Enterprise Architecture – The Organisation Business Plan
The purpose of this set of articles is to present my own view on Enterprise Architecture (EA), the roles of the Enterprise Architect and the discipline Architects, what EA does, what EA means and why you should know this – or sections of it - already.....
This particular article loosely targets capturing the ethos of an organisation and how it goes about carrying out its functions. It is the starting point for the creation of an Enterprise Architecture.
If you asked the average person on the street why an organisation exists, the majority of answers would focus on a phrase revolving around making money. Not an unrealistic response but in truth the majority of organisations or businesses exist to provide a service of one form or another. There are many 'not for profit' companies in the world who are not there to ‘make money’ but they are still organisations and still have to deliver a service of some kind. The ability to ‘make money’ is a by-product of the organisation carrying out this service provision successfully, effectively and efficiently and by delivering services that a consumer or end-user needs and is willing to pay for.
Practically any organisation worth its salt will know which of its services are working and which are not. It will have consulted its stakeholders and its own staff through forums, internal and external questionnaires, round-table events, user or stakeholder groups and the like and the outcomes will have fed back up the management chain for consumption, challenge and debate. Decisions will then be made on what needs to change at the organisation level to improve things - and every organisation needs to have this point as its prime focus.
An organisation will only ever have one person in charge. This could be a Chairman, a Managing Director, a Chief Executive – the terms are endless but there will only be one person with the final say. Of course, there will be committees, boards and the like where all things are discussed but once the consensus has been reached or the casting vote decided, that nominal head person will state ‘this is what has been jointly decided’ and everyone gets behind those policies. At least that is how it is done in well-managed organisations and should be the goal of all others. If this information is not communicated effectively then by the time is has passed down through various management levels - collecting personal agendas and various elements of spin on the way, the ground troops will effectively be working from hearsay and rumour.
However, by creating and publishing the organisational business plan of changes and improvements, setting out where an organisation is heading over the next X years or so, it is communicating a roadmap for all members of staff and all existing and potentials clients/stakeholders of that organisation at a point in time. The business plan explains how the organisation currently conducts its business and how this may change over the time period. It sets out what may have influenced the business plan to have changed from previous communications, what principles have been adopted that has led to the new business plan. It also highlights what the potential implications are to the organisation, its staff and its stakeholders because of the changes. The document will additionally contain, the most important aspect in a way, the goals and actions that the organisation will be taking, at a high level, to meet the new business plan.
In one action, the organisation has communicated to all interested parties, from the top management down to the floor sweeps, from the single user of its services to the multi-national corporate account users, its roadmap for the near to mid future thereby eradicating much confusion and giving a single direction to all. From this point on, everything that occurs within this organisation should be aligned to, meeting or addressing one or more of the strategies, goals and objectives lain out within that business plan. Nothing should be unexpected as EVERYONE has been involved and consulted on its makeup.
For an Enterprise Architect this is one of the key documents in their arsenal. The Business Plan can be read and dissected in many ways with numerous sub-documents extrapolated and analysed.
By creating an ‘as is’ model of the organisation as it stands and a ‘to be’ model from the Business Plan, the goals and objectives can be drawn out independently, listed and prioritised. The organisation can then create and document the necessary strategies appropriate for meeting these objectives and achieving the goals set.
This key set of activities track an ever-moving position, reviewed annually, and in future iterations of the Business Plan the 'as is' and the 'to be' architecture model becomes a major input.
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