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Selling the new enterprise architecture - Part 3

Service-centred IT requires clarity and a commonality of vision

Australia Post CIO, Wayne Saunders

Australia Post CIO, Wayne Saunders

The CIO mandate

A recent Deloitte survey suggested the situation could gradually be improving, with 43 per cent of Australian CIOs saying they had a shared vision between IT and the business and 54 per cent arguing that IT plays a role in the definition of business strategy.

It may be good news for technically grounded EAs who expect frameworks like [xref:http://pubs.opengroup.org/architecture/togaf9-doc/arch/index.html|TOGAF]] to burst that bubble overnight — but they’re still quite likely to end up disappointed: Despite its value, TOGAF can suffer from intrinsic shortcomings in the process by which EAs are selected and trained.

Put TOGAF into the hands of a technically focused EA, for example, and he or she is likely to revert to old habits sooner or later. It is why enterprise architecture consultants warn that a proper approach must be driven by real change — and a healthy degree of scepticism that keeps people, rather than the framework, front and centre.

A framework is no substitute for creativity

“The danger of TOGAF is thinking that following it step by step will lead you automatically to the solution,” says Gartner's Asia-Pacific research director for enterprise architecture, Bard Papagaaij. “But a framework is no substitute for creativity, and 70 per cent of the EA’s work is influencing people.” CIOs can foster this creativity by maintaining a battery of supporting efforts such as sustained mentoring programs, as well as empowerment of EAs to maintain business relationships and careful consideration of the types of staff chosen for EA roles in the first place.

Read Part 1 of Selling the new enterprise architecture.

Ex-business analysts, in particular, often bring the communication skills, contextual knowledge and analytical skills Papagaaij sees as the three qualities essential for EA success — although they can suffer credibility issues if they don’t have enough technical knowledge to be seen as legitimate interlopers on the IT side as well.

Peter Bourke, for one, has addressed the issue at Westfield by positioning his four general managers of IT as account directors within four major business units — and incentivising them for on-time, on-budget project delivery.

“They sit on the management teams of those business units,” the Westfield Group's IT Director explains. “They participate in all decisions that are made, and ensure that any decisions involving technology have IT positioned directly and have heavy involvement from the business.” Another key to successful enterprise architecture is keeping it current, Lemon warns.

“We see many organisations keen to tackle the lack of meaningful architecture, but activities are pursued only to inform one planning exercise,” he explains. “Ninety per cent of architectures sit on the shelf collecting dust, and the tough thing is to implement a strategy that keeps it current and active. It’s ultimately something that has to be entrenched in your operating processes.”

Australia Post CIO, Wayne Saunders, is working hard on all counts to entrench both business and organisational change into the core of its ‘Future State Architecture’ (FSA), a massive architectural overhaul on which the company has spent more than three years — rebuilding its infrastructure and application environment.

Read Part 2 of Selling the new enterprise architecture.

During the planning stages, Saunders worked hard to ensure that EAs were actively engaged with business leaders throughout the process. “Fundamental to the project was taking the concepts, strategies and ideas to the board three and a half years ago,” he explains.

“FSA was a roadmap for the organisation built around building blocks; I put a slide in front of them with 13 families of applications and building blocks that are fundamentally structured around SAP as our ERP system. And that architecture has resonated with the board ever since; it’s our framework for the organisation.”

Executing such a major transformation required “visionary” senior enterprise architects, says Saunders, who both communicate with the business and translate technology outcomes to business outcomes. Each of his four general managers of IT “faces off into the core business units and is a part of that leadership team as well. It was matrix managed, and they know they are absolutely accountable as GMs to those business units — not only for delivery, but for the definition of future roadmaps.”

That’s a big change from organisations where IT still predominates. Yet as the shift towards service-oriented business and flexible Cloud-based enterprise architectures continues, Gartner’s Papagaaij believes the role of the EA will fall even more concretely in the business camp.

“I would expect it would almost force EAs to step away from the technology because it will eventually be placed outside their reach,” he explains. “Once it’s virtualised and outsourced, the amount of influence you have on the actual technology is a lot less. As it should be.”

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Tags SOAIT architectureTOGAFPeter Bourkeenterprise architectureWestfield GroupEADeloitteGartnerWayne Saundersaustralia post

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