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The Value of Strategic IT Planning and Enterprise Architecture

When you mull through projects charters and project implementations research shows that 80% of the projects do not get implemented correctly as they fail to bring value added return or accommodate in furthering the long term interests of the organization.

From a journal I read the Dept. of Homeland security demonstrated that EA methodologies can be used to push IT strategic planning efforts, the idea was to collaborate architects wit the SMO...strategic management office or as in some organizations known as the strategic planning office.  The architects share willings the data structures, flow of information and show metrics to the planners as how value is added or will be added .

Developing EA using spreadsheets and project management tools, power point presentations is a thing of the past and sophisticated planning tools that are available today take IT planning to a new level where IT is no longer support function but a tool for strategic implementation and forecasting.  A good EA implementation will allows the senior management, program managers and project managers to look at a dashboard early morning based upon the permissions they are assigned to see a bunch of windows or dials that show the core projects, processes, ROI's, performance indicators, emails that are high priority synced to updates and status's of programs and projects. Not just this but with the hands on ability for decision makers on the dials to control and change the parameters that one is entitled to leverage the performance of the organization. CIOs, Program Managers, Capability Portfolio Managers, operators, engineers and financial management personnel can customize their own dashboards to have daily insights from the EA so that information is integrated from all sections, domains and activities of the organization. Maybe I am dreaming, but if all your core processes are defined along with the costs assigned and measurable objectives to achieve a proper EA implementation should be able to achieve this. EA then becomes an empowering tool.

Another value EA can bring to the entire strategic planning process may be optimizing performance in cyclical data mining, this may mean tying databases to relevant architectures but identifying iterative normalizing activities to present data in a timely manner in short integrating intelligence into data. For example in the last company that I worked for the CEO was always interested in answering the question 'Why' the volumes for a given country went down for a given quarter and how did it compare to last year or another favorite of his question was if we gave this much volume to this company where we didn't have a presence how much was the reciprocity from that company where they didn't have presence. If volume of shipments fell what alerts should be given to Sales Team or the Program Manager, Regional Manager and at any given time the 'CEO' should be able to dial in or alerted of this information. I say 'dialing' in rather than 'drilling in' because drilling in for information though presently done in most of the companies, data now needs to served up with on-spot intelligence built into them. An application’s ability to customize the front end view to suit the needs of the echelon stakeholder is supremely important to getting the maximum value out of the EA.

Of course very few organizations are able to do this but my observation is this - a business that clearly identifies its activities and the one that is able  to relate those activities with goals, mission and purpose are able to successfully implement EA and integrate it for Strategic Planning. This also helps in maintaining a living architecture for accomplishing accurate up to date analysis from the metadata of your enterprise. This brings up the point that time and resources (and that can be cost intensive but well worth it) will establish the credibility and accuracy of the EA implementation/integration with strategic planning function.

My Final Comments on the Issue.

Bottom line value addedness (its not word but I want to use it ...its my blog) should not be the only objective of EA implementation but it is a major part of it, as a stakeholder not only the ROI should show that EA implementation outweighs the expense of creating and maintaining it but show its a long term investment which has impact in quality of all processes. Ultimately a mature, well-administered EA has the potential to facilitate a vision and affect positive changes in programs, policies, resources, and schedules, providing unilateral continuity, and saving time and resources while building a more capable enterprise. If done right, the enterprise architecture used for strategic IT planning will help answer questions before they are asked.


Sam Kurien


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