How do organizations innovate? Taking an idea from concept to delivery requires strategic planning and the ability to execute. In the case of software development, understanding agile enterprise architecture and its relevance to DevOps is also key.
DevOps, the fusion of software development and IT operations, stems from the agile development movement. In more practical terms, it integrates developers and operations teams to improve collaboration and productivity by automating infrastructure, workflows and continuously measuring application performance.
The goal is to balance the competing needs of getting new products into production while maintaining 99.9-percent application uptime for customers in an agile manner.
To understand this increase in complexity, we need to look at how new features and functions are applied to software delivery. The world of mobile apps, middleware and cloud deployment has reduced release cycles to days and weeks not months — with an emphasis on delivering incremental change.
Previously, a software release would occur every few months with a series of modules that were hopefully still relevant to the business goals.
The shorter, continuous-delivery lifecycle helps organizations:
- Achieve shorter releases by incremental delivery and delivering faster innovation
- Be more responsive to business needs by improved collaboration, better quality and more frequent releases
- Manage the number of applications impacted by a business release by allowing local variants for a global business and continuous delivery within releases
The DevOps approach achieves this by providing an environment that:
- Minimizes software delivery batch sizes to increase flexibility and enable continuous feedback as every team delivers features to production as they are completed
- Replaces projects with release trains that minimize batch-waiting time to reduce lead times and waste
- Shifts from central planning to decentralized execution with a pull philosophy, thus minimizing batch transaction cost to improve efficiency
- Makes DevOps economically feasible through test virtualization, build automation and automated release management as we prioritize and sequence batches to maximize business value and select the right batches, sequence them in the right order, guide the implementation, track execution and make planning adjustments to maximize business value
An Approach with an Enterprise Architecture View
So far, we have only looked at the delivery aspects. So how does this approach integrate with an enterprise architecture view?
To understand this, we need to look more closely at the strategic planning lifecycle. The figure below shows how the strategic planning lifecycle supports an ‘ideas-to-delivery’ framework.
Figure 1: The strategic planning lifecycle
You can see the high-level relationship between the strategy and goals of an organization and the projects that deliver the change to meet these goals. Enterprise architecture provides the model to govern the delivery of projects in line with these goals.
However, we must ensure that any model built include ‘just-enough’ enterprise architecture to produce the right level of analysis for driving change. The agile enterprise architecture model, then, is then one that enables enough analysis to plan which projects should be undertaken and ensures full architectural governance for delivery. The last part of this is achieved by connecting to the tools used in the agile space.
Figure 2: Detailed view of the strategic planning lifecycle
The Agile Enterprise Architecture Lifecycle
An agile enterprise architecture has its own lifecycle with six stages.
Vision and strategy: Initially, the organization begins by revisiting its corporate vision and strategy. What things will differentiate the organization from its competitors in five years? What value propositions will it offer customers to create that differentiation? The organization can create a series of campaigns or challenges to solicit new ideas and requirements for its vision and strategy.
Value proposition: The ideas and requirements are rationalized into a value proposition that can be examined in more detail.
Resources: The company can look at what resources it needs to have on both the business side and the IT side to deliver the capabilities needed to realize the value propositions. For example, a superior customer experience might demand better internet interactions and new applications, processes, and infrastructure on which to run. Once the needs are understood, they are compared to what the organization already has. The transition planning determines how the gaps will be addressed.
Execution: With the strategy and transition plan in place, enterprise architecture execution begins. The transition plan provides input to project prioritization and planning since those projects aligned with the transition plan are typically prioritized over those that do not align. This determines which projects are funded and entered into or continue to the DevOps stage.
Guidelines: As the solutions are developed, enterprise architecture assets such as models, building blocks, rules, patterns, constraints and guidelines are used and followed. Where the standard assets aren’t suitable for a project, exceptions are requested from the governance board. These exceptions are tracked carefully. Where assets are frequently the subject of exception requests, they must be examined to see if they really are suitable for the organization.
Updates: Periodic updates to the organization’s vision and strategy require a reassessment of the to-be state of the enterprise architecture. This typically results in another look at how the organization will differentiate itself in five years, what value propositions it will offer, the capabilities and resources needed, and so on. If we’re not doing things the way we said we wanted them done, then we must ask if our target architectures are still correct. This helps keep the enterprise architecture current and useful.
Enterprise Architecture Tools for DevOps
DevOps can use a number of enterprise architecture solutions. For example, erwin’s enterprise architecture products use open standards to link to other products within the overall lifecycle. This approach integrates agile enterprise architecture with agile development, connecting project delivery with effective governance of the project lifecycle. Even if the software delivery process is agile, goals and associated business needs are linked and can be met.
To achieve this goal, a number of internal processes must be interoperable. This is a significant challenge, but one that can be met by building an internal center of excellence and finding a solution by starting small and building a working environment.
The erwin EA product line takes a rigorous approach to enterprise architecture to ensure that current and future states are published for a wider audience to consume. The erwin EA repository can be used as an enterprise continuum (in TOGAF terms).
Available as a cloud-based platform or on-premise, erwin EA solutions provide a quick and cost-effective path for launching a collaborative enterprise architecture program. With built-in support for such industry frameworks as ArchiMate® and TOGAF®, erwin enables you to model the enterprise, capture the IT blueprint, generate roadmaps and provide meaningful insights to both technical and business stakeholders.
According to Gartner, enterprise architecture is becoming a “form of internal management consulting,” helping define and shape business and operating models, identify risks and opportunities, and then create technology roadmaps. Understanding how vision and strategy impacts enterprise architecture is important – with an overall goal of traceability from our ideas and initiatives all the way through delivery.
Digital transformation is ramping up in all industries. Facing regular market disruptions, and landscape-changing technological breakthroughs, modern businesses must be both malleable and willing to change.
To stay competitive, you must be agile.
Digital Transformation is Inevitable
Increasing numbers of organizations are undergoing a digital transformation. The tried-and-tested yet rigid methods of doing business are being replaced by newer, data-orientated approaches that require thorough but fast analysis.
Some businesses – like Amazon, Netflix and Uber – are leading this evolution. They all provide very different services, but at their core, they are technology focused.
And they’re reaping rewards for it too. Amazon is one of the most valuable businesses in the world, perhaps one of the first companies to reach a $1-trillion valuation.
It’s not too late to adopt digital transformation, but it is too late to keep fighting against it. The tide of change has quickened, and stubborn businesses could be washed away.
But what’s the best way to get started?
Step One: Determine Your End Goal
Any form of change must start with the end in mind, as it’s impossible to make a transformation without understanding why and how.
Before you make a change, big or small, you need to ask yourself why are we doing this? What are the positives and negatives? And if there are negatives, what can we do to mitigate them?
To ensure a successful digital transformation, it’s important to plot your journey from the beginning through your end goal, understanding how one change or a whole series of changes will alter your business.
Business process modeling tools can help map your digital transformation journey.
Step Two: Get Some Strategic Support
For businesses of any size, transformational change can disrupt day-to-day operations. In most organizations, the expertise to manage a sizeable transformation program doesn’t exist, and from the outset, it can appear quite daunting.
If your goal is to increase profits, it can seem contradictory to pay for support to drive your business forward. However, a slow or incorrect transformational process can be costly in many ways. Therefore, investing in support can be one of the best decisions you make.
Effective strategic planning, rooted in enterprise architecture, can help identify gaps and potential oversights in your strategy. It can indicate where investment is needed and ensure transformative endeavors aren’t undermined by false-starts and U-turns.
Many businesses would benefit further by employing strategic consultants. As experts in their fields, strategic consultants know the right questions to ask to uncover the information you need to influence change.
Their experience can support your efforts by identifying and cataloging underlying components, providing input to the project plan and building the right systems to capture important data needed to meet the business’s transformation goals.
Step Three: Understand What You Have
Once you know where you want to go, it’s important to understand what you currently do. That might seem clear, but even the smallest organizations are underpinned by thousands of business processes.
Before you decide to change something, you need to understand everything about what you currently do, or else a change could have an unanticipated and negative impact.
Enterprise architecture will also benefit a business here, uncovering strategic improvement opportunities – valuable changes you might not have seen.
As third-parties, consultants can provide an impartial view, rather than letting historic or legacy decisions cloud future judgment.
Businesses will also benefit from data modeling. This is due to the exponential increase in the volume of data businesses have to manage – as well as the variety of disparate sources.
Data modeling will ensure data is accessible, understood and better prepared for analysis and the decision-making process.
Step Four: Collect Knowledge from Within
Your employees are a wealth of knowledge and ideas, so it’s important to involve them in the enterprise architecture process.
Consultants can facilitate a series of staff workshops to enable employee insights to be shared and then developed into real, actionable changes.
Step Five: Get Buy-in Across the Business
Once you’ve engaged with your staff to collect the knowledge they hold, make sure you don’t cut them off there. Business change is only successful if everyone understands what is happening and why, with continuous updates.
Ensure that you take your employees through the change process, making them part of the digital transformation journey.
Evidence suggests that 70 percent of all organizational change efforts fail, with a primary reason being that executives don’t get enough buy-in for new initiatives and ideas.
By involving relevant stakeholders in the strategic planning process, you can mitigate this risk. Strategic planning tools that enable collaboration can achieve this. Thanks to technological advancements in the cloud, collaboration can even be effectively facilitated online.
Take your employees through your digital transformation journey, and you’ll find them celebrating with you when you arrive at your goal.
If you think now is the right time for your business to change, get in touch with us today.
In the past, the economic value of enterprise architecture has been hard to show.
Yearly surveys routinely indicate a need for enterprise architecture (EA). CIOs often list implementing or improving an EA initiative as a top priority. Despite their position at the “top table”, CIOs are still expected to justify their plans to invest in EA (or elsewhere), based on the plan’s expected effectiveness.
In theory, the benefits of enterprise architecture should justify themselves. But the niche and expert nature of the practice means the value doesn’t always translate well to those outside of the immediate stakeholder community.
In this case, CIOs, Chief Architects, EAs and the like, need to show the economic value of enterprise architecture. But how?
The Economic Value of Enterprise Architecture
The need for enterprise architecture can be summed up by two of its main goals – aligning the business and its operations with IT, and bridging the gap between the organization’s current state, and its desired future state.
The economic value of enterprise architecture often comes as a result of nearing the ideal state of these two goals. I say nearing, as Enterprise Architecture initiatives rarely achieve perfect alignment. The two goals work against each other in this regard – success in bridging the current/future gap, creates a constantly changing landscape, and business/IT alignment has to be adjusted accordingly.
With this in mind, it could be said that the economic value of enterprise architecture is achieved in the long term, as opposed to the shorter term. That said, there are a number of markers of success that can be achieved along the way – each providing clear and tangible benefits to the organization that undoubtedly hold economic value of their own merit.
There are a number of indicators of success within EA that indicate the initiative’s economic value. Four core indicators come in the form of improving strategic planning, communication and risk evaluation, and tactical advancements. These markers can be seen as best practices in order to work towards, to fufil the overall goal of making an EA initiative an economic success.
Improving Strategic Planning
Enterprise architecture is often seen as the bridge between defining a strategy and its implementation – hence one of EAs main goals being to bridge the gap between the business’ current state, and its future.
EA adds a much needed dimension of transparency to strategy implementation. It’s often the guiding rope for implementing strategy that will affect the whole business. Because different business departments often work in silos that aren’t all completely in sync, new initiatives can suffer from a lack of foresight and lead to disparity and disconnections in data and ideas.
Enterprise architecture works as a framework to ensure no department/silo is overlooked, and that with the new strategy, each separate business arm is still working towards the same goal.
Enterprise architecture is arguably concerned with strategic planning, first and foremost. But there will always come a time when that strategy has to be communicated to the wider business for it to be successfully implemented.
The problem most businesses will find here, is that due to the holistic, top down, and all encompassing perspective EA has on the business, and the universal/inter-departmental changes any strategy EAs suggest can cause.
This is where the right enterprise architecture tool is important. Rather than just the actioning of enterprise architecture itself.
The right enterprise architecture tool can enable the various stakeholders relevant to a proposed scheme, to actually collaborate on the project to ensure the strategy works in the best interest of all parties.
In the past, enterprise architecture has been deemed as an “ivory tower” profession, catering only to the expert. This is still true to some extent, especially when talking about back end data and the repository. However, that doesn’t mean the results at the front end aren’t useful to non Enterprise Architects.
The right tool can enable true collaboration (in tool, not just reports and feedback which can slow down the process) and therefore be a great asset to line managers, C-Level executives and others as they can be a more critical part of the planning process.
All in all, this facilitating of true collaboration should improve the communication and coordination of strategy implementation, and lead to less false starts, wrong turns and a return on investment that’s both faster and more fruitful.
As well as improving the strategic planning process, enterprise architecture plays a huge role in improving processes overall. By taking a look into what is aligned, and what isn’t, EAs can uncover areas of redundancies – where two separate processes are being actioned when they could be merged into one.
There are many examples of this across varying sectors, especially when an organization has been void of EA until now, or is on the lower end of EA maturity. These businesses tend to be less aligned and so suffer from the issues typical to such situations. These issues can range from a non standardized practice for keeping and labeling data, leading to duplication and corruption, to different departments holding separate licenses for software that does essentially the same thing.
By identifying these discrepancies, enterprise architects can save an organization both time and money. Both of which hold clear economic value.
Taking Better Risks
Modern enterprise architecture is often seen as a two headed coin. One side, the Foundational side, deals with the ‘legacy’ IT-based tasks – what we refer to as keeping the lights on, keeping costs down etc. The tactical value of enterprise architecture resonates most vibrantly here.
Vanguard enterprise architecture is the other side of this coin. This more modern take on enterprise architecture was introduced to reflect ITs shift from a solely support based domain, to a role more central to the business.
Vanguard EAs are the forward thinkers, more concerned with innovating, and bridging current and future gaps in technology, than the alignment in the present. In this regard, enterprise architecture becomes a fantastic tool for evaluating risk.
Although evaluating risk can never be seen as an exact science, vanguard EAs are invaluable in that they can help indicate what strategies should, or should not be pursued based on their potential value to the business, and the costs it could take to implement them.
The Business Capability Model, for example, can indicate what a business is already suited to achieve. Therefore, they can be used to point out strategies the business might be able to implement more readily.