Enterprise Architecture


The opening panel this morning is "Getting Buy-In for Enterprise Architecture." The moderator is Melissa Chapman (CIO, HHS). The panelists are Steve Perkins (SVP, Oracle), Felix Rausch (FEAC Institute), Carla von Bernewitz (Dir. of Enterprise Integration Office, US Army), and Barry West (CIO National Wwather Service).

Enterprise architecture is, at its heart about sharing resources, data, etc. Barry says that the first thing to come out of enterprise architecture at NWS is a comprehensive inventory of their IT assets. This has allowed NWS to make better business decisions and not just about IT. Many agencies have concentrated on integrating business systems over the integration of mission or program systems. I think that's because the former is much harder to get done. If you plan right, program system will integrate as they are replaced, but business systems are in a constant state of being replaced, a little at a time. If you don't have a program to integrate business systems, it can't happen through incremental purchasing.

IT Managers seeking to create an enterprise architecture can't succeed unless they have on-going, regular executive involvement. One sign that this is happening is organizational change. If the organization isn't changing then your enterprise architecture isn't taking hold. This creates a challenge for many organizations who are afraid of organizational change. People should be moved into new roles, old roles should be deleted. This implies that training is an important component of and enterprise architecture.

Data standardization, as part of the enterprise architecture, hasn't gotten much traction. Felix says that no one's going to get money to do data architectures so it has to be dressed up in programs. Steve says you have to start with the data (he's from Oracle, what do you expect?). Melissa says the problem is too many data standards. That exactly the point, I think. Data architecture isn't just about creating standards. Data architecture is about data modeling.

Steve Carlton (CIO, GSA) says that enterprise architecture is perceived by the business side as just another planning tool in an environment where there are many planning methods. Carla says that it needs to be integrated into the business side, not just the planning, but the programming and budgeting side as well. If it happens bottom-up, you'll get what you always got. Enterprise architecture needs to be driven top-down. Felix says "if the CIO isn't in bed with the CFO, you're not accomplishing." Taking that further, the entire executive team needs to be aligned. Barry says that NWS took the enterprise architecture process out of the CIO's office and put it in their institutional planning office.

Steve uses GE as an example of driving integration by using a process to choose which system should be shared and standardized and which operational system need to be unique. Of course this can backfire. We had a long series of meetings in Utah in 2001 to try to reach some understanding about this. In the end, the only system people could agree should be consolidated was email and even that failed to happen because in the end people were unwilling to give up even that little bit of control.