SOA: 5 ways to better reach the business

Companies that tightly fuse SOA with business planners report greater long-term success.

In a new article over at CIO, Forrester Research's Randy Heffner provides guidelines to help SOA proponents to keep their eyes on the business. Heffner points out that the SOA efforts that are fused most closely with the business are those that have the best outcomes.

1. Involve businesspeople in service interface design review and approval: The "fulcrum" of SOA that "builds a foundation for other SOA governance practices." Build service interface reviews into project plans whenever services are created (or updated)," Heffner advises. Involve staff from the business side.

2. Business staff should engage in SOA service portfolio management: "One way to start is to gather five or six staff members who understand a given business domain and have the group spend an afternoon or a day answering the question, 'What are the major business transactions and queries in this business domain?' Each of these is a candidate SOA business service," says Heffner.

3. Enable application road maps and SOA opportunity reviews: Build an SOA opportunity review into your project planning, "wherein SOA-qualified staff identify how (and how much) SOA to use on each project, can ensure that a strong architecture is built into your projects from the start, before the project budget is set."

4. Position SOA management as a way to develop business insight: As SOA matures, keep asking the question: "Would it be valuable for businesspeople to understand something from the flow of data in and out of this service?" Heffner says. "If so, SOA infrastructure can siphon off business data from your service flows and use it for business analysis."

5. Build SOA policy management to enable decision management: SOA policy management, also more suited for mature SOA efforts, enables service creators to design decision criteria into services.