soon as possible to show results. The core principle that should be employed here should be:
“Think strategically, act tactically”
The majority of the challenges will not be technical in nature. But rather it will be primarily people oriented. This is not to say that the people are necessarily incompetent. It only means that the value proposition isn't always obvious to all parties and there will be some level of education and persuasion on the EA's part.
Some of these challenges include:
- Adoption – This factor accounts for the majority of the issues that you will face when driving out a strategy. For most enterprises there are a number of people based factors that include:
- Poor Perception - or lack of willingness to understand value proposition. There have been some great studies around this from Gartner and Forrester.
- Understanding or Training – Coupled with perception, this factor hinders adoption due to the lack of understanding on why this activity should be performed
- Incentive – Most employees in enterprises are not incented to do these activities. So if they are not incented, they will not do it. This does not always happen but can be used as a general rule of thumb.
- Information – Many of the challenges of doing a current to future state architecture is the lack of information to do so. This problem needs to be solved to effectively figure out where an organization should go. The point here is that the future is always in motion. I recommend iterative strategies to develop “Transition State Architectures”. These are architectures that lend themselves to a set of principles defined for where they want to take a solution of capability. By delivering in an iterative way they don’t boil the ocean and are able to course correct if needed.
- Tools – To be effective tools enterprises really need tools that empower the process and deliver critical information that empowers architects and developers.
- The challenges is that many of the EA tools are intrusive and require a great deal of training. They also often require users to learn how they do things that may or may not be aligned with how development in that enterprise has been done in the past.
- Most of these are proprietary even though they have plug-ins to extend
- These tools are also high cost which enterprises starting out EA practices struggle with
From a tooling perspective, it should support the first two challenges. We have one orchestration of technologies that aids in this called the Enterprise Architecture Toolkit. It by no means solves all these challenges but does provide a pragmatic way of addressing these areas by focusing on automating and enriching the solution architecture development process. As mentioned before on my blog, it is a solution accelerator for supporting the architecture process within mid to large size enterprises. The EATK includes both architecture guidance and supporting code base to run the toolkit.
The key scenarios support architectural strategy with the following scenarios:
- Describing an Architecture with Current Tools
- Building a Collaborative Solution Architecture Design
- Extend Architecture Meta-Data into the Visio Modeling Environment
- Deriving to an Architecture with a series of Architecture Decisions
- Architecture Management
- Understanding Architecture Policy
- Managing an Architecture Life Cycle
- Navigate and Explore Approved IT Patterns
- Navigate and Explore Existing IT Architectures
- Obtaining the information for IT Strategy Management
- Determining the Total Cost of Ownership of an Architecture
- Manage and publishing of Principles, Policies and Standards
Keep in mind that this effort requires a great deal of work. There needs to be established:
- Organizational Structures
- Operating Models
- Definitions for Success Criteria
- Savvy resource that can handle political maneuvering
- New range of Architecture Operating Models
- A great deal of Facilitation to help IT / Business / Operations work optimally together
Having clearly defined engagement and operating model should enable your organization to have a repeatable process for making decisions and delivering on artifacts at the right level of quality and consistency.