Join a podcast discussion in conjunction with the latest Open Group Conference in Austin, Texas, to examine the maturing use of The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), and how enterprise architects and business leaders are advancing and exploiting the latest Version 9.
The panel explores how the full embrace of TOGAF, its principles, and methodologies are benefiting companies in their pursuit of improved innovation, responsiveness to markets, and operational governance.
Is enterprise architecture (EA) joining other business transformation agents as a part of a larger and extended strategic value? How? And what exactly are the best practitioners of TOGAF getting for their efforts in terms of business achievements?
Here to answer such questions, and delve into advanced use and expanded benefits of EA frameworks, is Chris Forde, Vice President of Enterprise Architecture and Membership Capabilities for The Open Group, who is based in Shanghai, and Jason Uppal, Chief Architect at QR Systems, based in Toronto. The panel is moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. [Disclosure: The Open Group is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
Here are some excerpts:
Uppal: This is a time for the enterprise architects to really step up to the plate and be accountable for real performance influence on the organization’s bottom line.
If we can improve things like exploiting assets better today than what we have, improve our planning program, and have very measurable and unambiguous performance indicator that we're committing to, this is a huge step forward for enterprise architects and moving away from technology and frameworks to real-time problems that resonate with executives and align to business and in IT.
An example where EA has a huge impact in many of the organizations is ... we're able to capture the innovation that exists in the organization -- and make that innovation real, as opposed to just suggestions that are thrown in a box, and nobody ever sees.
Say you define an end-to-end process using architecture development method (ADM) methods in TOGAF. This gives me a way to capture that innovation at the lowest level and then evolve it over time.
Those people who are part of the innovation at the beginning see their innovation or idea progressing through the organization, as the innovation gets aligned to value statements, and value statements get aligned to their capabilities, and to the strategies and the projects.
Therefore, if I make a suggestion of some sort, that innovation or idea is seen throughout the organization through the methods like ADM, and the linkage is explicit and very visible to the people. Therefore, they feel comfortable that their ideas are going somewhere, they are just not getting stuck.
So one of the things with a framework like a TOGAF is that, on the outside, it’s a framework. But at the same time, when you apply this along with the other disciplines, it's making a big difference in the organization, because it's allowing the IT organizations to ... actually exploit the current assets that they already have.
And [TOGAF helps] make sure the new assets that they do bring into the organization are aligned to the business needs.
Forde: In the end, what you want to be seeing out of your architectural program is moving the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the business, the business levers. If that is related to cost reduction or is related to top-line numbers or whatever, that explicit linkage through to the business levers in an architecture program is critical.
Going back to the framework reference, what we have with TOGAF 9 is a number of assets, but primarily it’s a tool that’s available to be customized, and it's expected to be customized.
You can start at the top and work your way down through the framework, from this kind of über value proposition, right down through delivery to the departmental level or whatever. Or, you can come into the bottom, in the infrastructure layer, in IT for example, and work your way up. Or, you can come in at the middle. The question is what is impeding your company’s growth or your department’s growth, if those are the issues that are facing you.
If you come to the toolset with a problem, you need to focus the framework on the area that's going to help you get rapid value to solving your particular problem set. So once you get into that particular space, then you can look at migrating out from that entry point, if that's the approach, to expanding your use of the framework, the methods, the capabilities, that are implicit and explicit in the framework to address other areas.
One of the reasons that this framework is so useful in so many different dimensions is that it is a framework. It’s designed to be customized, and is applicable to many different problems.
Uppal: When we think about an advanced TOGAF use ..., it allows us to focus on the current assets that are under deployment in the organization. How do you get the most out of them? An advanced user can figure out how to standardize and scale those assets into a scalable way so therefore they become reusable in the organization.
As we move up the food chain from very technology-centric view of a more optimized and transformed scale, advanced users at that point look and say -- a framework like TOGAF -- they have all these tools in their back pocket.
Now, depending on the stakeholder that they're working with, be that a CEO, a CFO, or a junior manager in the line of business, they can actually focus them on defining a specific capability that they are working toward and create transitional roadmaps. Once those transitional roadmaps are established, then they can drive that through.
An advanced user in the organization is somebody who has all these tools available to them, frameworks available to them, but at the same time, are very focused on a specific value delivery point in their scope.
One beauty of TOGAF is that, because we get to define what enterprise is and we are not told that we have to interview the CEO on day one, I can define an enterprise from a manager’s point of view or a CFO’s point of view and work within that framework. That to me is an advanced user.
... I use methods like TOGAF to define the capabilities in a business strategy that [leaders] are trying to optimize, where they are, and what they want to transition to.
This is where a framework allows me to be very creative, defining the capabilities and the transition points, and giving a roadmap to get to those transitions. That is the cleverness and cuteness of architecture work, and the real skills of an architect comes into, not in defining the framework, but defining the application of the framework to a specific business strategy.
... Because, what we do in the business space, and we have done it many times with the framework, is to look at the value chain of the organization. And looking at the value chain, then to map that out to the capabilities required.
Once we know those capabilities, then I can squarely put that question to the executives and say, "Tell me which capability you want to be the best at. Tell me what capability you want to lead the market in. And, tell me which capability you want to be mediocre and just be at below the benchmark in industry."
Once I get an understanding of which capability I want to be the best at, that's where I want to focus my energy. Those ones that I am prepared to live with being mediocre, then I can put another strategy into place and ask how I outsource these things, and focus my outsourcing deal on the cost and service.
This is opposed to having very confused contract with the outsourcer, where one day I'm outsourcing for the cost reasons. The other day, I'm outsourcing for growth reasons. It becomes very difficult for an organization to manage the contracts and bend it to provide the support.
That conversation, at the beginning, is getting executives to commit to which capability they want to be best at. That is a good conversation for an enterprise architect.
My personal experience has been that if I get a call back from the executive, and they say they want to be best at every one of them, then I say, "Well, you really don’t have a clue what you are talking about. You can’t be super fast and super good at every single thing that you do."
One of the things that we've been looking at [at next week's conference] from the industry’s point of view is saying that this conversation around the frameworks is a done deal now, because everybody accepted that we have good enough frameworks. We're moving to the next phase of what we do with these frameworks.
Continuous planning In Austin we'll be looking at how we're using a TOGAF framework to improve ongoing annual business and IT planning. We have a specific example that we are going to bring out where we looked at an organization that was doing once-a-year planning. That was not a very effective way for the organizations. They wanted to change it to continuous planning, which means planning that happens throughout the year.
We identified four or five very specific measurable goals that the program had, such as accuracy of your plan, business goals being achieved by the plan, time and cost to manage and govern the plan, and stakeholders’ satisfaction. Those are the areas that we are defining as to how the TOGAF like framework will be applied to solve a specific problem like enterprise planning and governance.
That's something we will be bringing to our conference in Austin and that event will be held on a Sunday. In the future, we'll be doing a lot more of those specific applications of a framework like a TOGAF to a unique set of problems that are very tangible and they very quickly resonate with the executives, not in IT, but in the entire organization.
In our future conferences, we're going to be addressing that and saying what people are specifically doing with these frameworks, not to debate the framework itself, but the application of it.
Forde: Jason is going to be talking as a senior architect at the conference on the applied side of TOGAF on Sunday [July 17]. For the Monday plenary, this is basically the rundown. We have David Baker, a Principal from PricewaterhouseCoopers, talking about business driven architecture for strategic transformations.
Then, we're going to wrap up the morning with Mike Wolf, the Principal Architect for EA Strategy and Architecture at Microsoft, talking about IT Architecture to the Enterprise Architecture.
This is a very powerful lineup of people addressing this business focus in EA and the application of it for strategic transformations, which I think are issues that many, many organizations are struggling with.
Uppal: The whole of our capability-based planning conversation was introduced in TOGAF 9, and we got more legs to go into developing that concept further, as we learn how best to do some of these things.
When I look at a capability-based planning, I expect my executives to look at it from a point of view and ask what are the opportunities and threats. What it is that you can get out there in the industry, if you have this capability in your back pocket? Don’t worry about how we are going to get it first, let’s decide that it’s worth getting it.
Then, we focus the organization into the long haul and say, well, if we don’t have this capability and nobody in the industry has this capability, if we do have it, what will it do for us? It provides us another view, a long-term view, of the organization. How are we going to focus our attention on the capabilities?
One of the beauties of doing EA is, is that when we start EA at the starting point of a strategic intent, that gives us a good 10-15 year view of what our business is going to be like. When we start architecture at the business strategy level, that gives us a six months to five-year view.
Enterprise architects are very effective at having two views of the world -- a 5-, 10-, or 15-year view of the world, and a 6-month to 3-year view of the world. If we don’t focus on the strategic intent, we'll never know what is possible, and we would always be working on what is possible within our organization, as opposed to thinking of what is possible in the industry as a whole.
Forde: In the kinds of environment that most organizations are operating in -- government, for-profit, not-for-profit organizations -- everybody is trying to understand what it is they need to be good at and what it is their partners are very good at that they can leverage. Their choices around this are of course critical.
One of the things that you need to consider is that if you are going to give X out and have the power to manage that and operate whatever it is, whatever process it might be, what do you have to be good at in order to make them effective? One of the things you need to be good at is managing third parties.
One of the advanced uses of an EA is applying the architecture to those management processes. In the maturity of things you can see potentially an effective organization managing a number of partners through an architected approach to things. So when we talked about what do advanced users do, what I am offering is that an advanced use of EA is in the application of it to third-party management.
You need a framework. Think about what most major Fortune 500 companies in the United States do. They have multiple, multiple IT partners for application development and potentially for operations. They split the network out. They split the desktop out. This creates an amazing degree of complexity around multiple contracts. If you have an integrator, that’s great, but how do you manage the integrator?
There’s a whole slew of complex problems. What we've learned over the years is that the original idea of “outsourcing,” or whatever the term that’s going to be used, we tend to think of that in the abstract, as one activity, when in fact it might be anywhere from 5-25 partners. Coordinating that complexity is a major issue for organizations, and taking an architected approach to that problem is an advanced use of EA.
Uppal: Chris is right. For example, there are two capabilities that an organization we worked with decided on ... that they wanted to be very, very good at.
We worked with a large concrete manufacturing company. If you're a concrete manufacturing company, your biggest cost is the cement. If you can exploit your capability to optimize the cement and substitute products with the chemicals and get the same performance, you can actually get a lot more return and higher margins for the same concrete.
In this organization, the concrete manufacturing process itself was core competency. That had to be kept in-house. The infrastructure is essential to make the concrete, but it wasn’t the core competency of the organization. So those things had to be outsourced.
In this organization we have to build a process -- how to manage the outsourcers and, at the same time, have a capability and a process. Also, how to become best concrete manufacturers. Those two essential capabilities were identified.
An EA framework like TOGAF actually allows you to build both of those capabilities, because it doesn’t care. It just thinks, okay, I have a capability to build, and I am going to give you a set of instructions, the way you do it. The next thing is the cleverness of the architect -- how he uses his tools to actually define the best possible solutions.
Very explicit model
Our governance model is very explicit about who does what and when and how you monitor it. We extended this conversation using TOGAF 9 many times. At the end, when the capability is deployed, the initial value statement that was created in the business architecture is given back to the executive who asked for that capability.
We say, "This is what the benefits of these capabilities are and you signed off at the beginning. Now, you're going to find out that you got the capability. We are going to pass this thing into strategic planning next year, because for next year's planning starting point, this is going to be your baseline." So not only is the governance just to make sure it’s via monitoring, but did we actually get the business scores that we anticipated out of it.
... The whole cloud conversation becomes a very effective conversation within the IT organization.
When we think about cloud, we have actually done cloud before. This is not a new thing, except that before we looked at it from a hosting point of view and from a SaaS point of view. Now, cloud is going in a much further extended way, where entire capability is provided to you. That capability is not only that the infrastructure is being used for somebody else, but the entire industry’s knowledge is in that capability.
This is becoming a very popular thing, and rightfully so, not because it’s a sexy thing to have. In healthcare, especially in countries where it’s a socialized healthcare and it's not monopolized, they are sharing this knowledge in the cloud space with all the hospitals. It's becoming a very productive thing, and enterprise architects are driving it, because we're thinking of capabilities, not components.
Forde: Under normal circumstances the IT organizations are very good at interacting with other technology areas of the business. From what I've seen with the organizations I have dealt with, typically they see slices of business processes, rather than the end-to-end process entirely.
Even within the IT organizations typically, because of the size of many organizations, you have some sort of division of responsibilities. As far as Jason’s emphasis on capabilities and business processes, of course the capabilities and processes transcend functional areas in an organization.
To the extent that a business unit or a business area has a process owner end to end, they may well be better positioned to manage the BPM outsourcing-type of things. If there's a heavy technology orientation around the process outsourcing, then you will see the IT organization being involved to one extent or another.
The real question is, where is the most effective knowledge, skill, and experience around managing these outsourcing capabilities? It may be in the IT organization or it may be in the business unit, but you have to assess where that is.
That's one of the functions that the architecture approaches. You need to assess what it is that's going to make you successful in this. If what you need happens to be in the IT organization, then go with that ability. If it is more effective in the business unit, then go with that. And perhaps the answer is that you need to combine or create a new functional organization for the specific purpose of meeting that activity and outsource need.
For most, if not all, companies, information and data are critical to their operation and planning activities, both on a day-to-day basis, month-to-month, annually, and in longer time spans. So the information needs of a company are absolutely critical in any architected approach to solutions or value-add type of activities.
I don’t think I would accept the assumption that the IT department is best-placed to understand what those information needs are. The IT organization may be well-placed to provide input into what technologies could be applied to those problems, but if the information needs are normally being applied to business problems, as opposed to technology problems, I would suggest that it is probably the business units that are best-placed to decide what their information needs are and how best to apply them.
The technologist’s role, at least in the model I'm suggesting, is to be supportive in that and deliver the right technology, at the right time, for the right purpose.
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