Skip to main content

Architecture Training

Earlier this month, I spent a week on a BCS training course.  This combined two three-day courses on the topic of Enterprise and Solution Architecture – the first course being Intermediate level and the second Practitioner level. Both courses had an exam on the Friday afternoon.  This is the first time that I’ve taken an exam in almost 30 years!  I was quite tense.  The outcome is not actually that important (hardly comparable to my son's Advanced Highers which determine University entry), but I still wanted to do well.

The intermediate course covered the range of enterprise architecture: business, applications, data and infrastructure, as well as solutions architecture.  With such a breadth, it didn’t have time for much depth, but did present some useful ideas and concepts.  The terminology and structure was given in the BCS “reference model” (really more of a glossary than a full model), which is different in detail to more widely-used frameworks such as TOGAF.

By contrast, the practitioner course focussed almost entirely on solutions architecture.  It was based on a small case study, which we had to analyse in terms of architecture.  This worked well, at least in terms of assessing our understanding.  It had little to say about policy and governance, which are key aspects of enterprise architecture.

What really added value to the course, for me, was an extra case study provided by the training agency (QA), based on the transformation of their own learning management system.  They showed how to apply various techniques for describing architecture, moving the course from theory to practice. I don’t know whether other agencies do a similar job; I certainly appreciated the work that QA had put in to preparing this material.

So, would I recommend this course to others?  Well, for the people we want to train as solution architects, probably not.  There is a three-day course on Archimate that looks more suited to this task.  The BCS course is more suited to budding enterprise architects like me.  More experienced enterprise architects would not benefit as much, but even when I knew sections of the material, I found that attending the course boosted my self-confidence.  Especially when I passed the exams.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Presentation: Putting IT all together

This is a presentation I gave to an audience of University staff: 

In this seminar, I invite you to consider what the University’s online services would be like, if we worked together to design them from the perspective of the student or member of staff who will use them, instead of designing them around the organisational units that provide them. I’ll start with how the services might appear to that student or member of staff, then work back from there to show what this implies for how we work, how we manage our data, and how we integrate our IT systems. It might even lead to changes in our organisational structure.

Our online services make a vital and valued contribution to the work of our students and staff. I argue that with better integration, more consistent user interfaces, and shared data, this contribution could be significantly enhanced.

This practice is called “Enterprise Architecture”. I’ll describe how it consults multiple organisational units and defines a framework …

Service Excellence, Digital Transformation and Enterprise Architecture

Our University Secretary has sponsored a major review of the University’s administrative processes, coining the banner “Service Excellence”.  The aim is to look at the services we provide to staff and students with a fresh eye, making them more effective, more efficient, and focussed on the user rather than administrative convenience.

Our CIO is sponsoring a similar programme called “Digital Transformation”. This will replace old paper-based processes, starting with the question of what would processes look like if we designed them afresh for the modern connected world.  The aim is to make processes that are more focussed on the user and hence more effective and efficient.

Both of these ambitious programmes will need an effective enterprise architecture, if they are to succeed.  Digital Transformation is intrinsically about using opportunities provided by new technology to improve services and, as such, it requires effective technology services to make data available when needed, to pro…

Not so simple...

A common approach to explaining the benefits of Enterprise Architecture is to draw two diagrams: one that shows a complicated mess of interconnections, and one that shows a nicely layered set of blocks. Something like this one, which came from some consultants:


I've never felt entirely happy with this approach.  Yes, we do want to remove as much of the needless complexity and ad-hoc design that litters the existing architecture.  Yes, we do want to simplify the architecture and make it more consistent and intelligible.  But the simplicity of the block diagram shown here is unobtainable in the vast majority of real enterprises.  We have a mixture of in-house development and different third-party systems, some hosted in-house, some on cloud infrastructure and some accessed as software-as-a-service.  For all the talk of standards, vendors use different authentication systems, different integration systems, and different user interfaces.

So the simple block diagram is, basically, a l…