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Showing posts from January, 2016

My MidWest tour (Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan and Miami)

I very much enjoyed my recent trip to visit the EA teams at three Universities in the American Midwest.My hosts were generous with their time and gladly shared their knowledge and experience of establishing Enterprise Architecture practices.I learnt a lot about EA techniques and even more about the soft skills required to establish an EA practice for a large and diverse institution with a limited budget.
The topics of our discussions reflected the different priorities that the three institutions have set for their EA teams.The UM-W team focus on major initiatives rather than try to map the overall space.They provide EA input to assess which aspects of the current state need most attention and then helping with the transition to the new processes.This seems to reflect the steer I was given by a Gartner consultant, to show some immediate business outcomes.
The other two institutions are taking a more systematic approach in that they are attempting to define certain artefacts across all…

EA and IT Service Management

EA and IT Service Management
I completed my USA trip with a visit to the EA team at Miami University.For the uninitiated (as I was), don't confuse this with the city in Florida: Miami University is in Oxford, Ohio, and takes its name from that of the local Native American tribe.
The EA team at Miami is newer than the other teams I visited on this trip.Still, they have managed to achieve quite a lot in the few years of their existence.Their CIO has tasked them with mapping the current state of the five domains (Business, Information, Applications, Infrastructure and Security) and they have made good progress with this.
Their Enterprise Architect chose to use simple tools for this task.By using Google sheets to collect data, they could crowd source much of the information, getting input from the staff within each org unit who know the details of which applications are used to deliver which capabilities.This had a secondary effect of publicising the work of the EA team within the U…

Michigan Enterprise Strategic Assessments

Today I visited the EA team at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.One of the things they showed me was their template for IT services to document their strategic plans.These are called MESAs, which stands for Michigan Enterprise Strategic Assessment.The name was adopted to fit the shape of the headline diagram in the template, which looks like this example:

Components of the service are placed along the curve to reflect their position in the life-cycle at UMich.As the deployment of a technology or other service component becomes more mature, it moves along the curve from left to right.The vertical axis shows when the component is in wide use.The curve is the same for all services – it is like the Gartner hype curve rather than a graph of specific values.The icon for each component shows whether a component is recommended or deprecated, with more recent versions of the chart also including an icon for components which are being evaluated.
As with Core Diagrams, and several other …

UW Madison Advisor Service

Yesterday I had an excellent day visiting the architecture team at the University of Wisconsin – Madison (UWM).The UWM team was created as long ago as 1995, following a major reorganisation of IT in the university, so they have had plenty of time to learn what works and what does not work for UWM.
One of their recent successes is a major initiative to transform support for their student advisors.The advisor role is rather like our personal tutor, guiding students on their choice of courses and helping them when other issues arise.In fact, one of the outcomes of this architecture work is a web site for UWM students that explains what services the advisors can offer – see .
The problem the team set out to address was hugely complex.There was no co-ordination or sense of community connecting the advisors in all the different schools, colleges and departments.Advisors and students had to deal with as many as 17 different IT systems, most of which required diffe…

Enterprise Architecture at the University of Edinburgh

So, what is Enterprise Architecture (EA) and why are we bringing it to the University?Let me set aside formal definitions and detailed explanations - after all, there is plenty of background information on the web, which you can read should you wish.Instead, let’s keep this informal and look at what it can do for our university.
Essentially, the goal of EA is to link all IT and administrative services together to provide a joined-up, easy-to-use suite of services.Times have changed from when students dealt with IT systems separately - logging in to the back-office finance system for one task, the timetabling system for another, teaching systems during the day, and so forth.Instead, people do everything online, using smartphones or laptops or desktops.We rarely think about the ”IT” systems underpinning these services, we just do the processes online without really thinking about the IT.Enterprise Architecture is about making the “business processes”, the data, the applications and the…

Episode IV: A New Hope

Since the beginning of this academic year, I have taken on the full-time role to establish an Enterprise Architecture capability at the University.For the past few months, I have been working out roles and relationships, principles and processes.I have given presentations to several groups, first within IS and now moving beyond.I have recruited an experience contractor to help the University along this new path.And as the new calendar year begins, we are in the position to start producing results that people can see.
A key part of this role is communication – explaining what EA is about, listening to people’s concerns, sharing knowledge of resources new and old, discussing what needs to be done, and disseminating decisions.I am reviving this blog as one strand of this communication.Over the years, I have been a pretty poor blogger.I haven’t always had things to say, and sometimes I have lacked the time to write them.With the importance of communication in this new role, I hope to do …