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Three Steps to Regain Control over your IT Landscape

Three Steps to Regain Control over your IT Landscape

Most IT landscapes of larger companies consist of hundreds of applications that are interconnected via poorly designed interfaces. In most companies, these IT landscapes already have an enormous technical debt (i.e., an ‘unnecessary complexity’). In my experience, a company typically runs between 80% and 90% more IT applications (and therefore also servers, databases, networks, costs) compared to what would be needed if it had implemented the ideal architecture. A tremendous waste of money and resources, and the reason why IT is perceived as tardy and as a cost factor and not as an enabler. From my point of view, there are three major reasons for this disastrous situation:

Business Units are not aware of their responsibility for their applications and do not think architecturally

There is a tendency to blame the IT department for this situation, but that’s not true. It’s a business problem. Requirements are typically not consolidated well across departments. IT has always just been the contractor who had to implement those punctual requirements under time pressure. Read More

AT#27: Capability Modeling Crash Course – Elicitation Recipe

AT#27: Capability Modeling Crash Course – Elicitation Recipe

Last week we completed our three-post crash course. We received lots of feedback and questions about how to elicit capabilities with the business people. The blog series reached an audience of thousands of people. For that reason, we decided to add a fourth – “da capo” post.

The previous post in this blog-series discussed why capabilities are the invaluable core of Architectural Thinking, how to use your existing process- or value stream maps and how to structure capabilities. Today we present how capabilities should be elicited by the business architect by a broad participation of business stakekholders.  Enjoy!

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AT#26: Capability Modeling Crash Course Part 3

AT#26: Capability Modeling Crash Course Part 3

Capability modeling seems simple but is hard to do in practice. If you browse literature or the internet you’ll find only very little advice. No ‘Capability Modeling Guide’ out there. To change that, the Architectural Thinking Framework includes a draft of detailed guidelines that show how to model capabilities step-by-step.

Last week we discussed how to apply industry-specific capability reference models and how to use your existing process- or value stream maps. Today we provide step-by-step instructions to design a map that is easy to be understood by business stakeholders. Enjoy!

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AT#25: Capability Modeling Crash Course Part 2

AT#25: Capability Modeling Crash Course Part 2

Capability modeling seems simple but is hard to do in practice. If you browse literature or the internet you’ll find only very little advice. No ‘Capability Modeling Guide’ out there. To change that, the Architectural Thinking Framework includes a draft of detailed guidelines that show how to model capabilities step-by-step.

Last week we defined the term ‘Capability’ and discussed why they are invaluable. Today we continue our series with part 2 of 3. Enjoy! Read More

AT#24: Capability Modeling Crash Course Part 1

AT#24: Capability Modeling Crash Course Part 1

In recent years, the idea of business capability modeling has emerged in the EA community. Much has been written about the idea of capability modeling, and it can even be said that we are facing a ‘capability hype’. You can find capability models for many industries on the internet. There are many industry-specific consortiums that try to model the business functions of that particular industry in the form of capabilities.

Capability modeling seems simple but is hard to do in practice. If you browse literature or the internet you’ll find only very little advice. No ‘Capability Modeling Guide’ out there. To change that, the Architectural Thinking Framework includes a draft of detailed guidelines that show how to model capabilities step-by-step.

Today we start a series of three blog posts that provide a capability modeling crash course. It includes the experience of ten years of trial and error in several companies and review by many practitioners.

 

Definition: Capability

A business capability is a core of ‘what’ a business does, a technique for the representation of an organisation’s business anchor model, independent of the organisation’s structure, processes, people or domains [GartnerGlossary]

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AT#23: How to use your Wisdom to make existing Practices agile

AT#23: How to use your Wisdom to make existing Practices agile

Whenever I discuss with people from the Agile world what ‘Agile’ is all about, they tell me that it’s very core is a mindset that is established through values and principles.

All agile practices, methods, and frameworks evolve out of this mindset. Ahmed Sidky visualizes this idea in his ->webinar:

 

 

When I saw this picture my gut told me that there is something fundamentally wrong with this idea. It took me weeks to find out why: Read More

AT#22: Digital Transformation – What Companies should learn from ‘Christkindlmarkt’ Vienna

AT#22: Digital Transformation – What Companies should learn from ‘Christkindlmarkt’ Vienna

A recent article by an Austrian newspaper stated that the growth in sales of the ‘Christkindlmarkt’ Vienna exceeds the turnover growth of online shops by 30%. At the first instant, I was quite surprised by this fact. After some contemplation, I asked myself questions like:

  • Could it be that we admire companies like Amazon too much?
  • Do we live in an age that believes too much in technology and progress?
  • Are companies of the old economy aware of their tremendous strengths that still keep them in front of innovative startups like Fintechs?
  • Is the hype of digital transformation slowing down because of the reality of real, tangible assets that can not be disrupted by internet companies?

After answering these questions from my point of view I would give the following recommendations: Read More

AT#20: Why Digital Transformation fails without Architecture

AT#20: Why Digital Transformation fails without Architecture

Structure not only increases our chance to success,
it makes us more efficient at it.’ – Marshall Goldsmith

When people discuss digital transformation, they talk mostly about innovation, agility and new technologies. Companies put a tremendous amount of effort into initiatives that should make them more agile and innovative, but most of the companies I know do not manage their innovation initiatives towards a big architectural picture. The overly complex structure of dependencies between innovation- and other projects, and between new technologies and legacy-IT, are not handled with intent. Just present a fancy technology to top-level executives. If it has a low time-to-market and includes AI, chances are high that you can do it. No matter if it’s integration with legacy IT results in unnecessary complexity, ‘technical debt’ that introduces a total cost of ownership that outnumbers the business benefits by far. No matter if it is architecturally sound.

Let’s have a closer look at what ‘architecturally sound’ means, what architecture is all about and why the concept of architecture is helpful, especially in the context of innovation: Read More

AT#19 The only effective Way to drive Digital Transformation

AT#19 The only effective Way to drive Digital Transformation

For a long time, setting the direction of a company was done by a small group of top executives that elaborated a detailed business strategy. Business strategies typically define goals that are normally associated with the creation of value for the coming ten years or so. The concept of ‘Business Strategy’ has been introduced in the 60ies by [Chandler62]. 

This 50+ years old concept is still valid today. What has changed dramatically over these 50+ years is the planning horizon. The notion of ‘long-term’ became shorter and shorter. Today, in the VUCA world, there is no ‘long-term’ anymore. Strategies become more fluid, like software that needs constant upgrading. The reality, today, is that most companies do not have a clearly written out strategy. Why formulate a strategy any more when things are changing before you have your strategy ready?

But how do you make strategic decisions without a clear, verbalized strategy? The answer is given by [Westermann14]:

‘The only effective way we’ve seen to drive transformation is top-down, through strong senior executive direction coupled with methods that engage workers in making the change happen by setting direction, building momentum, and ensuring that the company follows through. This kind of change does not happen through a simple mandate, it must be lead. Among the companies we studied, none have created true digital transformation through a bottom-up approach. Successful transformation starts at the top of the companies’.

What you should do: Read More

AT#18: Use Business Capability Maps as the key to the hidden Treasures of Digital Transformation

AT#18: Use Business Capability Maps as the key to the hidden Treasures of Digital Transformation

Today, every company in the world is looking for ways to transform in the direction of more digital capabilities. Many companies of the old economy look up to companies of the new economy like Amazon or Google and perceive them as role models if not as archetypes. Most of these companies want to become ‘a bit like Amazon’ but forget about one key thing: their existing business capabilities that represent the strengths that made them successful in the past. They do not model their current and strategic future capabilities systematically. They do not use the key to open the treasure chest of digital transformation.

The basic idea of capability modeling is simple: structure the business of a company hierarchically by capabilities it needs to create customer value.

Why is it important to model business capabilities?

  • Capabilities clarify terms and concepts across organizational borders.
  • Capabilities provide a robust skeleton, a framework for assigning all the other elements of the enterprise architecture.
  • Capabilities can be used as the central structure for heat mapping in order to answer questions such as: ‘Which strategic fields of actions do we see in which capability’; ‘In which capabilities are we planning to invest how much?‘; ‘Which capabilities are not supported enough by IT?’
  • Assigning IT-applications to capabilities is a powerful way to support business & IT alignment.

What you should do:

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