Category Archives: Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise Architecture- Building the core model

One challenge often faced by organizations is that IT is often reactive rather than guiding the operations. You bring in IT once you face a problem and build an IT solution. Once solution is build, struggle starts to integrate with other parts/ applications. A lot of time is than spent on making different pieces work together, which can be avoided if proper EA practices are in place.

Ideally, IT should look at the system and come up with opportunities of improving existing system like automating ordering system and adding new services like moving to mobile platforms.

IT and Business can than prioritize the solutions/ projects based on value addition. Having a big picture in front, it will be easier to take decisions and less time will be spent in making things communicate and work with each other.

Building a core model is important so that newer services can easily gets integrated. For example if centralized data handling and services to share data securely are already in place, getting a new mobile app to market is much easier than in a scenario where we do not have any such centralized solution in place already.

Creating the core IT model is not easy. You need to take a call what to keep as core and what should be customizable. As a rule of thumb, identify what is fixed and what can be changed/ customized in your business. Based on this information, we need to design which part of design is fixed and which is flexible. For example, in a particular business, product information might be centralized but sales can be customized.

In addition, core model need to take care of that fact which processes can be standardized and what data will be centralized and shared. More-

Enterprise Architecture- Manage your data and processes

Any Enterprise architecture needs to take care of two important things, processes and data. A standardized process makes sure certain operations are done in a certain way no matter who is performing them. Data ofcourse is a very important part for any organization, it helps in every aspect of business from fulfilling sales orders, maintaining inventory, making decisions for future etc. So it is important that data is shared across units in effective and secured manner.

Based on the business, need for data sharing and process standardization might vary. We know a standard process adds to predictability (less flexible = agile) but might not work in cases where innovation and flexibility is needed, for example in sales or research. So if we are looking at a business like McDonald’s, we know that each unit needs to follow similar process. Hence process will be part of my core architecture. But in case we are dealing with a Insurance sales business, where each unit might need a different strategy, we will not be be standardizing the process to detail level.

Similarly, decisions needs to taken on centralization of data. For example in a car manufacturing and sales unit, it is important to keep data on inventory, sales, production in sync. Whereas, for an insurance company, it might need flexibility of keeping car insurance and personal insurance data separately. Though you might need to keep products available information at common place. Nonetheless, the data definitions should be strict through out the organization, a completed sales mean same in all aspects.

Based on decisions made as per above analysis, we will be able to create our core architecture effectively. We will know what to add to core and what to keep flexible. The good core design will help business in maintainability and scalability. Adding a new business unit (or a new product or service) and integrating to existing business will depend on readiness of architecture we have finalized.