Skip to main content

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 better.

There are other channels besides this blog.  I am arranging regular meetings with other sections of IS, with the colleges, and with other support units.  There will be an Architecture Repository with links to resources – including high-level documents such as principles and architecture overviews, as well as more technical artefacts such as data models, interface descriptions, technology life-cycles, and procurement standards.  And I welcome any questions from anyone who wishes to know more or to raise a concern.

Architecture is a subject dear to my heart.  During my time as Head of Development Services I did try to introduce some architecture ideas and practices, which is very difficult to achieve with basically no funding. My new role, to which I am seconded for the current academic year, gives me the opportunity to put proper foundations in place.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Changing Principles

In EA, architecture principles set a framework for making architectural decisions.  They help to establish a common understanding across different groups of stakeholders, and provide guidance for portfolios and projects.  Michael Durso of the LSE gave a good introduction to the idea in a webinar last week for the UCISA EA community.

Many organisations take the TOGAF architecture principles as a starting point.  These are based on the four architectural domains of TOGAF: business, information/data, applications, technology/infrastructure.  These principles tend to describe what should be done, e.g. re-use applications, buy in software rather than build it, keep data secure.  See for example the principles adopted at Plymouth University and the University of Birmingham.

Recently though, I encountered a different way of looking at principles.  The user experience design community tend to focus more on how we should do things.  E.g. we should start with user needs, use iterative developm…

Why the UCISA Capability Model is useful

What do Universities do?

This may seem a strange question to ask and the answer may seem obvious.  Universities educate students and undertake research.  And perhaps they work with industrial partners and create spin-off companies of their worn.  And they may work with local communities, and affiliation bodies for certain degress, and they definitely report on their activities to government bodies such as HEFCE.  They provide student services and support.  The longeryou think about it, the more things you can think of that a University does.

In business, the things that an organisation does are called "capabilities", which is a slightly strange term.  I think it is linked to the HR idea of a combination of the CAPacity and ABILITY to do a task.  Whatever the name, it is a useful concept.  A capability is more basic than a process: a University may change the way it educates students but as long as it remains a University it will educate them one way or another.

A capability …

A new EA Repository

One of my goals since starting this job two years ago has always been to create a repository for architecture documents.  The idea is to have a central store where people can find information about the University's applications, data sources, business processes, and other architectural information.  This store will make it easier for us to explain our plans, to show the current state of the University's information systems, and to explain what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

It's taken a long time to reach this goal, mainly because we're often had more pressing and immediate work to be done.  The creation of a repository is one of those tasks that is very important but never quite urgent.  So I'm now very happy to say that we are in the process of deploying a repository and modelling tool.


This is the culmination of a careful process to select the most appropriate tool for our needs.  We began by organising several workshops to gather requirements from a rang…