28 March, 2008

Business Architecture may help to get ISO 9001:2000 certification

The ISO standard is related to the definition and requirements of a quality management system. It helps an organization to operate with increased effectiveness, consistency and customer satisfaction and have the capability to continually improve the management system.

ISO 9001:2000 is based on eight Quality Management Principles which are comprehensive and fundamental rules of belief, for leading and operating an organization, aimed at continually improving performance over the long term, by focusing on customers, while addressing the needs of all stakeholders.

Principle 4 is referring to a “Process Approach”. The standard promotes the adoption of a process approach when developing, implementing and improving the effectiveness of the quality management system. A desired result is achieved more efficiently when activities and related resources are managed as a process.

Product realization is a system of processes by which inputs, such as raw materials or components from suppliers, are transformed through the activities of the organization, such as value added production or assembly operations, into outputs, such as products or components, which meet the needs and requirements of a customer.

Any activity or operation that receives inputs and converts them into outputs can be considered as a process. Almost all activities and operations involved in making a product or providing a service are processes.

When an Enterprise Architecture Committee receives suggestions for strategic changes, they should immediately translate those changes into changes in specific business processes. If the architecture is well-defined, changes in processes will immediately suggest changes in specific applications and databases. There are many definitions of a Business Architecture but they all refer to the definition of processes.

The business architecture is a formal documentation of the lines of business, their support functions and their relationship to each other. After the architecture has been documented, it is systematically analyzed to examine the functions (services) required by business and to align the enterprise technology with those functions.

Companies which have already documented their business architecture (baseline/as-is) may consider to have achieved a great step getting the ISO 9001:2000 certification.

13 March, 2008

Business Architecture and Capability Modeling

Capability modeling is an emerging technique for analyzing a business and modeling it in terms of its competencies. Capabilities are the building blocks of business. A business capability tipically defines what a business unit‘s purpose is, its core competencies, and is therefore directly bound to business objectives and strategy.

Capabilities provide a black-box view of those things the business can do, i.e. working on business artifacts. The business processes and resources involved in providing the capability are not exposed (business service orientation). Capabilities aren‘t isolated but form hierarchical value-networks with relationships that materialize the business processes. At a lower level, capabilities are modeled using traditional activities diagrams used for the implementation of IT solutions.

The key benefit that capability modeling provides over business process modeling is that it focuses on those elements of the business that are the most stable, and therefore facilitates the alignment with key IT initiatives, especially SOA adoption programs, which can leverage stable business concepts rather than process activities that are continuously evolving.

Outputs of capability modeling activities are direct inputs into the activities of service identification, definition and interface design (SOA).

Modeling effort should be done incrementally, with focus on key business initiatives first.

Capabilities modeling has proven to be particularly efficient in allowing to solve business issues not addressable in other ways. It also eases the deployment of business activity monitoring, providing the insight the business needs to adapt to environmental changes or identify new opportunities.

Modeling of Business Operations (Operational modeling), using UML diagrams:

Based on Business Artifacts (artifact-centered operational modeling), which requires:

  • Key Business Artifacts identification
  • Artifacts life-cycle definitions
  • Business tasks identification (BPMN modeling)
  • Repository building for artifacts
  • Flow components

05 March, 2008

Differences between IT Governance and Enterprise Architecture Governance

IT Governance is the responsibility of the board of directors and executive management of an IT department. It is an integral part of the enterprise governance and consists of the leadership and organizational structures and processes that ensure that the organization's IT sustains and extends the organization's strategies and objectives.

IT Governance ensures that
  • IT delivery expectations are fulfilled
  • IT resources deployment is continuously planned, targeted and optimized
  • IT performance is measurable
  • and that the risks are minimized

We may consider defining an IT Governance team which would care of various domains such as Project Portfolio Management, Security Management, Project Management, COBIT, SOX, Risk Management ,Service Management, ISO 9000, etc..

Enterprise Architecture Governance encompasses leadership, implementation and controlling of Business Architectures, IT Architectures (Information, Application, Technology architectures) and Solution Architectures including organizational structures (organizational units as well as processes and roles) to ensure that architecture sustains and extends the business strategy and objectives. When we implement an EA Governance, we may consider defining an Architecture Review Board which decides which IS is best suited for the needs of the enterprise, it decides when a change in the architecture is needed, and prioritizes initiatives. More detailed explanation on this other post.

To summarize Enterprise Architecture is one of the IT Governance pillars and Enterprise Architecture with its associated Governance is s subdomain.