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MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Why business needs should shape IT architecture.
Complexity is rife in any growing business. As companies innovate, add new business, lines and products, or expand their international presence, processes proliferate and the discipline around them can go out of the window. Meanwhile the IT that underpins these processes can also become more entangled as aging legacy systems jostle with new applications to support the needs of the business. Overtime, this kind of complexity can unravel technology standards and undermine the coherence of the architectural blueprint. As application volumes grow in response, to a fast changing economic regulatory and business environment, the issue of complexity is becoming acute for many organizations. Enterprise architecture management (EAM) a frame work to manage IT architecture, and ensure that both businesses and IT are aligned aims to restore order to this landscape.
Too often, efforts to fix architecture issues remain rooted in a company’s IT practices culture and leadership. The reason in part is that the chief architect -the overall IT architecture overall leader is frequently selected from within technical ranks bringing deep IT know how but little direct experience or influence in leading a business wide change program. A weak linkage to the business creates a void that limits the quality of the resulting architecture and the organizational ability and force and sustain the benefits of implementation overtime.
A new approach to EAM lifts such change programs out of the exclusive preserve of The IT department and places them more squarely within the business. Its starts with an effort to define, the architectural design in a language the business can understand with outcomes that serve its needs more fully and efficiently, thus improving communication and helping the business and IT leadership[ to collaborate in developing the IT architecture . The wider engagement puts ownership in the hands of the end users-professionals, and thus makes it easier for the required changes to stick and improves overall governance. Companies that have taken this approach to EAM have lowered their need for architecture development, labour, by as much as 30% and reduced times to market for new applications by 50%. A close look at how one bank employed EAM in a transformation effort offers lessons to other organizations facing similar management and IT issues.
Complexity and lack of leadership.
A diversified global investment bank TSDC. Found itself wrestling with an unwieldly IT environment. Acquisitions, international expansions, and a raft of new products created a network of poly integrated and in some cases abundant systems over the years. The absence of an enforced architecture framework for developing IT worsened the problem giving rise to a varying technology standards across the business.
Each major business line operated more or less autonomously and viewed its IT needs as specialized, even in areas such as HR and finance, where shared services models are now considered best practice. The investment banking division, for example, saw itself as having little in common with other units in its core activities such as security settlement and online transactions, even though the underlying capabilities turn out to be similar across the business. As demand for custom applications spiraled so did complexity. System upgrades-are frequent occurance in the light of fast changing regulatory and market place conditions proved a major headache, given the inadequate IT architecture landscape. Although the bank had embarked on several separate EAM initiatives, these struggled to gain a footing, amid perceptions that they were too IT driven and bore only limited relevance to overall business requirements. Responsibility for the project was left to a consortium of architects across the companies global organization. Although supported by senior leadership, the architecture group lacks peer level representation in the ranks of top management. With costs and resource constraints increasing, the bank’s central IT department, struggle to make the case for change.
Rethinking the approach
The bank eventually realized that its EAM drive to stream line , simplify, and standardize global IT had gotten off to a rocky start, with an overly technical skew that seemed removed from business objectives . It therefore began a series of reforms , and three guidelines emerged.
Appoint the right person
An excessively technical orientation and a lack of wider organizational clout, among those in architecture leadership positions ruled out appointing a chief architect to lead the EAM campaign. Instead the bank defined the role more broadly, appointing its highly regarded business line CTO who already had a seat at the table, in setting strategy as well as the budgetary and decision making authority needed to lead the EAM effort.
Place business capabilities at the center.
The bank’s merger history meant that the current organization comprised very different corporate cultures and a portfolio of independent IT field domes. Unifying an improving the underlying group architecture became the EAM programs primary objectives. To achieve it and avoid past problems, the CTO conducted a series of workshops in which she brought together architecture teams from all business units to develop an architecture that would not only support local needs but also serve as an optimal solution for the company at large. A well tuned EAM efforts concentrates on a core set of business capabilities such as payroll payments or automated statement processing where efficiencies and improvements have the widest and most lasting impact. As a first step in the reform campaign, the IT department mapped the bank’s current state chatting the jumble of platforms, hardware, software and network applications in use at the time. To winnow them, the department needed to understand the key requirements for each business line. The new approach redefined the application architecture by using business domains which recruit the banks IT-data, processe3s and applications-according to the business capabilities each business line needs. The chosen domains range from client services, and product management, to transaction processing and HR and legal.
Make change sustainable
A good EAM program, uses plain business terminology to guide the development process and create a sense of business ownership. Otherwise the program may confuse or worse alienate the business audience that its changes are intended to support. In the case of one bank unit, an initiative to develop a new payment environment was rejected by board leadership. Marking the culmination of a three year effort, the proposal contained 300 GB of detailed architectural information. Despite that bulk, the presentation lacked one thing that would have made the project intuitively understandable to top managers; an executive summary telling them the overall program goals in laying out the financial and non financial benefits.
EAM provide a governance model for IT change. Like any other change initiative, It must be led from the top. To get the most out of EAM programs, organizations must define architecture standards, establish a rigorous and stable governance process and appoint people with the right skills to lead the roles.
Discuss the problems that arise when IT architecture is rooted in a company’s IT practices, culture and leadership as in the case of TSDC (10marks)
1.2. Predict the problems that TSDC would have experienced in the long term without EAM campaign (10marks)
1.3 One of the problems experienced by TSDC was that each major business line operated more or less autonomously, and viewed its IT needs as specialized. Even in areas such as HR and finance. Recommend solutions to the problems outlined above by discussing how hardware, software, and data base management systems could be used in the EAM campaigns.
1.4 Explain the roles that governance plays in TSDC initiative.