Skip to main content

Out and about

An important part of my role is to get out and meet people, to explain what enterprise architecture is about and how it will benefit the University.  I have regular meetings with a number of people across the University.  In addition, I am often invited (or put myself forward) to speak to particular groups.  Here follow a few examples.

The College of Science and Engineering IT Committee asked me to explain what my role was about and I was happy to do so.  I kept my presentation short and high level, to get across the main ideas rather than delve into technical details.  The Q&A turned into a really good discussion about the issues that staff face trying to get their jobs done and how a solution needs to address better integration of business processes as well as the supporting IT applications. As a result of this discussion, I will meet some of the admin staff in the School of Chemistry to hear first hand examples of where our current processes cause problems.

I also met the Deputy Directors of Finance to discuss how enterprise architecture could simplify their IT.  Finance is a core support function and hence the finance IT systems have to integrate with many other IT applications across the University.  Currently, this is mostly done using point-to-point integrations, which results in a large number of different connections that all need to be maintained and supported.  We could simplify this by building reusable interfaces, which would in turn reduce costs and improve reliability.

Another presentation was to my fellow Heads of Sections across Information Services.  We have a quarterly meeting at which we discuss a range of issues, and at which one or two Section Heads give an overview of their sections.  This quarter it was my turn.  Thanks to my practice at several other meetings, I managed to get my core message down to ten minutes, which is something I couldn't have managed a few months ago.  Some of my colleagues had heard me speak before but this was a good opportunity to spread the message more widely.

The Procurement Office have recruited a new member of staff to liaise with IS.  I have met her briefly and will be meeting her again tomorrow to explore how we can work most effectively with suppliers while still following procurement guidelines.  From our initial conversation, it seems that we can do better than our current practice.  This could be really useful and I'm looking forward to taking this conversation forward.

If anyone else in the University wants to hear more about enterprise architecture and the benefits it can bring, or if you want to bring particular issues to my attention, please do get in touch.

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…