Companies need real-time access to review and adjust IT roadmaps and business capability maps, establish safe mode operating models, and provide guardrails to Agile teams that are working on projects to propel the company out of a crisis. Companies can use this 4-step process to architect for resiliency and enable business continuity.
A few months into this pandemic, we see companies actively adjusting to this new business climate of uncertainty and constantly changing conditions. When business continuity is called into question, attention shifts to the CIO. Technology is the glue to keeping companies together. Having ready access to up-to-date KPIs and metrics is essential to determining when to pivot into new “what-if scenarios” and enable quick decisions. Enterprise IT is the mechanism that keeps a business operational and effective even under extreme and unprecedented conditions.
Speed is of the essence and companies need real-time access to adjust IT roadmaps and business capability maps, establish safe mode operating models, and provide barriers to Agile teams that are working on projects to propel the company out of the crisis. Companies can use architecture to achieve resiliency through scale, speed, and flexibility.
Four steps to architecting for resiliency and business continuity
Step 1: Get prepared
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." - John Wooden
It has never been more important to prepare and get your house in order. You need to understand your capabilities, especially the critical ones, as well as the supporting technologies to keep your company running. Key steps involve:
- Identify business capabilities - Understand what is critical to sustain during a crisis within a safe mode enterprise stage.
- Define criticality - Compare the criticality to the efficiency, cost, and technological stability.
- Modernize - Focus transformation efforts on critical capabilities with low efficiency, high cost, or low technological stability.
Step 2: Establish your level of need
"Prioritize your needs and discipline your wants." - Anonymous
When a crisis happens, companies need to make tough decisions on where to prioritize time, resources, and effort. Key steps include:
- Identify your needs - Establish KPIs and metrics for the “business as usual” situation as well as for a “crisis” situation. This is the starting point of the business needs analysis to determine the minimum level required to withstand a crisis. This exercise should be performed before the crisis happens, although it is still valuable during a crisis.
- Identify available assets - Ensure your architecture can tell you what is required to make the capability work. It’s imperative to understand the impact of assets on capabilities and how these assets support capabilities.
- Understand the company’s dependency on capabilities - Use an environment graph to see if an asset is supporting a critical business capability so you don’t create a bigger problem down the line.
- Prioritize assets - Ensure your customers can get what they need/expect as some capabilities could disappear and related processes will need to be shut down. It’s important to have the flexibility to prioritize assets by customer type and channel to understand the usage and business context of each. A customer journey map connects each customer interaction to the underlying process and technology to ensure clarity for prioritization.
Step 3: Test and adapt
"Every success story is a tale of constant adaptation, revision, and change." - Richard Branson
Preparedness is the difference between surviving and thriving. It’s important to check your IT health regularly to test crisis scenarios. Review your value streams and capability maps to determine what could happen if part of your business changes overnight. This preparation should be done in the following repeatable process, assuming you already have a minimal inventory of business capabilities and applications.
- Assess business criticality of enterprise assets - Utilize inventory of assets reports in your EA repository. Assess your business capabilities to determine which would be essential during a crisis, or period of significant disruption. Utilize the connections to applications and technologies to determine which are necessary to support critical capabilities.
- Define safe mode operating model - Establish a target safe mode state for the enterprise to operate in a crisis or period of significant disruption. Review all critical capabilities to determine their level of performance required to sustain the business through the disruption. Identify opportunities to reduce function and increase resources focused on critical needs.
- Identify opportunities to survive and thrive - Use the safe mode view of the enterprise to determine areas where increased optimization would benefit the organization. Look for new opportunities to thrive as lessons learned are discovered and adapted into the enterprise.
Step 4: Innovate and redesign
"Design is not just what it looks like and how it feels like, it's how it works." - Steve Jobs
To achieve new resilient operations, companies may need to reimagine the way they do business. This moment could be an opportunity to review and reprioritize the vision and the goals of the company. You may ask, “Are we doing the right actions to support our company in those situations? What does our enterprise roadmap look like? Are the objectives in line with the situation, what can we pause? What will help us?” Here’s how you can do this using a business-outcome-driven enterprise architecture tool:
- Define new objectives - Complete a SWOT analysis and describe the Company’s business strategy, including vision, goals, strategy, and tactics. Identify the business capabilities required to achieve these strategic objectives. Build the enterprise strategic roadmap by identifying the transformation stages and specifying for each stage the objectives and required business capabilities.
- Define a new operating model - Develop the new architecture based on the business capabilities that have been redefined. Perform gap analysis and identify pieces of the IT environment that should be redesigned to support the new business capabilities
- Build project portfolios and follow-up - Identify candidate projects to be in alignment with changing business objectives. Build the roadmap by prioritizing projects based on various factors including a financial perspective and architectural impact. Monitor progress, track business changes, assess their impact, and continuously adjust the roadmap.
Business Resilience: will you struggle to survive or prepare to thrive?
Enterprise architecture is perhaps more important than ever as companies need to make quick decisions to operate, survey, and thrive. To achieve success, it’s recommended to use a business-outcome-driven enterprise architecture tool that has the capability to provide automated and out-of-the-box reporting that helps you track relevant KPIs. Even if you haven’t invested in a tool yet, it’s not too late. This type of tool can help you onboard and realize results in as little as four weeks by using open APIs to integrate across your digital ecosystem and crowd-sourcing surveys to collect data.