JISC Enterprise Architecture Practice Group Workshop 5 – 5/6 April 2011 #jiscfsd

The Orangery, Goldney Hall, University of Bristol – slightly different setting to the last one in Liverpool, lawns and ponds and shrubs and towers and stuff.

‘Reality Bites – EA and the Mainstream’ is the theme for the day. Great turnout, so hoping to get bitten.

Tim Phillips – Director of IT Services, Bristol. Looking at all support processes for efficiency gains. Reduce admin workload of academics. Standardisation. Customer service – focus of IT services provision. Introduced concept of process owner. Professionalisation. All needs to be supported by right systems. All systems developments to be based on EA.

Governance structure – main focus looking at business processes; very good at reviewing, maybe not so good at prioritisation. Well, that is the hard part!

How to have the conversation – know your audience.

Next – David Rose, where are we now as a practice group? My version of the words, but – prior to EAPG we were like a competitive bunch of argumentative magpies, now we are a skein of geese collaboratively coordinating flight across blue skies – thank you David!

So then my bit on governance & maturity models, seemed to get the discussion going – topped off with something from the guvnor (Samuel Beckett): ‘Ever tried, ever failed, no matter. Try again, fail again, fail better’ (Worstward Ho, 1983) – serious point being that you can’t get this right, so don’t agonise, doing it as well as you can is better than not doing it all. Followed by a quick run through on our Weill & Ross based governance structure.

Patrick O’Reilly/Bolton – interesting analysis based on Weill & Ross about where decisions get made. Have new committee in place – but doesn’t get rid of the bunfights! Politics, personalities & positioning always have a place – as does alliteration, of course. Governance group that wants to micro manage – wanting to know details of projects, sounds familiar. Can be easier to get embedded in the detail than focus on strategic decision-making.

Luke Taylor – Bristol. Again identified prioritisation as a problem – certainly something I’m struggling with at the moment in sorting out our revised project portfolio. Governance process: big systems projects; small, simple initiatives – things that don’t need heavyweight project management but still need resources/prioritisation (sounds a bit like our Developments Without Architecture process).

Next session: my Governance challenge. Paul Allatt/Imperial: EA internal to ICT – how do we engage with higher management? Nathalie Czechowski/Coventry: lots of governing boards, now board of boards, too complex/political, what kind of structure should I recommend? Kenton Wheeler/Southampton Solent: established systems governance, how to move to services governance? Can be a challenge determining the right level of granularity at which to define services – damn right! Cherry pick ITIL for useful techniques.

What is needed, imho, is for HEIs to see themselves as service organisations – which is not always/necessarily the case, & quite possibly shouldn’t be the case in respect of all aspects, although actually you should be able to describe anything as a service to someone, so already I disagree with myself. Point is, if the organisation doesn’t see itself as delivering services, why would it want services governance?

John King/Roehampton – Just Enough EA/Just Enough TOGAF. A difficult one – what to publish/what format/what objective/what audience? General view – a good thing; better than reading the TOGAF manual!; needs more warts’n’all. To me, might be better to build it up from blog posts – but then, not everyone likes blogging…

Ceri Davies – ning looks like a good idea. EAPG certainly needs a community site if it’s going to continue effectively.

Which – following the presentation of certificates to attendees who had completed the EA Foundation Programme – was the final session of the day; with all the imminent changes in funding/at JISC, whither now for the EAPG? All agreed that it was a successful community that should continue, but work will be needed to find a home. To be continued.

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