As I build, design, and understand my IT architecture world, it is important I realize how each asset could impact one another. If I remove one block, does my structure still stand? Could I hurt a major piece of my structure? How can I transition one block in to remove an older, fading block? If I remove an application, who and what will be impacted?
I start to see all the connections. See how a functionality is realized by an application. See what software technologies support my application. See the infrastructure breakdown.
It’s really being able to see how a completed application system interaction is developed and taking a closer look at those exchanges.
Being able to model to the micro-service level; seeing that deployable software component.
Even splitting an application according to technical criteria which helps me better understand that an application cannot work alone. That everything in the IT ecosystem is truly connected.
It’s the high stakes game of jenga.
And it’s not just what we currently have in our inventory. It’s what we as an organization want to drive towards and how we wish to enhance our exhibited capabilities and build towards it. If we see that an application has many supporting technologies moving towards obsolescence, is it better to move to the cloud or continue to support on-premise? While looking at this technical infrastructure supporting this application, can we look to enhance the application as well?
We can send out an ideation campaign and start to see the request and the ideas come forward. And by being part of the innovation management team, I can consider the current view of our architectural landscape and see if and how we can get it done. What ideas should be candidates and how to prioritize what comes first. And how I can take my company to the next level of winning the transformation game. All while keeping that jenga tower intact.
And as I get older, I realize its not a bad thing to read the directions before dumping out all the blocks. Now, I read the back of the box to really understand what my toy, I mean tool, can really do.
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CIO’s need immediate answers they can deliver to stakeholders and be able to quickly take on any potential issues. They need to have confidence in their choices and have the background details to explain why. They earned the spot at the executive table, and there is a reason for it. But they are also human. They wake up in a bed, drink a cup a coffee in the morning, and after I am sure a long day at work come home to their family. So I started to imagine what an average week day for me would be if I put on the pants of a CIO….
Beep, beep, beep.
Me: Darn, alarm! Is it 5 am already? Ok…I will hit snooze once and I’ll be up at 5:15 am
Beep, Beep, Beep.
Me: Ok, it is time to start the day. I have an hour before I need to get the kids up and ready for school. First things first. Time to get a cup of coffee.
Mmmm, this coffee taste like magic. Alright, time to really get the day started. First, I’ll check my email.
Yikes! Why did I take a look at emails? Ok, let’s take a few minutes to prioritize before I hop in the shower. It’s always nice to have the emergency emails answered in the morning and the other emails responded to by the end of the day.
Me: Ok, 5 meetings out of the way. Now to prep for the other 6….
What questions to expect for my 11:30?
They will be looking to see what a breakdown of how we categorize our application costs. Alright, time to open up my MEGA dashboards and give this a look.
Now that I can see how the cost adds up for each of our applications, the team and I can determine which applications can be leveraged in our TIME evaluation.
Speaking of which, John will probably want to talk about the Business Value status breakdown that each application contributes based on the questionnaire results submitted thus far. After we get them all in, it’ll be easy to aggregate the results and determine where to move forward with an application.
So it looks like we have a strong percentage that are application owner’s view as beneficial business value.
A few screen shots here, PowerPoint images there. Voila. I’m ready for the next meeting. Which is good, I have 20 minutes until it starts. This means I actually have time for lunch today!
Vacation Package Booking is a major process we are adding to our capabilities in the next few months. Let’s see if we put together a potential version of what the process will look like so I can share with the stakeholders. And I want to ensure we move forward with a standard template to be visible in all Standard Operating Procedures for training and continuous improvement initiatives.
We should also develop a system process that will help create specifications of the software that will be required. Speaking of which, did we finish that system process for “SP-ST-Update Shopping Cart”? I want the team to model this to help us make sure we select the best software. Which reminds me, we will need to move forward in setting up meetings with vendors for our committee selection of that software. So let me query for it…
And did we finally drill down to our data view of our “Trip Packaging” model?
Perfect! This will support our conceptual view of our data model, identifying the key pieces of data needed to decipher if we have the proper systems in place for our day-to-day work.
For our monthly global strategy call, let me ensure we have all the proper visuals to accurately depict we are all in the same mindset regarding what we are looking to achieve.
Ok, I have a 30 minute drive before I get to the soccer field, and since the soccer game happens in rain or shine….and it’s pouring, I’m going to need a hot chocolate while I watch.
Now that the game is over, dinner has been eaten, and the kids are in bed…it’s me time. I think I’ll check out that MEGA podcast the guys in the office have been talking about and then maybe update my Pinterest board.
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I come from an Italian heritage and am very proud to be part of a “foodie” family. Some people simply eat for the sake of eating. For my family, meals are an elaborate affair! And no Sunday would be complete without the smell of a fresh red sauce and basil overpowering your senses and making your stomach grumble as you eagerly wait for the family to surround the dinner table. When I make a sauce, I have my basic ingredients that are needed to make it a staple and identifiable meal. Of course, once I’ve covered the basics, I make adjustments to accommodate my own tastes… a little extra basil, some garlic, etc.
One day I was making the sauce and it occurred to me, how I go about making this meal is very similar to how I approach my clients in regards to an enterprise architecture pilot. Both take an agile approach.
When a client embarks on creating a mature EA practice, there are items that are needed to determine a structured approach:
Defining your Business Architecture: Being able to organize your business processes and day to day operations in a strategic sense that aligns with the companies objectives.
Identifying your Data Architecture: Focusing on information that is being generated and consumed by the business.
Describing your Application Architecture: Identifying what application resources the company currently has available and what functionalities these IT resources deliver in support of the business capabilities.
Identifying, Aligning and Optimizing Your Technology Infrastructure: Determining what technology infrastructure is in place to host your applications.
Now these items will not happen overnight. And by no means will it be perfect the first time through. But it takes time, practice, patience and testing. So this is where agile comes in…
It’s identifying the proper foundation to allow you to set off in the right direction. Once you are stable, you start to add your own characteristics to allow the practice of enterprise architecture to best fit your organization’s needs. You add that garlic, basil, red pepper to make that sauce your own. Bring in the ingredients of an ideal governance practice, modeling best practices, and industry terminology that aligns with your organization’s communication.
Finally, it’s all about tasting it and making it better before you serve it. Understand what stakeholders and users are seeking in determining a successful enterprise architecture practice. Have them be a part of the “tasting” and have them add suggestions. Let them identify what works and what does not before serving it to the masses. And once you’ve perfected your own unique enterprise architecture method, everyone will want a seat at the table! Bon appetite!
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Many elementary schools participate in a fun exercise that helps young students communicate more effectively and understand the importance of details when explaining a process. If you are unfamiliar with the “PB&J” experiment, it goes something like this….
Teacher: “Ok kids, I need help. I’m really hungry. So I’m going to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The thing is, I’m not too sure how to make it. Can you help? What do I need to do first?” Students: “Put the peanut butter on!!!” Teacher puts the peanut butter jar over the table. Nothing comes out. Students: “Noooo! You need to open it first” Teacher opens jar. Flips peanut butter over. Nothing comes out. Students: “Nooo! You need a knife!” Teacher uses a knife and starts to put peanut butter on the table. Students: “No, not the table. Put the peanut butter on the bread!”
As this exercise progresses, the students start to catch on. Everyone knows how to make a PB&J sandwich, if you know what a PB&J sandwich is. Yet when you are asked to explain the process, you realize the amount of detail that actually goes into something so simple.
Years later, when these kids grow up to become business leaders, they find themselves in the same situation. They can describe a high-level process of a common procedure, but there is a lack of detail. Where should they look to get a detailed description of what they need to do and how they’re going to do it? Many organizations are missing documentation to help understand their processes and answer crucial questions that support the organization’s capabilities.
What is the activity/project I need to complete? It’s impossible to move forward effectively if we don’t know what we’re trying to accomplish or how we’re going to do it.
What are the steps involved in the process? By outlining a process with the correct level of detail, a business leader can view if there is a gap that has been missed or redundancy in the process. Arranging procedures in order will allow those involved with a process to identify if a task is currently managed in the most efficient and effective way. Ever try making a PB&J without a knife or spoon? It gets messy….
What will I need to complete the operation? How something is implemented or what is needed from a technology or product perspective is important to identify. Understanding what resources are required to complete a step can assist in executing a task effectively and efficiently. Once we begin modeling our processes, we’ll want to make sure we include a risk perspective. Strategies and processes that don’t include a risk perspective are just fantasies.
Why is a risk perspective important to my process models? What risks are there when we use a knife compared to a spoon? If we give one of those third graders a knife, do they have the appropriate motor skills to use that knife properly? Are they aware that once you use the knife in the jelly, you need to wash it before you place it in the peanut butter? Why? Perhaps cross contamination can occur and the jelly, which is supposed to be refrigerated, is now in the peanut butter and causing bacteria build-up for the next unsuspecting family member craving PB&J. The risk perspective is another example of how including the right amount of detail is important. It would be unrealistic to assume that all players are aware of all risks associated with business processes. Providing that detail not only allows individuals or groups to navigate more effectively and efficiently, but it delivers an additional perspective to decision-makers regarding when, where, and how to direct the business. Finally, how do we know how to make a PB&J sandwich? It had to be taught to us somehow…
Transfer of Knowledge: Companies know that there will be employees who come and go. Sometimes there are valuable employees who leave with a strong, in-depth knowledge of processes they were part of for years. So when a new resource comes in, there will be a significant gap in time before they have a strong understanding of a procedure. By documenting processes, the project team can establish a library of documentation that captures all relevant processes and knowledge. Thus, new employees or project team members will have an undisputed reference that can be interpreted easily. This documented process also allows for consistency across the organization for how similar procedures are to be carried out.
If you can’t describe what you are doing as a step-by-step process, can you really be confident in what you are doing? By documenting your processes, you:
establish a more efficient step-by-step procedure
determine what tools are in place or need to be in place to support a process
identify risks to allow leaders to mitigate risks before they become catastrophic
create solid references from experts to share throughout the organization
As with anything, balance is necessary. If we assume all key stakeholders involved with a project understand every step of a process, we’re likely to end up with people filling in gaps with their own assumptions, and that will eventually catch up to us in the form of problems. If we congest a process description with too much detail, we might overwhelm people and cause them to lose sight of the overall process. Providing the right amount of detail in our business processes allows players to understand what they’re trying to achieve, how they’re going to do it, resources they’ll require, and risks they need to be aware of along the way.
Remember, making a PB&J doesn’t have to get messy if you know the best way to explain it.
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As Heraclitus once said, “change is the only constant in life”. In order to evolve and sustain our existence, we must adapt. This statement stands true for countless companies that are in the midst of constant technological advancements.
In order for an organization to understand its opportunities and threats, the leaders of a company needs to review its current strategy and identify its strengths and weaknesses. By establishing a strong view from various specs, there should be a direct line from high level strategy straight down to the people who run the day to day activities. These are the activities that help implement the companies’ objectives that will support the overall business goals.
In a world full of computers, routers, applications, and automation, it can be easy to forget the human factor. If a company does not have the appropriate resources in the right positions, then the rate of failure is far greater. For instance, John F. Binning and Anthony J. Adorno of the Human Resource Group would reveal that 50-60% of turnover can be reduced through the right job fit  . With this drastic reduction, the company can focus on the direction of the organization rather than recruiting new resources and the constant training of new employees.
In a recent webinar, MEGA presented the value of having the right skills and competencies and how it leads to results. By having the best fit resources, IT leaders can transform businesses and help lead to successful execution of your future goals.
Before a company can view if an individual has potential for growth and success in the current position, the employee themselves must understand exactly what it is that they do. From an employee in the IT field’s perspective, they may find it difficult to answer the question, “What would you say you do here?” Realistically, it’s hard being that mom or dad at their kid’s career day trying to describe how they change and drive strategic consistency in an organization through being aware of technology trends and being on the successful side of technology disruption. There’s no way they want to follow the firefighter or chef parent with that.
IT leaders should clearly state what each person’s role is and support their team by properly communicating this information. And by assisting them in defining their role, you can further assess the success rate the employee will have in this position. This will allow the company to properly prepare for change and opportunity with the right people in the right positions on board.
Below are four simple ways to ensure you have the right human capital:
Keep it simple. Sometimes, being in the technical industry, we get so detailed and granular when communicating that we may as well be speaking another language. And between BPMN, UML, JAVA, etc., we basically are. Help evolve your employees’ dialect so there is a common and constant business language that is understood by all sectors of the organization. Verbal communication is crucial for success. Help them keep the lingo simple.
Add value to the team. Don’t let them think that “just doing enough” is going to qualify as success. By letting them feel safe in taking calculated risks, you can better understand what type of value they contribute to the company. Their true talent may shine through given the right opportunity. Taking those chances and going for a win is how people get ahead. Help your employees get ahead.
Don’t make your team members do things they aren’t good at. Now this isn’t an excuse to let them get out of doing an expense report. Or you for that matter! It’s helping them do an analysis on themselves. Help your employees identify their strengths and have them build on those strengths. Allow employees to verbalize their weaknesses and help them to grow from this awareness. Or, help them realize that their current position may not be an ideal fit and this may lead to a difficult road ahead. See where you can go from this.
Never Stop Learning. Excite them with this idea. Help them grow into the position or a position you find to be a fit for them. Realistically, with immediate access to online articles from various sources and a strong networking pool, they have the ability to achieve enormous success unlike ever before. Your company is only as strong as its weakest link. Help strengthen those links.
IT jobs are sometimes very difficult to define. But by helping your employees better understand their role; you in turn will better understand your business. Get ahead and turn changes into opportunities by having the right people in the right place at the right time.
 The Right Person for the Job, by Pamela Holloway
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Dans une structure mûre et organisée, les différents responsables d'une application et leurs prérogatives sont connus et définis. Alors d’accord, pas de « possession » dans une relation amoureuse, mais quand votre père a rencontré votre mère, elle était bien « sa » petite amie et réciproquement. Je ne suis pas là pour donner des conseils en séduction, mais, explicites ou pas, il y avait bien des rôles et des responsabilités ! Examinons plutôt cela sous un angle technologique.
Le rôle du responsable d’application local est essentiel pour maintenir l’application en vie. Un responsable d’application local a besoin de comprendre les fonctionnalités de l'application et sa valeur pour l’entreprise. Je détaille un peu plus son profil:
Popularité : le responsable d’application local doit être conscient de la popularité de l'application. Combien d'utilisateurs s’en servent actuellement? Combien de ressources pourraient l’utiliser prochainement? Quel est le nombre maximum d'utilisateurs pour cette application? Quelle est la durée de vie de cette application et qui sera concerné par son retrait ou son remplacement?
Communication : Combien d’applications interagissent avec l’application visée ? Quel contenu est reçu par elle, produit, par qui et pour qui ?
Sous-Applications : Quels composants sous-jacents sont nécessaires au fonctionnement de cette application ? (middle ware, base de données…)
Profil de risque : Quel est le risque de défaillance de cette application? Si cette application « tombe » ou devient indisponible, quel est l'impact sur l'entreprise et ses opérations? Y a-t’ il un plan de continuité pour en atténuer les conséquences?
Règlementation : Quels principes régissent l’utilisation de cette application (par exemple pour la gestion qu’elle fait des données personnelles) ? Les utilisateurs de cette application doivent-ils respecter des réglementations ? Le savent-ils et savent-ils lesquelles et pourquoi ?
Une personne peut avoir un ou plusieurs rôles liés à son statut de responsable d’application. Ces rôles peuvent couvrir de nombreux aspects de l'application, de sa maintenance à ses interactions avec l’extérieur. Et les rôles peuvent être assumés par des personnes différentes. Une application peut également avoir plusieurs responsables pour le même sujet.
Mais le plus important dans la relation responsable / application, c’est la Communication : c’est elle qui favorisera la standardisation d'une application donnée, et assurera une vision partagée par tous ses responsables de son cycle de vie. Se comprendre, n’est-ce pas fondamental ?
“And that, kids, is how your application owner met their application.”
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Well, in a business sense you can chalk its 60 million year old existence to successful evaluation of risks. The sloth high in a tree branch has an overall view of its landscape below; in business you are always looking for that holistic view of your enterprise. This view allows you to see where trouble lies and opportunities are presented. For the sloth, when you move 13 feet a minute and a Jaguar is hungry for lunch, you bet you want to know where you are going and when the most optimal time to venture out is. Risk Evaluations can come in many different forms. Four instances are presented below:
1. Purchasing of Redundancy: If a company has all the applications it currently needs to meet its Business Capabilities, why invest more time and money in new applications? Many times, investment in new applications stems from the inability to properly manage an application portfolio. Countless organizations are often unaware of what products they have at their disposal and what these products have the potential to deliver. Thus, the company will venture out to purchase something they may already have.
2. Initiative Investment: When there is an actual need to make new IT investments, it is important to understand what you are investing in. Many times companies will be too far along in a process when they realize they have selected the wrong project to invest in. However, weighing the options through an investment analysis before any actual funding takes place can provide a clearer view into the future; or, by allowing stronger comparisons of potential projects, stakeholders can make more-informed selections. Both options help reduce the risk of a project failing due to lack of knowledge about the venture.
3. Compliance: Both keeping up and not keeping up with regulatory requirements can be very costly for an organization. By identifying which regulations must be followed and in what way, the company has the opportunity to identify the gaps of coverage and resolve those before an incident occurs.
4. Disaster Recovery: Sometimes risk in unavoidable; but it can still be mitigated. By having proper processes in place to recover after a disaster, the company can reduce the level of impact that the damage may cause. It is also imperative to identify the likelihood of risk associated with an application or asset when it does encounter failure. And if the risk does occur, what is the level of impact and what is the turnaround time to fix the issue.
With a complete view of your business landscape, you can identify where the competence of your company lies. Understand where the company’s shortfalls are. Where and when it is important to invest time, money and resources. And when it is time to get comfortable and stay in your tree branch. In today’s world, you don’t need to be the strongest, fastest, or biggest to survive. You just need to be the smartest. Limit the risk with the power of knowledge.
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With an IT Landscape that is heavily populated with various applications, it is important to identify who has ownership over each application.
In today’s technology-driven world, many organizations have a number of applications that support the overall business objectives. There are so many applications “to date”. How do you know which individual is meant to work with which application?
In a mature enterprise architecture structure, the organization should be able to establish the various owners of an application and their associated responsibilities. Now, there isn’t “ownership” in a relationship, but you know that when your dad went out with your mom, she was “his girl” and he was “her guy”. It is also imperative to understand the responsibility within the relationship. I’m not here to give dating advice, so let’s get into the technology perspective.
The role of a Local Application Owner is crucial in maintaining the success of the application. A Local Application Owner needs to understand what functionalities the application provides and what value the application is bringing to the company. In addition to this, the ideal candidate has responsibility for the following:
Popularity: The Local Application Owner needs to be aware of the popularity of the application. How many current users utilize this application? How many resources are looking to utilize this application in the future? What is the maximum number of users this application can handle? What is the lifespan of this application and who is it going to impact when it goes into retirement?
Communication: Which applications share exchanges with the target application? What content is received and by whom? On the reverse side, what content is this application producing and for whom?
Sub Applications: Are there subs-components of this application that assist in delivering its services?
Risk Profile: What is the potential of this application failing? What is the impact on the business if this application does fail? Is there a disaster recovery plan in place to mitigate the impact?
Regulation: What guidelines must be followed in support of this application? Are we compliant with the use of this application?
An individual can have one or multiple roles related to ownership of an application. They could be responsible for all spectrums of the application from cost to assets, or the roles can be filled by various individuals. An application can also have multiple owners in the same sector. What is crucial in the successful launch of defining the roles is Communication; communication will drive standardization of a particular application that will be agreed upon by all stakeholders involved in ownership of the application.
And that, kids, is how your application owner met their application.
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