Showing posts with label enterprise architecture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label enterprise architecture. Show all posts

May 3, 2019

What Are The Chances for IT Project Success?

So I was teaching a class in Enterprise Architecture and IT Governance this week. 

In one of the class exercises, one of the students presented something like this bell-shaped distribution curve in explaining a business case for an IT Project. 

The student took a nice business approach and utilized a bell-shaped curve distribution to explain to his executives the pros and cons of a project. 

Basically, depending on the projects success, the middle (1-2 standard deviations, between 68-95% chance), the project will yield a moderate level of efficiencies and cost-savings or not. 

Beyond that:

- To the left are the downside risks for significant losses--project failure, creating dysfunction, increased costs, and operational risks to the mission/business. 

- To the right is the upside potential for big gains--innovations, major process reengineering, automation gains, and competitive advantages. 

This curve is probably a fairly accurate representation based on the high IT project failure rate in most organizations (whether they want to admit it or not). 

I believe that with:
- More user-centric enterprise architecture planning on the front-end
- Better IT governance throughout
- Agile development and scrum management in execution 
that we can achieve ever higher project success rates along the big upside potential that comes with it!  

We still have a way to go to improve, but the bell-curve helps explains what organizations are most of the time getting from their investments. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Adapted by Andy Blumenthal from here)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 30, 2018

Life Is Like A Sailboat

Planning is a critical aspect of making progress toward your goals.

As they say;
If you fail to plan, plan to fail. 

However, planning is subject to life--and life happens!

One colleague of mine compared it to a sailboat, and our dialogue went something like this:

You set out on a course. But the wind and ocean current takes you here and there. Even as you try to steer the boat with the sails and rudder, sometimes you land on Gilligan's Island!


Hence, life is like a sailboat.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 30, 2018

DMAIC Reengineering

A colleague gave a wonderful talk the other day on process engineering.

The key steps to reduce waste (Lean) or variation/defects (Six Sigma) are as follows:

Define - Scope the project.

Measure - Benchmark current processes.

Analyze - Develop to-be processes (with a prioritized list of improvements) and plan for implementation.

Improve - Executive process improvements.

Control - Monitor/refine new processes.

It was amazing to me how similar to enterprise architecture this is in terms of: defining your "current" and "future" states and creating a transition plan and executing it.

Also, really liked the Project Scoping questions:

- What problem do you want to solve/what process do you want to improve?
- Why do you need this?
- What is the benefit?  And to whom?
- What are your objectives for this effort?
- Who are the key stakeholders?
- When is this needed and why?

I think process improvement/engineering methodologies like this can be a huge benefit to our organizations, especially where the tagline is "Why should we change--we've always done it this way!" ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 28, 2018

Technology and Human Capital--They Go Hand-In-Hand

So there are some mighty impressive places to work that really shine in terms of the technology they use and the constant desire to upgrade and improve their capabilities. 

Usually, these are also the places that value and respect their human capital because they view them as not just human pawns, but rather as strategic drivers of change. 

Then there are the places that are "so operationally focused" or just plain poorly run that they can't be bothered to think about technology much at all or the people that make up the organization and its fiber. 

In many cases, the wheel may be turning, but the hamster is dead: 

There is no real enterprise architecture to speak of. 

There are no IT strategic or operational plans. 

There are no enterprise or common solutions or platforms. 

There is no IT governance or project/portfolio management. 

Even where there are some IT projects, they go nowhere--they are notions or discussion pieces, but nothing ever rolls off the IT "assembly line."

How about buying an $800 software package to improve specific operations--that gets the thumbs down too. 

Many of these executives can't even spell t-e-c-h-n-o-l-o-g-y!

It's scary when technology is such an incredible enabler that some can't see it for what it is. 

Rather to them, technology is a distraction, a threat, a burdensome cost, or something we don't have time for.

Are they scared of technology?

Do they just not understand its criticality or capability?

Are they just plain stupid? 

Anyway, organizations need to look at their leadership and ask what are they doing not only operationally, but also in terms of technology improvement to advance the organization and its mission. 

Look to the organizations that lead technologically, as well as that treat their people well, and those are ones to ogle at and model after.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

December 2, 2017

Our Forefathers Were Planners And So Are We

Thank you to Rabbi Haim Ovadia for his speech today at Magen David Synagogue on the topic of how our forefathers in the Bible were planners and so are we today. (Note: some of the thoughts below are directly from Rabbi Ovadia and others are added by me.)

In the Biblical story of Jacob, there are numerous examples teaching us the importance of planning.

1) Shepherds vs Hunters:  Jacob was a shepherd versus his brother Esau who was a hunter.  Shepherds have a long-term outlook with their animals, tending to them and caring for them over the long-term, while hunters go out for the kills to eat for that day. 

2) Working for Rachel and Leah vs. Selling the Pottage:  Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel and another 7 for Leah--this was the long-term view and commitment to work for Lavan in order to marry his daughters. In comparison, Esau came in hungry from the field and sold his birthright for the immediate gratification of a bowl of pottage.

3) The Plan to Take Esau's Blessing: Rebekah worked with Jacob to prepare meat for Isaac and put hair and clothes on Jacob that made him look and seem like Esau, so Jacob could get the blessing from Isaac, while Esau was still out hunting in the field. 

4) Dividing his Camp in Two: Jacob sent messengers (i.e. reconnaissance) to see and plan for what Esau was doing in coming to meet him. When the messengers returned with word that Esau was coming with 400 men, Jacob planned for the worst, dividing his camp in two, so should one peril the other could survive. Additionally, Jacob prayed and sent rounds of gifts to Esau and also presented himself to Esau before his beloved wife Rachel and son Joseph in the safety of the rear. 

Long-term planning has been fundamental to the Jewish people throughout history and to modern times:

1) "People of the Book" - The Jewish people are known as "the people off the book" for the devotion to Torah study, learning, and continually investing in education, which is a view for long-term investment and success.   

2) Good Deeds to Inherit The World To Come - Fundamental to Jewish belief is that this earthly world is just a "corridor" to the World to Come.  We do charity and good deeds, not only because it's the right thing to do (certainly!), but also because we believe that these merits will help us long-term when we pass, and go to the spiritual next world, Heaven. 

3) Believing and Praying for the Return to The Promised Land - For 2,000, the Jewish people never gave up hoping and praying on the deliverance of G-d's promise to return them from exile to the Promised Land.  This was a long-term view that helped sustain the Jewish people throughout their far-flung exile and through millennium of persecution and genocide.
Ezekiel 11:17: "Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel."
4) Waiting 6,000 years for the Messiah: For 6,000 years, the Jews have maintain faith and plan for the coming of the Messiah, the rebuilding of the Temple and the ultimate redemption of the world.  
"(Ani Ma'amin) I believe in complete faith in the coming of the Messiah...Even tough he may tarry, none-the-less, I will wait for him."
Like our forefathers, it is critical to maintain faith in the Almighty and practice long-term planning as keys to success in life. 

If we take the long-view, we can overcome so many short-term challenges, obstacles and even suffering--believing, praying planning, and doing for a better, brighter future. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

October 6, 2017

People, Process, and Technology Lifecycles

The table describes the alignment of the various people, process, and technology lifecycles commonly used in Information Technology to the CIO Support Services Framework (CSSF).

The CIO Support Services Framework describes the six key functional roles of the Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO)--it includes:

1) Enterprise Architecture (Architect)
2) Capital Planning and Investment Control (Invest)
3) Project Management Office (Execute)
4) CyberSecurity (Secure)
5) Business Performance Management (Measure)
6) IT Service (and Customer Relationship) Management (Service)

All these OCIO Functions align to the lifecycles for process improvement (Process), project management (People), and systems development (Technology).

- The Deming Life Cycle describes the steps of total quality management and continuous process improvement (Kaizen) in the organization.

- The Project Management Life Cycle describes the phases of managing (IT) projects.

- The Systems Development Life Cycle describes the stages for developing, operating and maintaining application systems.

Note: I aligned cybersecurity primarily with doing processes, executing projects, and designing/developing/implementing systems.  However, cybersecurity really runs through all phases of the lifecycles!

My hope is that this alignment of people, process, and technology life cycles with the roles/functions of the OCIO will help bridge the disciplines and make it easier for people to understand the underlying commonalities between them and how to leverage the phases of each with the others, so that we get more success for our organizations! ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 30, 2017

Strategy, Strategery, Stratego

Like the all knowing eye...

Strategy is our way of trying to forge a coherent path ahead. 

Of course, as humans, we are imperfect and don't know what we don't know. 

But whether we call it strategy, strategery, or stratego, the goal is to have a method to our madness. 

We can't just rely on luck, gut, intuition, or subjective whim to get us wherever. 

Having no strategy is brainless following or aimless wandering. 

Strategy means your thinking ahead what you want to achieve and then at least trying your best to accomplish something. 

Ample course corrections allowed and encouraged, as needed. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 29, 2017

Crosshair Planning And National Security

So I wanted to share this amazing crosshair diagram...

Not because we currently have North Korea in the crosshairs before they hit us with a nuclear-tipped ICBM.

But rather for how this diagram can be used in strategic planning and enterprise architecture. 

The way this is used is the following:

First, you put your goals in the inner quadrants (or other such division of the inner circle).  For example, perhaps you have a goal to reduce your weight which is now 215 lbs. 

Next you create concentric rings around your goals with each ring representing a time horizon. For example, the first ring could be 6 months, the 2nd ring 1 year, and so on. 

Then for each timeframe in the rings, you put what your target is for that related goal. For example, maybe in 6 months you want to reduce your weight to 210, and then by end of year 1 to 205.

In this way, you can easily show your goals as well your targets over various time frames into the future. 

You can similarly use the other quadrants (or other divisions of the circle) for other goals emanating from the center to the future targets. 

Of course, you can also use this for North Korea--to target above the 38th parallel for dropping a good deals MOABs to clear the enemy and their nukes and missiles from threatening the U.S. and our allies.  The same solution goes for Axis of Evil, Iran, and their endless spread of global terrorism and human rights abuses. 

Targets are for restoring the peace and for strategic planning and these two intersect when it's comes to national security. ;-)

(Source Diagram: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 22, 2016

Good IT Gone Bad

So over and over again, good IT goes bad in a flawed decision-making process. 

Even with the best laid plans and governance processes in place, somehow decisions get politicized, go bad, and projects fail. 

Here are some of the popular reasons why this happens:

1) Someone has something to prove - Often their is a person incoming to power who wants to show off what they can do. Instead of focusing on what is best for the organization's mission and people, they put themselves first. IT becomes not a tool for efficiency and effectiveness, but rather as some project rushed through for someone's resume and narcissist career progression. Time to add another notch on your IT belt!

2) Someone used it, saw it, or heard of it someplace else - So why follow a structured decision-making and vetting process for new technology, when Joe Schmoe already has the answer of what we can use and what we should do. Perhaps, Joe Schmoe used the technology in another place and for another reason, but that's what he knows and instantaneously, he's the maven, subject matter expert. Or maybe, Joe Schmoe attended a vendor conference or read a trade mag on the airplane and now he is guess what, the all-knowing on the topic. Get ready to pull out your wallets to pay for the wrong thing for your needs and organization, but it's okay becuase Joe Schmoe assured you it's great!

3) Someone wants to use technology like a Swiss army utility knife - Let's just buy this amazing tool; it can slice, dice, chop, mince, or Julienne; actually there is nothing this IT tool can't do. Buy it and use it for all your technology projects and needs. Why buy specialized tools, when you can have one that does everything--it will be your data warehouse, cloud provider, handle all your transactions, and be your artificial intelligence all in one.  Don't worry about the complexity, integration, training, support or how good it does any specific thing--just trust us!

In general, it shouldn't be so easy for leadership to get sold and fooled by the wrong people with the wrong agendas. Yet, these things seem to take off like a speeding locomotive, and if anyone tries to step in front of it, career splat for some unfortunate well-meaning character!

Some leaders and organizations only seem to learn by making the same IT mistakes again and again--it's costly to their mission and to their stakeholders, but someone is making out like a bandit and it's on their dime. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

October 11, 2016

On the Lookout To Managing Risk

So risk management is one of the most important skills for leadership. 

Risk is a function of threats, vulnerabilities, probabilities, and countermeasures. 

If we don't manage risk by mitigating it, avoiding it, accepting it, or transferring it, we "risk" being overcome by the potentially catastrophic losses from it.

My father used to teach me when it comes to managing the risks in this world that "You can't have enough eyes!"

And that, "If you don't open your eyes, you open your wallet."

This is a truly good sound advice when it comes to risk management and I still follow it today. 

Essentially, it is always critical to have a backup or backout plan for contingencies.

Plan A, B, and C keeps us from being left in the proverbial dark when faced with challenge and crisis. 

In enterprise architecture, I often teach of how if you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail. 

This is truth--so keep your eyes wide open and manage risks and not just hide your head in the sand of endless and foolhardy optimism for dummies. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 25, 2016

Cherry Blossom Sky

What beautiful weather we are having this time of year.

Just loved this gorgeous Cherry Blossom tree with the white leaves against the pale blue sky. 

Almost looks like snow flakes, but thank G-d those are gone now. 

All this nature is sort of the opposite of work, but on my mind is this quote that I heard this week:


_____________


"Plan the work

AND

Work the plan"

_____________

It's simple, but gets right to the point of the necessity of planning and then executing on the plan.

I like the gorgeous nature and this smart saying.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

February 21, 2016

Random Luck My A*s

Here's an interesting enterprise architecture themed fortune cookie. 

"Good luck is the result of good planning."

Everybody wants good fortune, but a big differentiator is whether you are willing to think through life's scenarios, pull together a solid plan (A, B, and C to be on the safe side) and put in the effort and hard work to achieve your dreams and goals.

Fortunes rise and fall likes the tides, but a solid plan (with G-d's blessings) can take you further than any ocean spans.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

January 10, 2016

Enterprise Architecture - Make The Leap

Another good depiction of enterprise architecture.

What we are, the divide, and what we want to be.

We have to make the leap, but only with good planning and decision-making governance. 

Otherwise, it's a long fall down the project failure abyss. 

Faith is always important, but so it doing your credible part. ;-)

(Source Photo: Via Instagram)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 13, 2015

| Go With A Winning Strategy |

So there was an office discussion the other day about something having a "checkered past."

And one of my colleagues said wisely about it, "I rather play chess!"

I though it was a smart retort, since chess is a game of strategy versus checkers, which is more a game of luck. 

Checkers is by far the more one-dimensional game with each piece moving or jumping in a similar fashion, while in chess, you deploy specific types of pieces (king, queen, rook, bishop, night, or pawn) for different manuevers. 

In life, when we deal with things that are especially challenging, double-edged, tricky, or plain dangerous, we need to handle it with a well-thought-out game plan and a solid strategy.

Having a plan and maintaining agility in dealing with the "facts on the ground" as they unfold is by far the better problem-solving approach than just trying to jump over the other guys pieces or block his next move. 

Chess in the only way to get to checkmate ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Florls Looijesteijn)
Share/Save/Bookmark

January 18, 2015

Governance, Pay Attention

So I chose this photo to represent bad governance. 

The governing board covers their ears, eyes, and mouth.

Because they hear and see no evil and speak no truth. 

They are deaf, blind, and dumb--they provide no real oversight. 

Simply choosing to collect their pay checks and stock options for residing on the governance board.

This is their payoff--not to govern--but rather to shut up and stay out of it!

I read a good overview of what governance is supposed to be and comparing it to management functions (Reference: Exam Preparation Course in a Book for Passing the CISM):

  • "Oversight versus Implementation
  • Assigning Authority versus Authorizing action
  • Enacting policy versus Enforcing policy
  • Accountability versus Responsibility
  • Strategic planning versus Project planning
  • Resource allocation versus Resource utilization"

When the board does their job, then the organization has a business strategy, manages risks, allocates resources, delivers value, and measures and monitors performance. 

In other words, no more acting like a bunch of out of control monkeys. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

June 10, 2014

I Like That Technology

Christopher Mims in the Wall Street Journal makes the case for letting employees go rogue with IT purchases.

It's cheaper, it's faster, "every employee is a technologist," and those organizations "concerned about the security issues of shadow IT are missing the point; the bigger risk is not embracing it in the first place."


How very bold or stupid? 


Let everyone buy whatever they want when they want--behavior akin to little children running wild in a candy store. 


So I guess that means...


  • Enterprise architecture planning...not important.
  • Sound IT governance...hogwash.
  • A good business case...na, money's no object.
  • Enterprise solutions...what for? 
  • Technical standards...a joke.
  • Interoperability...who cares? 
  • Security...ah, it just happens!

Well, Mims just got rids of decades of IT best practices, because he puts all his faith in the cloud.

It's not that there isn't a special place for cloud computing, BYOD, and end-user innovation, it's just that creating enterprise IT chaos and security cockiness will most-assuredly backfire. 


From my experience, a hybrid governance model works best--where the CIO provides for the IT infrastructure, enterprise solutions, and architecture and governance, while the business units identify their specific requirements on the front line and ensure these are met timely and flexibly.


The CIO can ensure a balance between disciplined IT decision-making with agility on day-to-day needs. 


Yes, the heavens will not fall down when the business units and IT work together collaboratively. 


While it may be chic to do what you want when you want with IT, there will come a time, when people like Mims will be crying for the CIO to come save them from their freewheeling, silly little indiscretions. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

March 30, 2014

Corporate Dictators Gone Wild

Interesting book review in the Wall Street Journal on Moments of Impact--corporate strategy meetings. 

The authors, Ertel and Solomon, see strategy meetings as critical for "to confront radical challenges" "cope with fast-changing threats", and confront competition.


It is an opportunity to:


- Look at the big picture, including industry trends.


- Hear different points of view from as broad array of perspectives as possible (instead of the usual "fences and silos" that prevail in corporate life).


- Decide to change ("Creative Adaptation") or to stay with tried and true strategies ("stick to their knitting").


The book reviewer, Adrian Woolridge, though has a much more skeptical view of these strategy sessions calling them "dull, unstructured time-sucks" and "more often than not, [they're] a huge waste of time":


Why?


- They produce "airy-fairy nonsense."


- Rather than abandoning the corporate hierarchy, the sessions anchor in "status hierarchy."


- Outside strategy "experts" brought in "are nothing more than cliche-mongers."


- The "games" are silly and non-impactful.


- Often rather than strategic conversations, we get "lazy consensus," where decisions are driven by senior managers with a bone to pick or a reorganization in mind.


What's the truth...as usual, somewhere in between these 2 states of idealism and cynicism.


We can choose to take planning seriously to bring people together to solve problems creatively and gain consensus and commitment or we can use strategy as bogus cheerleading sessions and to manipulate the sheep to do what the seniors already know they want.


If we really work as a team to press forward then we can accomplish great things through our diversity and strength, but if strategy is nothing but corporate dictators gone wild, then the cause is already lost to the competition.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

November 7, 2013

The Difference Between Planning and Reality

Wow, I really love this graphic.

The top are our plans, along with our hopes and dreams that we get to where we want to, in a basically smooth, straight line--no troubles, no fuss--whoola success!


The bottom is our reality, where we work our way towards our target goals (which we may, or more likely not, ever fully achieve) and that along the way, we encounter all sort of life's tests and challenges--it's an uphill climb, but with tangible achievements and milestones, as we progress. 


If it was as easy as the top--it probably wouldn't be worth doing. 


The challenges test our mettle--and what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger. 


Even so, sure wish I could get some wings and jets on that bicycle. ;-)


Thank you sis for sharing this with me.


(Source Photo: here from DogHouseDiaries)

Share/Save/Bookmark

October 31, 2013

Pain is Relative

I've always found it a little strange when the doctor (or nurse) asks you, "On a scale of 0 to 10, how much pain are you in?"

Why?

Because pain (like many emotions) is relative to our understanding of it. 

To me, when someone says a 10 for pain, I think of someone under the most excruciating pain--like when someone, G-d forbid, is being tortured. 

However, someone else may think of 10 as just being really sick and uncomfortable. 

That's why I like this graphic that is used to level-set what each number in the scale represents. 

Using this simple graphic, our definition of pain is not purely subjective, but rather each person can look at the faces and expressions and see how they relate to them. 

Of course, the goal on the right for zero pain is a great goal, even if not always achievable. 

In a sense this is a very basic personal architecture--where you have your "as-is" on the scale and your "to-be" which is your goal. 

Then the doctor and patient work together to figure out a transition plan on how to get there (medicine, rehabilitation, healthier living, etc.). 

While pain is usually just a symptom, it is a beginning to get at the root cause of what is bothering us and needs to be fixed. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 1, 2013

Do You Really Want As-Is?

Classic enterprise architecture is figuring out how to move from the current/as-is state to the target/to-be state. 

Generally, anything "as-is" is viewed as legacy, old hat, probably not in the best condition anymore--and it's going without any implied warranties or guarantees as to it's condition.

Hence, at the local IKEA store, when I saw the "as-is" section for 50% off, I was like hey that's right, the "as-is" is good if we want a bargain, but there is usually something wrong with it, and that's why "all sales are final". 

If we want "the good stuff," you don't generally go to the "as-is," but you want to buy stuff for the "to-be," the target state, that you want your place to look like or what you really want to have--and guess what--that is full price!

You can architect your enterprise, yourself, or society for the momentary as-is--but is doesn't last long, because it's outdated, shabby, worn, and maybe even missing some critical parts already. 

That's why you want to architect for the future--for the to-be--with all the working parts, new and shinny, and geared to tackle the market conditions with innovation, functional strength and a design that is ready to turn heads. 

You can save money staying with the as-is, but you'll be getting what you paid for and will be falling behind for another cycle--if you survive. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark