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Category Archives: Enterprise Architecture

For Project Success, Try Something New

Agile, Enterprise Architecture, Information Technology, Innovation, Innovation in the Public Sector, IT Modernization, KAI Partners, Project Management, Sacramento, Scrum, Software Development, Technology

By Barbara Hill

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Self-help gurus have been asserting this for years—and it is no less true for software development.

In software development, we try to not repeat the pattern of projects costing too much, taking too long, and not delivering what customers really need or want. This is no doubt why we’ve seen so much advice offered on how to do things differently.

As an Enterprise Architect, I take a holistic view of an enterprise by focusing on collaboration, facilitation, coordination, and integration.

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of different approaches to software development.

…Early on, there were claims that formal project management methods would solve this problem by reining in costs through managing schedules and ensuring requirements were clearly stated and met.

…We’ve seen the Agile Manifesto, which, among other values, emphasizes individuals and interactions over processes and tools, as well as responding to change over following a plan.

…Then came the DevOps movement, which noted that simply focusing on software development and “throwing work over the wall” to operations was part of the problem. Instead, developers and operations staff should work together to produce better results.

…From there we’ve experienced DevSecOps, which involves security from the outset.

…And then there’s BizDevOps, in which business teams actively engage with the development and operations teams to build new products and services.

No matter which approach you use, in order to deliver a quality product or project, you need to understand the why, the how, the who, the when, the where, and the what of how your business fits and works together.

Of these six questions, the essential one is “Why?” and yet it is often the one left unanswered.

The next time you start a technology project like rebuilding or modernizing a legacy system, or creating a new one, start, as Simon Sinek says, by asking “why?”.

Why does your business or government entity exist? What is the essential value offering you make to your customers or constituents?

Asking “why” determines one of the key components of business architecture—the value stream—and it is also key to Agile and DevOps approaches that emphasize user involvement in determining what is built and how it is tested.

Once you know your value offerings and have some ideas on strategies to deliver your products and services, you can explore what capabilities you need. An analysis and assessment of your business capabilities will help highlight early on where your strengths and weaknesses are and will help you prioritize where to spend your time and resources to achieve the greatest benefits.

By architecting your business, you can think about the information architecture necessary to support the data vital to your success.

Enterprise Architecture work can be done in parallel with your DevOps teams to help ensure that all parts of your enterprise (business, information, technology, applications, security) work together, as noted Enterprise Architect Tom Graves says, “with clarity, with elegance, on purpose.”

About the Author: Barbara Hill is a Senior Enterprise Architect with KAI Partners. With over 20 years of experience working with both California state government and private sector companies, she has been instrumental in helping clients address the complexity and volatility of change, while ensuring alignment between strategic goals and operational realities. Barbara has held Enterprise Architecture certifications from Zachman International and Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture (PEAF and POET) and is currently working on certification from the Business Architecture Guild. Her Enterprise Architecture practitioner’s bag includes considerable knowledge and experience with organizational change management, quality improvement practices (such as LEAN and Six Sigma), knowledge management, data management, and data governance. Barbara’s wide-ranging work interests reflect her nomadic early days, having resided in a number of different U.S. locations, as well as Mangla, West Pakistan and London, England.

What does an Enterprise Architect Do?

Enterprise Architecture, Project Management, Sacramento, Small Business, Startup Company

By Barbara Hill

The crossroads of complexity and volatility lead to enterprise architecture.

If the processes, people, technology, and other environmental factors that make up your business are very simple—but changing rapidly—you can probably manage without documenting your architecture in detail.

If these things are very complex—but changing very little—you still probably can conduct your business without detailing and diagramming your architecture.

But, when things get so structurally complex and are shifting unpredictably (startup and entrepreneur friends, are you listening?), then you will really need to have more precise information about those things, how they relate to each other, what their interdependencies are.

This is where an Enterprise Architect can help.

An Enterprise Architect’s goal is to help nurture an environment where your business can be more efficient, effective, agile, and durable.

A good enterprise architect works similarly to a personal trainer. When you look for a personal trainer to help you get in shape, the trainer will ask you what your goals are. Are you trying to lose weight for an upcoming reunion? Do you need to lose weight for serious health reasons? Are you trying to accomplish an athletic goal, like running a marathon?

An Enterprise Architect looks for similar answers regarding the health of an organization or business. They want to know about the organization’s strategic goals, discuss the business needs, and assess the overall organizational fitness to achieve their business strategy.

Typically, this results in some diagrams and narratives relating to the current “As-Is” state of the business along with the desired “To-Be” future state. Is the business a start-up trying to handle tremendous growth? Is it a recently merged enterprise, trying to meld disparate cultures and organizational approaches? Has it had to recently downsize and is struggling with poor employee morale and customers skeptical of its ability to deliver?

An Enterprise Architect works with your organization to assess how “fit” your organization is today and helps you formulate an appropriate improvement plan to achieve your desired goals. This is often accomplished via a maturity model, which you can use to help determine how fast and in what areas you wish to proceed. This helps in planning out what is reasonable to accomplish, setting out both long-term and short-term goals, based on your organization’s particular strengths and weaknesses.

Just as for individuals, getting an organization more fit for its purposes involves stamina, strength, dexterity, suppleness, agility, speed, and a slew of emotional well-being components. An Enterprise Architect will help you devise a roadmap that sequences projects and initiatives to best optimize the time, risk, and cost needed to achieve your organization’s strategic goals.

An Enterprise Architect uses their considerable wealth of knowledge to tailor their recommendations of tools, methods, policies, and procedures to fit the specific business requirements and culture of your organization. There is no “one-size fits all” approach to improving the health of a business enterprise. To ensure the plan is working requires regular monitoring and check-ups—an Enterprise Architect makes recommendations for establishing and regularly reviewing business performance metrics.

The very best personal trainers are experts at motivating and cheering their clients to victory. Similarly, the very best Enterprise Architects also must be strong communicators who have tremendous empathy and support you in your efforts to adapt to the volatility of the increasingly complex world in which you conduct business.

About the Author: Barbara Hill is a Senior Enterprise Architect with KAI Partners. With over 20 years of experience working with both California state government and private sector companies, she has been instrumental in helping clients address the complexity and volatility of change, while ensuring alignment between strategic goals and operational realities. Barbara has held Enterprise Architecture certifications from Zachman International and Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture (PEAF and POET) and is currently working on certification from the Business Architecture Guild. Her Enterprise Architecture practitioner’s bag includes considerable knowledge and experience with organizational change management, quality improvement practices (such as LEAN and Six Sigma), knowledge management, data management, and data governance. Barbara’s wide-ranging work interests are a reflection of her nomadic early days, having resided in a number of different U.S. locations, as well as Mangla, West Pakistan and London, England.

What is Enterprise Architecture and Why do you need it?

Enterprise Architecture, Healthcare, Program Management, Project Management, Sacramento, Startup Company

By Barbara Hill

In the public healthcare community, there is a well-known parable of the “Three Friends.”  As this story goes, three friends are out for a walk on a beautiful day. They pass a tremendous waterfall and pause to take in its majesty and beauty. As they continue their hike upstream, they see a child being carried by the fast-moving water towards the fall. They quickly rescue the child, but in doing so, notice more children coming downstream towards them.

One friend decides to focus on those most immediately in need of saving before going over the edge of the waterfall, while the other two start building a raft to save more children. But there are still more children coming, and the three friends quickly get overwhelmed trying to save them all.

At some point, two of the friends realize their third friend seems to have disappeared, but looking up, they see this friend moving far upstream, helping children along the way, but moving farther away from the waterfall. They call out, “Where are you going? Why are you abandoning us? We still have so many children to save!” The third friend calls out a reply, “I am going to find out who or what is throwing these children in the river and stop them.”

Let’s look at this parable in the real world—for example, the healthcare industry:

  1. The first friend represents those care givers we all go to when we are in desperate need: ER doctors, ICU nurses, trauma surgeons, etc.
  2. The second friend represents the caregivers who help keep us healthy on a regular basis: The doctors, nurses, and clinicians who give us our annual checkups and make sure we are up to date with our vaccinations.
  3. The third friend is not as easily found. These are the “upstream doctors”—the ones looking to understand the wider system dynamics that affect a person’s health. They consider how our health depends on a broad range of factors, such as where and how we live and work (i.e., the “social determinants of health”).

Enterprise architects (EAs) are the “upstream doctors” for businesses.

For many businesses, their primary efforts fit into the realm of the first friend. They are totally consumed with keeping the business going, getting product out the door, making sales, and bringing in revenue; they are “heads down” on making things happen.

Some businesses may have a few of the second type of friend, perhaps consultants to help them improve their business processes, or suggest new tools and technologies that might help them get a few more dollars into their pockets.

Rarer still are those businesses including the third type of friend, someone looking far upstream to better understand why and how their business operates the way it does, someone who is focused on the larger context within which their business operates and the sources of their ultimate success or failure.

An Enterprise Architect (the third friend) works to ensure all parts of your business and the relationships between them work towards achieving your overall strategic goals.

This means your business architecture (your business capabilities and processes) are well-aligned with your information architecture (your data definitions, flows, and repositories). These are in turn facilitated by the software applications and systems you use to perform your work and are supported by the technology infrastructure everything is built upon.

KAI Partners’ Enterprise Architects look more widely at the ecosystem your enterprise fits within, looking at how your suppliers, competitors, partners, and government regulatory bodies effect how well you can stay healthy and not go tumbling over the waterfall.

Here is a little bit about KAI Partners’ Enterprise Architecture services:

  1. Enterprise Architecture Program Development Services. Customized for your organization’s needs, we assess the maturity level of your organization’s Enterprise Architecture, as well as the Current State, Future State, Gap Analysis, Roadmap, and more.
  2. Enterprise Architecture Team Implementation Services. We assess the existing level of your team’s Enterprise Architecture Maturity and help design and/or advance your existing Enterprise Architecture program.
  3. Business and IT Strategy Alignment Services. Some of our services include Strategic Planning, Business Architecture, Business Operating Model, and Application Portfolio Rationalization.

As noted Enterprise Architecture pundit Tom Graves said, enterprise architecture is based on one central idea: “Things work better when they work together with clarity, with elegance, on purpose.”

Interested in learning more about KAI Partners’ Enterprise Architecture services? We’d love to talk to you and get an understanding of your organization’s needs! Contact us today at 916-465-8065.

About the Author: Barbara Hill is a Senior Enterprise Architect with KAI Partners. With over 20 years of experience working with both California state government and private sector companies, she has been instrumental in helping clients address the complexity and volatility of change, while ensuring alignment between strategic goals and operational realities. Barbara has held Enterprise Architecture certifications from Zachman International and Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture (PEAF and POET) and is currently working on certification from the Business Architecture Guild. Her Enterprise Architecture practitioner’s bag includes considerable knowledge and experience with organizational change management, quality improvement practices (such as LEAN and Six Sigma), knowledge management, data management, and data governance. Barbara’s wide-ranging work interests are a reflection of her nomadic early days, having resided in a number of different U.S. locations, as well as Mangla, West Pakistan and London, England.

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The Enterprise Architect

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Enterprise Architecture, Government, KAI Partners, KAI Partners Staff Profile, Sacramento, Scrum, Technology

There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insight from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success.

Today, we bring you the journey of one of our Consultants, Steven Duart. Steven works with one of KAI Partners’ public sector clients as an Integration Enterprise Architect. He helps implement the structure, guardrails, and guidelines for the future product development teams to modernize a large-scale statewide information system.

KAI Partners, Inc.: How did you get into Enterprise Architecture consulting work?

Steven Duart: I was recently told that I have a thought process of an Architect. Reflecting on that comment, I believe that mindset was developed through both education and experiences. I went with a traditional education route and received a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, a second Bachelor’s degree in technical studies, and a Master’s in computer information systems. The experiences of having to design a technical architecture for client that did not understand their business and working for a State agency that did not know what their true mandate is have matured my mindset which is naturally analytical and good at synthesis, abstraction, visualization, imagination, and practicality. I believe that I have always been an architect, but the realization did not happen until I was surrounded by like-minded individuals in the work I currently do.

KAI: Are there any certifications or trainings you’ve gone through that have helped in your career?

SD: It was not until around the past five years that I started to obtain certifications. In the past two years I have received two certifications, Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM) and TOGAF® 9 Certification (The Open Group Architecture Framework). I believe those two certifications have helped me establish myself at and allowed me to take on additional roles. The TOGAF® 9 Certification has given me the knowledge of their framework and how to tailor their framework to develop an architecture for clients.  It has been a benefit for State clients because the TOGAF® 9 Certification is internationally recognized. In addition to my CSM and TOGAF, I also hold a certification in Functional Programming Principles in Scala and am a Certified Paralegal.

Here are a few certifications I am evaluating to help me provide better service to clients:

  • AWS Solution Architect
  • Certified Business Architect
  • Certified Product Owner

KAI: What is your favorite part about your line of work and why?

SD: My favorite part of Enterprise Architecture is that it is a unique line of work which juggles past, present, and future. We must focus on the future, while living in the now and being completely aware of the past. This drives my thinking, impact, and presence. It allows for me to put the customer at the center of an approach (i.e., Agile) and design technology around the customer’s unique needs. This enables innovation of a product service experience through iterative, incremental activations which delivers continuous enterprise transformation at speed and scale.

KAI: What is one of the most common question you receive from clients and what counsel or advice do you give them?

SD: The most common question I get is, “Why do I need a ‘Framework’ for IT Architecture?” The advice I give is that using an architectural framework will speed up and simplify the architecture development. This will ensure more complete coverage of the designed solution and make certain that the architecture selected allows for future scalability in response to the needs of the business.

Now that we’ve learned more about Steven’s Enterprise Architecture work, here’s a little more about him!

Quick Q&A with Steven:

Daily, must-visit website:

Preferred genre of music or podcast to listen to:

  • Music
  • Hawaiian R&B
  • Reggae
  • Rap
  • Indie
  • Podcast
  • Security Now
  • tv
  • Hollywood Babble On (This is a fun podcast, but may not be for everyone)

Best professional advice received:

  • The best career advice I received was to be persistent and resilient and to not let detours or failures derail my career. Successful men and women frequently have failures and detours in their careers, but do not let those bumps dissuade them. In fact, for successful people, failures are a part of success and detours are seen as opportunities to push your career further ahead.

Book you can read over and over again:

  • Beyond the Band of Brothers
  • The Biggest Brother

Most-recent binge-watched show:

  • Silicon Valley
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Archer

About Steven: Steven Duart is an Enterprise Architect who works with one of KAI Partners’ public-sector clients. Steven partnered with KAI Partners to launch an Enterprise Architecture practice to deliver business driven experiences at the intersection of strategy, design, behaviors, and products.  Steven is a certified in TOGAF and has a Master’s degree in computer information systems from St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas. Steven is a die hard Notre Dame football fan, he enjoys playing recreational sports, and could go to the movies daily.

The Benefits of an Enterprise Architecture Program

Conferences, Enterprise Architecture, Project Management, Public Sector Partners Project Delivery Summit

enterprise-architecture
Image Credit: Agile Path

This article was originally published in November 2016.

KAI Partners, Inc. was thrilled to be one of the sponsors and presenters at last week’s Project Delivery Summit, hosted by Public Sector Partners. A great event all around, we are sharing with you today a little about the Summit, as well as some highlights from our presentation on Enterprise Architecture.

According to Public Sector Partners, “The Project Delivery Summit is designed to bring together state and local employees who manage, direct, sponsor and participate in the delivery of State and Local Government IT projects. The goal of this summit is to provide a one-day forum to deliver education, foster collaboration, and provide networking opportunities for staff at all levels (line, executive and stakeholders) who work in and around government projects.”

Not only did the Summit include great presenters like U.S. Ambassador Mary Yates, but it also gave attendees the opportunity to delve into some dynamic topics during one of 21 different sessions. KAI Partners’ President and Founder David Kendall presented during one such session, where he discussed the business value of an Enterprise Architecture program.

You may be wondering, What is Enterprise Architecture? Enterprise Architecture is the analysis and documentation of an enterprise in its current and future states from an integrated strategy, business, and technology perspective.

So, what are some business benefits of an Enterprise Architecture program? In addition to improved planning, Enterprise Architecture also provides measurable value, including shortened planning cycles, more effective planning meetings, shorter decision-making cycles, reduced re-work, fewer resource demands, and more.

An official Enterprise Architecture program can help improve decision-making by providing a comprehensive view of current capabilities and resources as well as ‘what-if’ modeling of future operations. What’s more, Enterprise Architecture improves communications through the implementation of a common language and central approach. This way, misunderstandings or requirements and solutions can be greatly reduced.

Now, with all of these benefits, what about cost? And, does an Enterprise Architecture program pose any risks? As with any program, cost and risk are two items which should be closely monitored and planned for.

The full life-cycle cost of an Enterprise Architecture program should be documented and presented to your Enterprise Architecture program sponsor to provide a clear understanding of cost right from the start. One way to estimate an Enterprise Architecture program cost is to look at each area of the implementation methodology and identify the direct and indirect costs. A few of these costs might be management and staff resources; meetings, facilities, materials, and support for stakeholder planning; and As-Is and To-Be analysis efforts.

Some potential risk areas include financial, lack of acceptance, and schedule delays. Of course, a risk mitigation strategy is a vital part of a comprehensive Enterprise Architecture program. A few strategies for risk mitigation include Executive Sponsorship, the adoption of proven Enterprise Architecture tools and techniques, and ongoing risk identification and mitigation.

We hope this helps shed a little insight into Enterprise Architecture and remember, at the end of the day, linking your strategy, business, and technology planning through an Enterprise Architecture program is something that can help improve your business across all facets.

Did you attend the Project Delivery Summit? What were some takeaways from the event for you? Interested in more about Enterprise Architecture and how it can help your business? Contact us today at info@kaipartners.com.

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