Category Archives: Open Group

Digging a hole with Enterprise Architecture #entarchs

Some Sunday morning rambling & a couple of old Dilbert cartoons which may be pertinent & should at least be a amusing…


So, you know the scenario. You’re in there with the senior management team & they want an answer to the question: why should we invest in this thing called Enterprise Architecture?

& the answer is: I dunno; or, you tell me; or maybe, you shouldn’t.

Because they are, of course, asking the wrong question. They should be saying: how do we improve our customer experience? Or, how do we reduce the cost of procurement? Or, how do we decide what we could target as shared services? Or…a thousand other critical business questions. To any or all of which EA may be part of the answer.

But you’ve been invited along to a meeting to explain why they need EA. So you’ve come to the wrong meeting.

& because they’re asking the wrong question, you’ll probably have to give them the wrong answer.

& you can’t directly tell them they’re asking the wrong question. Well, go for it if you feel like it. After all, they’re only senior management…

There’s a lot of discussion in EA circles about how exactly do we sell EA to senior management? & the answer is, of course, you don’t.

You don’t sell someone a spade if they don’t know they need to dig a hole. At least, I hope not – don’t want to be in the snake oil business. So senior management need to know what problems EA will solve, or what new opportunities EA can open up – they need to see what bigger better hole they can dig (themselves into?) with this shiny new implement (maybe not the best analogy, then, but you have to start somewhere).

So EA isn’t always the answer – it depends on the question, & you have to make sure the right questions are being asked then you can make sure you have the right answers.

So in that meeting, you need to get them to ask the right questions – ‘I dunno’ may be a pretty good first answer – followed by, you tell me what you need to do, & then I’ll tell you if EA can help you do it. Or, maybe not…because…

If you’re an Enterprise Architect, you might think EA is always the answer, or at least part of it – & I agree, you’re probably right. But the best way to test a hypothesis is to assume that you’re wrong – & maybe the customer doesn’t really need to dig a hole, at least, not until they’ve chopped down that tree. Great thing about EA is, it’s more like a Swiss Army knife than an axe or a spade – but if the customer only wants to dig that hole or chop down that tree, some kind of multitool might seem like overkill. So, find that hole that needs digging, use EA to help it get dug, & then…



UCISA Enterprise Architecture Community of Practice Start Up Meeting

2nd May 2013: a group convened at Liverpool John Moores University to discuss the setting up of a UCISA Enterprise Architecture Community of Practice (EACP).

Following work by Luke Taylor & the UCISA-CISG, & commissioned by the UCISA Executive, the objective of the meeting: to baseline where we were up to with EA, and work out how this Community of Practice thing was going to operate, as it’s a bit of a new departure for UCISA & those previously involved in the JISC EA Practice Group. Representatives from 8 institutions, JISC InfoNet & the Open Group, and facilitated by Richard Chapman, of Richard Chapman Consulting.

This is a picture of where we started:


I’m not going to do a blow by blow account of the day, as that will come out in due course, but just wanted to highlight a few things that were key or of interest for me.

  • Baselining EA. Various people were not surprisingly at various stages, although there were common themes: how to keep up momentum, how to convince the business, how to get resources. Participants were asked to come up with ‘twEAts’ (140 characters about EA on a postit – thank you David Rose of the Open Group for that one, bit close to our great Prime Minister’s comments about what too many tweets make…). These got quite zen-like in parts – particularly this offering from Patrick O’Reilly/Bolton: ‘the curate has a fresh egg, but no eggcup, spoon and is waiting for a chance to eat’. I thought we might have invented Zen EA – but then discovered this: ‘Zen and The Art of Enterprise Architecture (Open Group Conference Newport Beach 2013)’ – although I may be being a little unfair, having not viewed it in detail, at 83 slides, some of dazzling complexity, I’m not sure this is in the spirit of Zen, or even EA…
  • Building a Community of Practice. Lots of interesting discussion on this, which will be rolled up in a wiki & considered further – but for me, the main issue was around leadership. The key objective of the EACP is to become self-sustaining – to not need a leader, or a Chair, or single person or even small group who keep it all going – leading to the usual leaders/followers scenario. Seems like a kind of variation on situational leadership – the idea that there is no one best leadership style, but that leadership is adaptive to the situation – which in some situations may mean following. So perhaps we have situational leadership & followership as well. For the EACP I would envisage a scenario where individuals would either lead or follow depending on the situation – which I think is what I’ve just said. Or to sum up, ‘We are all leaders now’.

Which is about all for the moment – the EACP is a work in progress & progress on this first day was excellent, we have actions, ideas for how to work, deadlines & all manner of good stuff, including the all important hash tag (#UCISA_EA) – so thanks to all the participants & also Richard Chapman for his great facilitation, kept us almost both on time & under control!

Also worth a look at Dave Berry from Edinburgh’s post on the same event.

& here’s a picture of where we finished:


UCISA Enterprise & Service Oriented Architectures Seminar Part 3

Dreams & Realities: City University’s registration project; Christopher Roper (IBM) & John Gallagher (CTU)

Very much a technical/SOA-based presentation. SITS/SAP/WebCT; IBM middleware; BPMN.  Online registration: interesting comment, doesn’t like the name because the student online bit is only about 10% of the process, the rest of what leads to a fully registered student is in other services. Relevant as perspective on LJMU online registration. Very detailed on the technical models of service delivery – not really my thing. Architecture built around systems rather than business processes. Too focused on IBM, SAP & in particular Tribal – I haven’t the faintest idea what half the acronyms mean. Neither has Google. Lessons learnt good but lost in the detail/too late.

Enterprise Architecture & the Flexible Service Delivery Programme: David Rose (Open Group) & Andy Jordan (Duke & Jordan).

There is no one right way to do EA/SOA. Get with the programme!

UCISA Enterprise & Service Oriented Architectures Seminar part 1

16th September, attending the above in Cardiff – great turn out, must be around seventy people, around forty institutions represented, would have been less than half that a year ago. Good news in terms of creating a head of steam.

First presentation – Chris Cobb, PVC Roehampton, giving the overview in an HE context, excellent as always. Some discussion ref how to sell EA/how difficult it is to sell something with only a long-term payback – not necessarily the case, tactical EA, using EA to understand what you’ve got now & exploit it better.

Next Hugh Griffiths, Griffiths-Waite – Oracle SOA Partner. Lot of good tips on approaches/models etc. My concern is around the language – the continuing references to the IT-Business divide. The lessons of Appreciative Inquiry are relevant here – the language influences/creates the direction. We should talk about EA as a means of getting better information systems & services support for the business, not as a means to ‘align business & IT’ or ‘heal the business IT divide’. Words like ‘align’ & ‘divide’ suggest that there is a problem to be fixed (which may be true, but that’s not the point) rather than a better future to be built – plus the usual point about IT being part of the business not separate from it, at least I hope so, we should have moved on from this by now. & don’t get me started on Governance!

Also, ref EA/SOA maturity models – the question surely isn’t ‘are we succeeding with SOA/EA?’ but ‘do our information systems effectively support our current operations & strategic direction?’.  If the answer is yes, maybe we don’t need to do EA/SOA – would argue that we still need EA as this helps us answer the question, but I do wonder what exactly these maturity models tell us about the business, and maybe there are other questions to be answered first.

26th October – Reflections on the Munich Conference

Better than Glasgow! – although may well have been due to being further along in working with EA/TOGAF. Also HE day was useful although to a great extent confirmed what we already thought/direction in which we were already going. Seemed from the HE day that – as one of the Dutch participants said – Governance is more of a problem for HE than EA. Or maybe you can’t get anywhere with EA until Governance in place.

Which is where attendance at the Architecture Forum was surprisingly useful. Both myself and Bill Olivier made the point pretty strongly that where we needed help in promoting EA in HE was in convincing senior management/decision makers that this was something worth doing. New focus of the Strategy and work of Adoption/BA working groups suggests that this might be an area where the Open Group might be able to help, and they seemed to be very supportive.

Made the point strongly – & several times – that EA needs to speak the language of the business & not be so IT-related, & also that in the HE sector particularly speaking the language of “the business” is not necessarily the same as speaking the language of “business”. Seemed to be accepted, have to see what happens.

Also raised the issues about the cost of membership – David Rose is taking it up with the appropriate people. Overall felt that our contribution was valued/relevant.

So having expected this Conference to confirm my view that Open Group membership was not much use, now I’m not so sure. If the new Strategy really does take off in the suggested direction might be more help. Discussed future position with David Rose & Bill Olivier – & now tend to think that if future HE membership continues, will need to be better structured, focussed on particular work groups, & maybe will need to be different people involved.

Largely a matter of watch this space.

23rd October – Architecture Forum

Attended not expecting much out of this & was proved wrong.

Included brief presentation from David Rose on the JISC programme, with input from me & Bill Olivier, which was welcomed & catalysed some useful discussion. Various points picked up:

With release of TOGAF9 imminent (immanent?) focus seems to be shifting helpfully from (internal) working on the model to (external) promoting/supporting/using.

New ‘Adoption’ work group, ‘Sales Manual’, focus on change management. New Strategy: to make TOGAF “the management tool of choice for developing and executing business strategy” – some problems with this: where does it leave other tools/approaches/methodologies such as the Excellence Model, Balanced Scorecard, MSP etc. Highly unlikely that there is ‘a’ management tool of choice – better to be one of a range of available tools. Does everything need to be in TOGAF? Also questioned continuing apparently technical focus – talking about IT Governance, not just Governance – but asured that in future more focus on business transformation. Ref issues of industry alignment/vertical v.horizontal, Business Architecture Working Group (Judith Jones) may be doing some relevant work in this area.

So overall, more use than I at first suspected.

22nd October – HE Day

Attended by JISC/Open Group people, UK pilots, Dutch Universities, others. Good discussion, very interesting/useful day. TUDelft/Bert van Zomeren – very interesting thoughts on the key place of Principles. Interesting to see level of shared views on EA/TOGAF etc. – & there was a lot more in it than this very brief report!