Tag Archives: Enterprise Architecture

Social networking… How?

It’s been a few weeks that while discussing with people at conferences, meetings or even lunch… “Social Network” topic come up on the table quite often. Is it because of me, raising the topic or not? That I cannot say. Anyhow, due to these discussions I decided to share this article with you, even if, at the first glance, it might seem not fully in-line with my usual topics on this blog, in a way it is.

Goal

The goal of this article is to share what I call “My social network strategy”, even if I know that “strategy” might sounds a bit presumptuous in this context. But, to my defend, I always prone a vision + a meaning (which we can call “strategy”) to whatever we start to do (otherwise, why doing it?). So even for social networking, I think it is needed to know what we want to do and set a strategy, principles to follow… even our own borders to not cross. Of course, we all do that, unconsciously at least, but like some philosophers would (better) explain than me: it is always better to be conscious of what we want to do!

My social network strategy / principles and a few more…

For the ones who already know me a bit, guess what, yes, all is described in the mind map below! 🙂 I hope you will enjoy reading!
Of course, don’t hesitate to react on the comments if there are things that are not clear to you after your map reading.

Please, find the downloadable mindmap version (.mmap) on http://www.biggerplate.com :  http://www.biggerplate.com/mindmaps/DDMCQJZf/my-personal-social-networking-strategy

Opening

There we are, time to conclude this article. As usual, I would like not to close this topic but more give it an opening. As you might see, I gave you some of my strategies / principles for personal social networking. I do believe that most of these principles apply to Social Networking in the Enterprise as well… The generation Y effect (increasing amount of generation Y people in the enterprises) might help us to give it a kick, but as usual, this should not be done through the technology only (even if it is attractive) but with a real strategy! (Again!! 🙂 ) When it comes to “Enterprise social network”, I think some additional principles have to be taken care of. Of course, a meaning is (as always) needed, but in addition to a personal initiative, this meaning (e.g.: “Why do you want to establish an “Enterprise Social Network” at your company”) has to be explained / communicated / anchored with the whole enterprise. And this is another challenge to be reach!

Next generation of Enterprise Architecture

Early this morning, while glancing through the latest tweets on my iphone, I was attracted by last post from Richard Veryard on slideshare:

Preamble

Good slideshow though, but since I felt that it is going a bit in many different directions, I felt that I had to react on this one, directly on my blog to reflect my own thoughts regarding: How should we deal with enterprise architecture in big companies? Richard starts his slideshow by exposing 2 historical views of Enterprise Architecture: the “Simplify and Unify” view and the “Differentiate and Integrate” view. Structuring the begining of his presentation through this split, Richard starts quickly to mention ancient approaches such as “Information Engineering” structure versus the well-known “Zachman framework“. then, he also mentions the different trends / challenges the EA is facing to… But, finally, what is the main stand-point that comes out of this presentation? To be honest, I miss a bit Richard’s stand point at the end of the presentation. So here is mine (stand-point):

My point is…

I would say that, in general, I try to learn from history and experimented people such as John Zachman and Roger Session, but at the same time, I don’t want to follow them blind. I think times change and EA has to change as well (even quicker).
To me, such approach as Zachman’s framework, which is a 198x’s vestige (see my article: Top Four Enterprise Architecture Methodologies) or trying to simplify the IS way too much, when if fact we, as Enterprise Architect must admit/deal with this complexity (up to a certain point). We (EntArch) have to make this complexity manageable and introduce enough flexibility in it to better support the business objectives.  Not saying, as I mentionned earlier that we should forget the previous frameworks or structures, but more to know them, understand their points, why they raised when they did and look at today trends/issues to make our own opinions.

Then, let’s re-invent the wheel again will you tell me… No, sorry I am not this kind. I looked for a real EA methodology for a while before finding one that suit the best to my personnal beliefs. To me, the Praxeme methodology is the EA methodology that suits the best to my personal perception of what the EA should be/do.

There I think that Praxeme is fully supporting the EA challenges Richard is pinpointing. (see fig. 1)

My Conclusion

I would quote Richard when Richard writes:
“Not suppressing complexity but managing complexity”

This is exactly what I am trying to do when practising EA. EA should not be done for the “beauty of the move”, but for the whole-of-the-enterprise sake and benefit. To add to Richard’s presentation, I would say that in order to “manage the company IS complexity and support business objectives“, we need both the theory and the practice. There,  it’s time to mention Emmanuel Kant that is underneath the Praxeme’s approach:

Theory without practice is useless; Practice without theory is blind.

Let’s come back to the title: “Next generation of Enterprise Architecture”. To me the next generation of Enterprise Architecture and as a consequence: Enterprise Architects :D, where I expect from myself to be a key player ( 😉 french humor) is based on a true Business approach. We, as Enterprise Architects, have to get our key business decision makers to understand the value of spending money on EA to gain money on the maintenance (IT costs), reduce the project failure rate… stop re-doing project to achieve the same goals without succeeding each time.

Once your top management is convinced, then it is time to go to work. Start from the semantic level to keep the flexibility in the whole enterprise system. Break the silos, avoid hard-coded business rules that have lead us to where historic companies are entangled in today. Complex and frozen Information System that is not anymore able to support the always moving targets of our companies, neither the economical volatilities that we are currently facing or the increasing competition (to mention a few…). Our companies have no choice to evoluate or die. This is pure evolution theory.

  • If you are lucky and work for companies like Google or Apple, then you have not much to achieve in the first hand (convinced your management), mainly because the top management is already convinced and they have trusted the vision I described above. In addition, they didn’t have to manage the complexity coming from all the heritage of ages (usually called “Legacy”).
  • In case you’re not working for Google or Apple, then you are even more lucky! Look at all the interesting job you have in front of you! I use to quote Booker T. Washington when saying:

“You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals.”

So, let’s go to work!

How to recover the Gap between Business & IT?

Why does the Gap between Business and IT exist?

I’m sure you will find people who will try to convince you that there is no gaps between business and IT. But, I can give you my piece of advice, it’s been quite many years now that I am working in this context and I can tell you, there are gaps… I am even use call to call it a schism sometimes. But let’s look at why does this schism exist? If we want to treat it, don’t we have to identify the origin of the problem? Since we are Enterprise architect, it is always put forward that we are here to “align the business and IT”, so let’s look at the “what do we have to fill to align them”.

When it comes to improving enterprise performance via technology, IT and the business usually approach the same problem from two vastly different perspectives.  As a consequence, on one hand, business people often lack an appreciation for the IT technical ramifications of adopting a new process. On the other hand,  technology and IT teams usually find business requirements unrealistic. Of course, if both parties are unable to bridge that gap in a highly collaborative way, the consequences can be significant.

As an example, consider the scenario in which the business makes what it believes to be a simple functional request: “I just want to have this function in my application. I would make my life easier”… Then, only to hear back from IT that this request will take six months to be delivered. While it may be true that there are substantial technical implications associated with specific business requests, IT should not expect business users to understand the full impact of all the IT management details – and it isn’t necessary for them to.

How to recover the Gap between Business & IT?

Better approaches would be:

  • For business, express and explain their needs, the reason why, benefits they are expecting… in two words: the Business Case (honest one, not a fake).
  • For IT to focus on translating the IT management details into business language, so business can understand what IT is saying.

A trap where business is too often ended in is to ask to IT a solution that they have already decided on their own. E.g: ” “I want to have this function in my application.” Doing that is starting it all from the wrong foot and can lead the whole project to huge consequences. My own analysis of this situation is the following: this is happening mainly due to that business doesn’t can/want to spend time to explain what their are already convinced at and that the trust between business and IT is missing from the beginning. So it requires some effort from business to express their needs and not the solution they want. But they are not the only ones who need to make some efforts…

IT has to make effort on its side as well. To start with, IT has to make sure that the thought solutions are really addressing the business real need behind.  Nowadays in many companies, it is quite usal to have IT having the mission to strive for commonality in IT solutions to support different business processes to be supported by the same service or at a lower level: function. Of course, the main goal here is to reduce IT cost. So,back to my first purpose here: to analyse business’ requests and identifying already existing/future services/functions which address the same kind of need is the IT mission as well. Of course, it will take more time to do it, but it is for the sake of the entire company, isn’t it? So what few months spent in a project compare to years of savings? This has to be evaluated and time/money spent to do this evaluation must be accepted by both parties.

So, to me it is a jointly (usually called “collaborative”) work to be achieved. If both parties succeed, first to work on themselves, change their initial behavior, then to work together, I do think that they will be both on a better shape to go for a success. Once IT fully comprehends what the business is trying to accomplish, it may be able to offer an alternative approach that meets the fundamental business requirements and it would even might be done in a shorter time frame at the end.

Opening

Working together on essential business capabilities instead of implementation details, IT and business can often identify solutions that blend the two perspectives. In fact, such collaboration often enables the business to leverage what IT knows about current capabilities or best practices in other parts of the organization. It requires both points of view to ensure that the approach will enable the business to meet market demands.
Further, this type of collaboration positions IT to lead the charge in looking for solutions that are synchronized with business needs. If IT can facilitate a shift in the paradigm to a form a cooperative relationship, both sides will gain in terms of efficiency and results. Rather than responding to requests from business, IT can proactively offer solutions and alternatives. Isn’t it what we are aiming for? So called, win-win situation…

Top Four Enterprise Architecture Methodologies

Starting point

Few weeks ago, I was on business trip, dining alone at my hotel restaurant in Gothenburg (sad story isn’t it ;)) I was using my favorite device: iphone 4 to read interesting Enterprise Architecture articles & papers, when, suddenly, my attention was caught by a direct reply on one of my tweets from my respected architect colleague: Roger Sessions Roger asked me:

RSessions Nov 16

@enectoux Thanks for the RT! BTW, have you seen our article that describes the 4 Factors of IT Coherence? http://bit.ly/9nQ36W

Which at that time, I hadn’t  read yet. So, I decided to read it carefully, as it deserved to be and give some of my feedback / thoughts to Roger and you through my blog, since a tweet would not be enough.

Quick summary

So, to start with, not to mention that you should spend the valuable time to read Roger’s paper, which I don’t want to re-write here. Let me introduce it to you quickly. The title this paper is: “Comparison of the Top Four Enterprise Architecture Methodologies”  To be honest, this title is sufficient by itself to summarize the purpose of the document.

Through this paper, Roger gives us four very good overview of the top four  framework/process/methodology/practice: Zachman, TOGAF, FEA & Gartner, but in addition to this he also gives us some clues of what does each is good at (and not that good at, as well).

My points

This said, here are my points:

When taking each of these frameworks/process… separately, I always felt uncomfortable. While reading, I remembered when I was seating in TOGAF 9 training, having the feeling that there were things missing. I couldn’t explained it at that time, then I was missing experience in Enterprise architecture field and couldn’t step back enough.

As an example:

To my point of view, Zachman framework is more a reference to which you should compare with. What for? To benchmark in which Zachman cells you are currently missing documented knowledge in your EA work. Of course, this is not enough, once you did this first step; you need to set your priority accordingly to your strategic business objectives.

So if you take Zachman only and try to use it, first thing you will get hit by is that you are missing a process to do it… This is of course, where TOGAF is coming into the picture, bringing the process… So TOGAF is completing Zachman, good… but not enough – that would have been too easy –

Then comes FEA which brings a methods, yes, ok… but… still not enough. So there it comes, the big one: Gartner! Hurrah! We finally get it all, right? Of course not! But why? will you ask me! We have a reference model, a process to get the architecture up and running, and methodologies and then top of the world EA specialists… Well, there are different reasons why, let me gives you the main ones I foresee, with the help of Roger’s paper.

Why does each of the Top Four methodologies are not enough (taken separately)?

Roger Sessions: “TOGAF merely describes how to generate an enterprise architecture, not necessarily how to generate a good enterprise architecture.”

This said, there is nothing much to add about TOGAF.

To continue, a general comment on FEA, Zachman. These 2 are IT oriented frameworks / methodology (there is also a debate about TOGAF, but let’s no opening it here now). So, OK, we know that, but the issue I see is not that they are IT oriented, but the issue is that none of them are fitting with 201x enterprises’ challenges.

Zachman and FEA were designed to answer 1980’s problems and challenges. When it comes to TOGAF, as we’ve shown it above, it doesn’t answer to any other challenge than: create the architecture. Not saying that creating the architecture is not useful, but it is architect matter that is addressed, not the CEO’s challenges, such as: “enterprise profitable growth”.

So… you will tell me: “We need another framework / process / methods…” Well, here is a debate that deserves to have its own post (coming soon) We already have plenty of these (remember that here that Roger took only the top four used ones) and I don’t want to re-invent the wheel again, but obviously, based on what I just described taken separately each of these 4 attempts is not enough.  So, we need something to help us to manage the complexity of the “thing” (enterprise in our case), to fullfill the current challenges our enterpises are facing today and to get the Enterprise Architecture moving forward.

“Get the Enterprise moving forward (with the help of the EA)”

How should Enterprise Architects help their CEOs to get their enterprise moving forward? To start with:

Then, once it is done, let’s us come back to frameworks, process, methods, best practices… when it comes the time to choose, you will have difficulties to pick one of these since they are always missing one aspect. Then… what to do? In a first step, what is important is to know these methodologies, understand what they are capable to offer you. Then, the second step is to find your own way.

“Find your own way”

I know that for a structured mind as an architect is usually provided with, this statement will not sound “satisfying”. So let me bring you few additional points here:

  • The “best practice” is always your practice (because it’s yours!) Who else than you should know better than you what you need? Of course, you might need help to express it, we all need such help from time to time, but at the end, you must be the one knowing what you want to do, right?
  • When it comes to choice and getting thing done. This is where we should stop (for a while) to structure things. Remember Gartner quote: “Just enough Enterprise Architecture, just in time”. To me, this also means that we need to keep space for “not structured thinking” (cf. my post about non-linear thinking) in order to keep freedom for creativity and get innovative.

Because yes, innovation is one of the KEY for your enterprise to get through and progress. Let’s us stop here for today. Next time I will tell you more about “my way”…

What does Business and IT alignment mean

What does Business and IT alignment mean? #iCMG Architecture World – Linkedin Group discussion http://ow.ly/39LVW

Above, is a link to a very long Linkedin discussion about:

What does Business and IT alignment mean?

The objective of this discussion is
1) Define what does IT alignment with business means?
2) Define process needed to align business and IT?
3) Define deliverables for Business and IT alignment (documents, reports, etc)?
4) Define roles and skills needed to for deliverables?

As many others, I particpated to this discussion, but since I am on my blog, here is my (short) answers:

Emeric Nectoux • What does Business and IT alignment mean?

1) Define what does IT alignment with business means?

=> I believe that in most industry (beside the IT industry… even if we could quesiton it) it is business that is steering the enterprise and not IT. So, taking this as a start point, IT is there to support business. That said, what is Business / IT alignment? Quite simple ;o), it is to make sure that what IT brings as support to business serve the Business goals. (and not the opposite 😮 )

2) Define process needed to align business and IT?

=> Here I will stand behind Fabien Villard (the previous post in the discussion list). he gave most of the answers: Agility, ability to catch and answer to the business needs at the same pace that business is changing… Focus on small changing instead of changing the whole world at once…

3) Define deliverables for Business and IT alignment (documents, reports, etc)?

=> Dude, do you want me to do your job? ;o) Look at framework and EA methods, I’m sure you will find what will make you happy in terms of deliverables!

4) Define roles and skills needed to for deliverables?

=> Skills: open-mind, business and IT skills, power play, pragmatism, high capacity of abstraction and at the same time being able to dig quickly into details = have the macro / micro view capacity…
Roles: whatever you name yourself, till you know what you’re doing.

I will be pleased to know your view as well…

Why doing Enterprise Architecture?

You cannot effectively manage something if you cannot “see” and understand (know)!

Especially if it is big, complicated, or will grow and change at some point in time, or if  you need to communicate accurately with others about it.


The Cost of an error

There we are, in the heart of the topic! Money, save cost…

As you figure out with this simple chart, this is common sens, the earliest you are able to detect and error in your strategy, the most money you will save.

So, how will Enterprise Architecture will help you to save money?

Enterprise Architecture is the underlying design or structure of anything:

  • It exists whether or not  it is made explicit (know).
  • If it is not explicit, assumptions must be made.

If explicit, Architecture is…

  • “The set of descriptive representations about an object…” John Zachmann
  • A model or representation of an object created in order to…
    • “see” the object,
    • “communicate”with others about the object,
    • “do” something with or to the object: create, manage, evaluate or change it.

As a final thought for this post…

Enterprise Architecture is the underneath work that support any kind of Governance. Without such approach, Governance is blind or in the case relies on “convictions”… The issue with convictions is that, in some cases, they can blind us as well and keep ourself in a box. In this case, of course,  convictions  are quite dangerous especially if they are not challenged by facts that are partly brought by Enterprise Architecture.