This week’s focus on governance could not ring truer to real world scenarios as what was experience in China this past week. When the assessment team walked into the office on Monday it became quite clear that there was a major incident as the key stakeholders of the assessment were either in meetings or had their staff assisting on the manufacturing floors. We had been made aware that there was another virus outbreak. Of course, the first response was, we had just gone through this, how are there new infections. It turns out that some of the staff that images systems are not following the standard process to image machines, and therefore are putting a non-approved image back onto the shop floor systems. In addition to that, it was discovered that there have been non-standard systems ordered which leverage a thin client and embedded version of Windows. Since this configuration is not on the baseline there was never a patching method developed for these systems.
Another incident occurred where a customer network was infected. Though it was directly impacting our infrastructure, the customer’s manufacturing lines were down and could not produce product. This caused out IT staff to stand in and assist. What was not clear was that instead of our staff working on correcting our problems first, they worked through the customer’s issue first and used all of the IT resources to do it.
These two incidents are perfect examples on why governance is so important and how effective governance can be to the enterprise and its resources. Had the team been following the proper standards, we would have never been infected again, nor would we have wasted the time of the team and they could have been focused on other issues. With regards to the customer, we want to assist the customer whenever possible, however to provide 60 hours of free IT services is not something that should be taken lightly. We should have an agreement in place that addresses these types of issues, so that all parties are aware of their roles and responsibilities.
Blog Entry 8
I have been in China for the past week doing assessments on our Infrastructure. My biggest take away so far is the need for a current architecture that everyone can understand and also refer to. We have been ramping up more manufacturing and due to the time constraints, teams have building out system very quickly to accommodate business needs and customer requests. What this has caused is what I will call a configuration drift. Configuration drift is minor changes in the configuration and d delivery of systems. This is not really an issue initial, but over time can become a significant change. This has the potential to cause problems down the road as all of the decision making and updating to the architecture will be made based on the current documentation. If areas have made modifications to the architecture and system delivery and these modifications have not been captured, then when changes to the architecture are needed, they will be difficult to implement because the real state of the environment will not be fully known.
Lack of documentation and proper training can cause so many issues, but can be corrected very easy with proper awareness training and publishing the many views documentation.
This week I learned a technique on how to do a business model known as business canvas. This is a one pager that outlines different areas of the business and gives a very good 360 degree view of the business model. This is a useful way to teach about the business model to colleagues, but can also be used a a genesis tool to see where improvements and or new business models can spawn.
As an Enterprise Architect, we understand that business itself is a living system, ever changing with the dynamics of the markets, people and process. I think it is very important for all employees to be well versed in the business model. I believe having a thorough understanding of the model, helps to map their part to the big picture. Most employees will produce better if they understand how their contributions effect the big picture. If they are just working towards an unknown goal or end, they tend to become disillusioned, or worse bitter and the work and productivity suffers.
It can be like being part of a sports team, knowing how you contributed to win the game will keep you motivated to continue to improve or keep do what you are doing.
I had an interesting debate this week with a colleague about architectures and why we are creating so many different views. My position was that depending on the audience the architectures and the story focus would be different. For example, if I was speaking to senior leadership and was illustrating our technology stack, I would use high-level boxes and speak to the capabilities of our technologies. If I was speaking to our Infrastructure group or maybe more technology focused group my illustrations and story would be more focused on the type of technology and how we specifically use it to enable the business. My overall point was that was the benefit of Enterprise Architecture. Having the “big picture” view to be able to speak to all levels of the enterprise.
This is one part of Enterprise Architecture that I think gets lost in enterprises. Most think there is either a business strategy focus or a technology focus. What I find is that they don’t make the connection that EA is the connection between the two and its effectiveness to marry strategy and technology together harmoniously.
This week I really dove into business process modeling and architecture. It was like drinking through the firehose with all the different tools and nomenclatures. I found it difficult to understand the subtle differences with the leading industry tools.
Some tools were slated more for specific functions, such as UML for software process modeling, and some accounted for more architecture stacks. Archimate which allowed for business, systems and technology modeling. Which in some cases is very beneficial for Enterprise Architecture. I have been playing with ARIS tool and it seems to be good, but there is a learning curve for me.
This seems to be an area, where the industry must come together before enterprises can adopt one type of solution. It seems for now, enterprises should pick the best framework and tool that meets their needs. One important aspect to keep in mind is that once a tool/framework is selected. everyone should use it. variations within the enterprise at this level not only goes against a key Enterprise Architecture principle, but also is a recipe for disaster.
I would like to reflect on business process architecture. It seems that most companies have forgot this is an important part of the business. We have become so accustomed to having software applications or systems dictate our processes, that it seems we have lost the art of creating our own.
In my EA 873 class we are focusing on Business Architecture, modeling and business process management. As part of our assignments is to research how companies are using business process architecture and how mature their process are. What I am finding is that company are not investing a lot of time and energy into this area. Most companies are leaving this up to the system or software vendors to dictate process. This seems to be a very backwards way of thinking in that how would the software and or vendor know how the business is run, let alone what processes makes sense and which do not.
In some cases the business process could be a competitive advantage or business differentiator. Take the Coke Company, if they were to give away their recipe, they would be out of business. Apply that same thinking to certain business process, if companies were to use the same process they may gain that same advantage. The company I work for is manufacturing company, we use a proprietary way of manufacturing with the Surface Mount technology (SMT) machines for building our Printed Circuit Boards (PCB). If this were to get out some of our additive benefits we provide to our customers would be lost and could cost us business.
That was just one example, but they are more such as payroll processes or HR onboarding processes. If we are constantly making up the process every time we do it, think of how inefficient that is.
Picture walking into a restaurant and ordering the steak with béarnaise sauce, chopped salad and mushroom risotto. Think now that every time the chef prepares the meal, she does not follow a process. She just randomly adds the spices, she randomly prepares/cooks the food. Now you have food that doesn’t taste the same and is ready at different times. How may times do you think you would return to that restaurant?
This week I attended the Gartner Enterprise Architecture and Technology Innovation summit in Orlando. A major theme is that businesses are going digital faster each day. The more companies do nothing the further they fall behind. Businesses are going to need to understand their digital landscape and be able to react to the market with precision and decisiveness.
This new digital ecosystem that businesses will need to construct is going to be very complex and will require a comprehensive architecture program to enable the delivery of the digital platforms. The common theme I see is that most companies do not embrace business process mapping. They look to a software application or system to drive their business process and then wind up have disparencies within business integration points, not only with computer systems, but with processes as well. The trick is trying to change this mindset and culture to begin shifting employees to take control of the process and then use systems and technology to automate where possible. I struggle with this at my company. We have been successful in pocket areas of this, and maybe that is how we can eventually turn the tide, by starting with small wins and then growing the practice.
This week I would like to reflect on the operating model of a business. In my experience this critical business model is quite often not given the attention or direction it is so duly required. Most companies leave this level of decision making to leadership either in a specific business units or divisions. Giving them more lateral than they I believe they should have.
The problem with this approach is there are never any synergies across the different business units or divisions. When this is the case having a shared service, such ast IT, to support them is often quite reactive. I believe business units and divisions are given this type of autonomy because they may be doing well with bringing in money for the business; which leads to senior leadership giving more slack. Though this is good in the short term, long term it could erode the business and ultimately lead to the demise.
Defining a clear operating model for the business that all share services can execute to is key to a company becoming dynamic and agile. Enterprise architecture typically will show the value of defining the operating model and given case studies and examples of how this can be successful.
I would like to focus on the topic of foundation for execution. This week’s chapter readings point out how many companies have done leveraged technology to enable their businesses to be more responsive and streamline processes to executive with more intelligence and speed. I reflect on this because I believe this to be a competitive advantage and companies that begin to implement a solid foundation for execution will profit more over the ones that do not.
It has been my experience that companies do not know they don’t have a foundation for execution. One reason for this is that they are looking at it wrong. They see their specific department, which has a specific functions within the organization. They may have their own system that automates their processes and keeps makes their employees very efficient. However, they may not know that either their system or their processes may have direct conflict with another department within the organization. Making the handoff process cumbersome, confusing or even faulty. So they each individual department may be functioning well, the entire ecosystem is completely dysfunctional. Wasting time and money to execute. Enterprise Architecture, brings that holistic view and architecture to the enterprise to root out these types of scenarios and assists to bring completeness to the process resulting in a foundation for execution.
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