Tag Archives: jiscea

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:



JISC/LFHE Strategic ICT Toolkit Closedown Meeting

To the University of Nottingham for the final meeting for the project team – JISC/LFHE/JISCInfonet – & institutions who have participated in the SICT field test projects. Taxi ride from Nottingham station taking in a firebombed police station – not something you see everyday. Possibly a more than usually garbled commentary, but it was a very worthwhile initiative so I feel the need to get something down.

First session of the day was for each institution to do a Pecha Kucha presentation on their project. The following are a few interesting bits & pieces I picked up…

Bruce Levitan/Manchester Metropolitan University raised the interesting issue of the impenetrability of Enterprise Architecture for those from a non-technical background. Good point, although my experience suggests that as usually presented those from a technical background don’t necessarily find it any easier. Also see my closing comments. Anyroad, he suggested that some more engaging way of presenting EA was needed, & showed part of what looked like a very good Gartner EA animation. Which took me back to illustrating SOA/EA to LJMU management using the JISC SOA animation, & discussions in the EA Practice Group & beyond about how great it would be to have something for EA. Well, it still would.

Ian Hall/York had approached the project through the interesting mechanism of 1:1 interviews with senior managers using the toolkit. Comments: again, EA could be off putting, & not necessarily necessary/essential? Outcome – look into it. Equally, Shared services seen as a means to an end rather than necessarily a dimension on their own. Highlighted need to work on communications! & Information Governance. Started thought process. Will run again.

City of Glasgow College. Difficult to get off the ground but got conversations going. Separate toolkit for FE? EA awareness only with technical staff.

Middlesex. Academic view. Challenged dimensions ie not the ones they thought were relevant eg discarded shared services. Communications! Toolkit – jargon; limitations in spreadsheet; duplication, poor flow of questions. First real attempt at measuring ICT provision. Need to collect data over time – longitudinal.

& then things become rather more garbled than usual as it was my go & I suffered Powerpoint meltdown. My attempt at setting up a timed presentation for my Pecha Kucha (I can’t help thinking of gutta percha…) had resulted in an 0.06 second transition time between slides, which even my fast talking couldn’t keep up with. Attempts to fix it while continuing the presentation failed miserably, so I had to take time out – hence my recollection of other Pecha Kuchas is limited as I was labouring over a hot laptop, thanks for the loan, Lesley Huxley.

Clearly my new ‘zero or one’ strategy for slides is right for me – should never have gone for gutta percha.

So all I can say of the rest is: Coventry – Academic leaning, challenged the premises. Loughborough – scored Strategic! & devised their own simplified version. Bolton used it to support bringing in a Governance structure. & if I’ve missed you out completely whilst I was floundering around, apologies…

Next session: breakout to brainstorm around our projects. Lot of interesting stuff – particularly discussion around whether or not Shared Services should be a dimension, & the tension between generic/persistent dimensions – leadership, communications – & dimensions that may be time-limited eg if you did the exercise 5 years ago, or 5 years in the future, would EA & Shared Services appear? Emphasised the importance of focusing on the objective not the means ie an institution wants effective/efficient services; Shared Services may present a way of achieving these; an institution needs to understand the relationships between it’s people, processes & systems; EA is a way of articulating this. If you don’t go with Shared Services or EA it doesn’t mean you don’t need efficient/effective services or to understand relationships.

Also interesting discussion about how projects get prioritised/get senior managemnt backing, & where innovation fits into this. General rule:

Followed by a video conference session with Alex Hawker talking about the new Strategic Information Practice Group initiative, which will take on & progress the work of the EAPG and SICT, & the JISC call 11/11 for Transformation projects which will engage with these & other JISC-supported tools to deliver organisational change – very useful.

& lastly that I’m going to comment on, Lesley Huxley from the LFHE gave a rundown of how they might incorporate the SICT in their work, & led a very useful discussion around how it could be used in management development. One very straightforward idea: Senior management teams should be knowledgeable about the capability of ICT & what it can do for their business. They really should. Seriously. They should all be type 42s. They bang on all the time about the need to work smarter not harder, to be online, to engage with the digital natives – so plainly at the capability level they need to know about this stuff. So use the ICT Toolkit to find out if they do…

Also interesting discussion about how projects get prioritised/get senior managemnt backing, & where innovation fits into this. General rule: cheaper & better; can also go with better & the same; cheaper & the same; & sometimes even cheaper & worse, if a service is necessary but only needs to work rather than add value. Then raises the question: what about innovation? New things that by definition can’t be cheaper or better because they don’t exist. Suggested that innovation could be another SICT dimension.

Final comments:

– there was a lot of discussion around whether EA & Shared Services were really important strategic dimensions. I think the problem’s with the language. Using these terms can ghettoise them – they become magical technical things that can be put over there with the magical technical people – if you talk about services, which might be shared, or understanding relationships, which can be done with EA, you’re in a different ball game with a chance of winning.
– there still seems to be a lot of obfuscation around EA. EA is like Project Management – it’s just organised common sense. It’s not that complicated; it’s not as complicated as the experts make it seem; bring on the animation!
– Hell yes, JFDI

What Is Flexible Service Delivery?

A response to Alex Hawkers blog & the challenge to define Flexible Service Delivery.

To my mind, the answer is sort of in the question. Bearing in mind the critics of the term FSD mentioned by Alex – and yes there have been some, and we could have spent the next ten years debating terminology – I think a useful way of looking at it is to see the three key words as defining the what, how and why of the programme.

Flexible is the what. As Alex says, what we’re trying to do is get institutions into the position where they can ‘exploit new and improved business models for the delivery of their IT services’ – which sounds like flexibility to me. To not necessarily be tied to big suppliers; to not necessarily have to run/own everything in house; to be open to new approaches to sharing, both internally and externally. I think it’s also useful to consider what ‘flexible’ isn’t: it isn’t necessarily shared services, software as a service, the Cloud, SOA, outsourcing etc – but it is having a flexible and adaptable approach that makes these genuinely and easily adoptable options. This approach is also required from suppliers – better and genuine adherence to standards, disaggregation of software suites, new models for delivery.

Service is the how. I think it’s critical to emphasise exactly how powerful the shift from thinking about systems to thinking about services can be – and I don’t mean this in the more technical SOA sense, but in the sense of thinking ‘my institution needs an enrolment service’ and not ‘my institution needs an enrolment system’. Thinking in the latter (old?) way tends to lead again in the direction of proliferating systems and associated integrations and complexity; thinking in the former (new?) way leads to more fundamental considerations about how the service might be delivered and where it might sit. Defining the service layer that sits above and is supported by the systems is an essential step towards flexibility – if you don’t have a clear picture of what services your systems are supporting, you can hardly make rational decisions about which to share/outsource/discontinue. And this – of course – is where Enterprise Architecture comes in, as an essential approach for understanding how your systems, processes and people fit together, all based around a service definition.

 Delivery is the why. In the current financial climate, we still need to deliver quality services to increasingly demanding customers – and the scale of cuts already being faced means that we can’t simply do this by shaving a bit off the edges and doing everything that little bit less well. It will be mandatory to take a fundamental look at the what, how and why of all services (it should have been anyway!)  – & we’ll undoubtedly end up with some new ones, some redesigned ones, some that are delivered in new and innovative ways, and some that are surplus to affordable requirements. As I’ve said, ‘flexible’ doesn’t necessarily mean shared services etc – it would hardly be flexible if it did – but financial constraints and customer expectations may well mean exactly that, and engagement with alternative methods of delivery may well not be optional.

JISC Flexible Service Delivery (FSD) Strategic Technologies Group Workshop

JISC FSD Workshop, 9th September 2010 – really good attendance & introduction to 14 new projects. Should be a good day – slightly overshadowed at the moment by wondering what David Willetts is going to say to the UUK Conference later this morning…what follow are my random thoughts/comments, not a report on the event…

Alex Hawker/JISC FSD Programme Manager – introduction/background. Good to hear about the £3.5m HEFCE UMF funding coming to the programme to look into cloud computing for administrative services etc. In my role on the FSD Steering Group/as a member of the JISC Organisational Support Committee, will be interesting to discuss/determine exactly how the funding should be deployed.

Usual general stuff but essential for new participants – what, why, when, how etc – well covered & the increasing focus on business benefits/practical outcomes/economic imperatives is very welcome. Also great plug for the Enterprise Architecture Practice Group, ‘EA emerging as a key enabler’ – mind you, would query the ’emerging’ there myself, it has plainly been integral/critical from the start, but at least/at last we’re getting there.

Would like to see more & more explicitly on the need for a service approach – not in terms of SOA but in terms of the importance of talking about/thinking about services & not systems, particularly when engaging with key stakeholders/senior management – it’s implicit but I think it needs bringing out more as moving from thinking about systems to thinking about services is both essential & very powerful. I may well come back to this…

(As an aside – tweet from UUK Conference ‘Will we see more universities joining up to share services in the future? Sir John Arbuthnott’ – well, will we?)

And further to this aside – David Willetts devoted a surprisingly large part of his UUK speech to shared services – so maybe the train has left the station.

Large part of the day was taken up with introductions from the 14 new projects – which I think was a great idea & must have benefitted the new projects enormously – as will Andrew Smart’s role in coordinating support & communications for what is becoming an increasingly complex & high profile programme.

The new projects are an interesting mixture of technical/business, piloting technologies/piloting approaches,quite prosaic/quite ambitious, internally focused/externally focused – which I guess is what we want. Clearly still need more supplier engagement – although at least Unit 4 are getting stuck in there. I also guess the trick will be coordinating the projects/outcomes so that we achieve objectives/realise the benefits at the programme level.

& finally, to come back to my comments on the need for a service approach, as promised – very pleased to hear Leeds Metropolitan talking about the need to take the service focus outside of IT. I don’t think sharing services from within IT is really going to get us anywhere…

Enterprise Architecture & the Office of the CIO

Interesting presentation on EA & the Office of the CIO by George Paras, MD of EAdirections – & thanks to Helmut Schwindlick @EA_consultant for the tweet.

Definition of the functions to be carried out in the Office of the CIO – eg EA, PP3 – similar to what I would place in the Programme Office – & all very pertinent for us given that we have a new CIO & are in the process of working out where such functions are best located.

Also raises a key question: “How can an enterprise establish a reasonable idea for all that has to happen in a complex organisation to accommodate necessary change in support of business transformation”?

By doing EA, would be a reasonable answer.

JISC Enterprise Architecture Practice Group Workshop – June 21st – EA Impact

Beautiful longest day of the year & travelling down to Birmingham for the latest in the EA series. 2-day event, sadly I can only make the first day which means early start & late finish, so longest day may be right.

Good turnout again & some new faces/attendees, from Manchester County Council, Cranfield Business School, University College Falmouth, the Bloomsbury group of institutions/Media Cloud project, & the LFHE SICT project, amongst others.

Session 1 – Big Picture & Discussion

Introduction from David Rose included reference to the ‘6 E’s’ – what we’re trying to achieve is Efficiency, Effectiveness & Enablement for the Enterprise, Education & External Stakeholders – fits very well with our ‘4 P’s’ approach – Problem, Project & Programme-based Pragmatic EA.

Committed a crime against EA in my presentation – referenced new CIO from the ‘business-side’ & ‘ICT function aligned with the business’ – when of course there are no sides, & must think of another way to describe ‘aligning the business with ICT’ when the business is ICT, & ICT is the business. Reemphasised, however, the importance of the conversation, & the impact of culture & context on the conversations it is possible to have. Also here ‘referenced Kamala Velayutham from JISC-CETIS’s blog where she discusses EA with Mark Blowers of Ovum-Butler Group, excellent & succinct articulation of a practical approach, couldn’t have put it better myself, well worth a look.

Paul Belli – Imperial College – thinking of doing some EA modelling, looking at BizzDesign Architect but not happy with the costs. Time to investigate deals &/or the future of Archi.

Patrick O’Reilly/Bolton – struggling with Governance, not just ICT but more generally. Something that the LFHE SICT project should address – but interesting that it is still seen as such a problem; if it is so difficult to introduce effective Governance, is there really a will to do EA/Strategic ICT? & are there not perhaps bigger problems than lack of a Governance framework?

Session 2 – Help Control Costs with EA

A number of brief presentations from institutions doing work in this area.

Simon Waddington/King’s College – Cost Savings in Research through EA. Mostly looking at data reuse.

Sally Gannon/LJMU. CRM Case Management = EA saving money through system reuse; Blackboard capability as against Campus Solutions, integration of Oracle CRM & Campus Solutions via Oracle CDH = EA solving problems through articulating systems capability/complexity.

Sam Rowley/Staffordshire University – External Examiner Appointment. Mapping & rationalisation of the appointment process/implementation of a common system to replace duplication.

Impact of modelling – hits them right between the eyes! Complexity commonality & duplication immediately apparent.

Nathalie Czechowksi/Coventry: Will EA reduce costs? EA as contributor to benefits realisation? EA to assess the impact of change. Question: how can we assess the value of using an EA approach, as against not? Discussion: stress on staff because of lack of documentation – sounds like case for management, not EA.

Patrick O’Reilly, Bolton. EA to support collaborative provision.

EA in a slightly enlarged tweet: as an aside, interesting to note the definition’s of EA in the LinkedIn Enterprise Architecture Network EA in 160 character’s challenge, analysis of which can be found at Pragmatic EA.

Session 3: Management & Governance.

Andrea Addison – introduction to the JISC LFHE Strategic ICT Project. For my sins(?) I’m on the advisory group for this, but useful for it to be presented to the EAPG. Around levels of maturity in strategic use of ICT, & understanding of how to progress between levels, to become part of LFHE leadership training for senior managers. Findings so far – increase in the CIO role, but not simply number-crunching – there are people not formally designated as CIO who are carrying out that role; key responsibility is promoting the effective use of ICT in support of the business. Communication is key: note the increasing incidence of the account or relationship manager role within the ICT function; EA is a key tool within this. Interesting to note that of 20 HEIs interviewed, about 25% mentioned EA.

What is the compelling argument for EA in strategic ICT? Weill & Ross – need to make architecture decisions: which systems support which processes for which people – without this have no framework for decision making. Interesting points from Graham Openshaw/Manchester City Council, investigating EA as a possible approach to rationalising their ICT estate.

Interesting point to consider – what’s the difference between Governance & management? – try this: Governance is about making the right decisions; management is about managing the implications of those decisions.

Idong Usoru/University of the West of Scotland – Future Proof Institutions. Discussion largely around positioning of EA, how EA can produce value, what the KPIs & performance measures for EA might be.

In conclusion: as the day drew to a close, seemed to me we were losing sight of the service dimension which defines what EA is for ie we are trying to produce excellent services for our customers & stakeholders; technology realises services to support applications; applications realise services to support business processes; business processes realise services for customers. To realise these services in the most efficient & effective way & deliver the best quality to our customers & stakeholders, both now & in the future, we need to understand the relationships between technology, applications, processes & people. To move to new models of service delivery, shared services etc we need to understand these relationships. & EA is a tool that enables you to model & understand these relationships – which is why you would use it. We need to talk about services, not systems – a University needs an enrolment service, or a payroll service, this doesn’t mean it necessarily needs an enrolment system or a payroll system – the latter tends to presuppose that the University would be running these systems, which doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, & may well not be in the future, if not sooner.

JISC Flexible Service Delivery Programme – STG Workshop “Working Towards Delivery”

In Birmingham for next workshop in the series. Missed first day – EA Practice Group workshop focusing on modelling – as attending JISC-CETIS Board meeting. Apparently this went extremely well, & very gratifying that presentation from colleague from LJMU – Sally Gannon – was extremely well received.

Key theme from introduction by Craig Wentworth – synthesis, exemplified by Brian Eno at the synthesiser – although analogy works on other levels…

Focus today very much on sharing between various projects & JISC/sector stakeholders/advisors – sharing artefacts, thinking, concerns, approaches, progress. Round table/world cafe approach to promote discussion working well. First session on themes – SOA; Shared Services; BI; Student Services; Student Retention; Internationalisation/Partnerships – & visualising synergies, where JISCinfoNet will be feeding back synthesis.

Followed by discussion on identifying assets that can be shared – models, presentations, case studies – & taxonomy. Clearly identified that key to sharing is common language; & key to stakeholder engagement is speaking their language & selling the benefits.

Taxonomy/tags: interesting to note that there is already a proliferation of Twitter hashtags with reference to EA that makes it hard to find stuff – hardly surprising given the absence of context. Wouldn’t want to get into the realms of ontology – because I won’t know what I’m talking about apart from anything else – but the usefulness of terminology will be dependent on contextualisation. Is this a job for the semantic web? Now leaving the shallow end of the pool, so I’ll stop there, with a final note that in plain English what we really need to do is make it easier for people to find relevant stuff.

Back to my point about conversations – what conversations is it possible to have? What language needs to be used in those conversations? At what level(s) can they take place? Conversation analysis – like stakeholder analysis/forcefield analysis but at a less formal level? Who can you talk to; what can you talk to them about; how should you do it – may determine strategy for promoting FSD-related stuff within the organisation. One key element – focus on benefits: what will be the outcomes of doing <x>, rather than how to do <x>. Craig Wentworth – focus on talking to people about what they’re bothered about, rather than what you want to tell them. Be useful out there!

After (excellent) lunch – affinity diagramming,challenged to identify expected benefits of FSD projects, & how they might be measured. Benefits, relatively easy; measurement hard (as usual!) Useful exercise – be interesting to see what comes out of JISCinfoNet synthesis. Good point – all good MSP stuff this – one person’s benefit is another person’s burden; need to say who the benefit is for, & should also identify disbenefits.

Followed by a ‘Dragon’s Den’ type session for each STG project to pitch the benefits that would accrue, & be challenged. Interesting but spirits flagging by this point…interestingly noted that benefits can be emergent rather than as initially defined, which is often the case but not often acknowledged. Problem with the traditional business case – can’t do a project without first defining the benefits, can’t truly define the benefits without doing the project – points to approach we are tending to take with projects within our Development Programme, project brief has outline benefits linked to defined programme benefits, more clearly defined as project progresses.

& that draws me at least to a close – another good FSD/STG workshop, & the JISCinfoNet synthesis to look forward to.