Capital allocation, i.e., deciding on investments, is probably the most important responsibility of the top management of any organization. This is no easy matter. Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and probably the most successful investor of the 20th century, described this in his 1987 letter to shareholders: Read more
Business Process Management
“Business Process Management is old school; Business Analysis is the new hype”. Huh…? With all terminology and current trends, it is easy to get confused. If you ask five different people to clear things up, you will probably get five different explanations. It is all about definitions. In this blog I will distinguish Business Analysis from Business Process Management. Read more
Imagine you are asked to define business requirements and constraints for a set of business rules as part of the design of a solution. What approach would you use?
Strategy execution remains a challenging task for many organizations. The ‘Digital Enterprise’ requires major business transformations, delivered at speed. Most organizations are in a constant state of change. The ‘unfreeze-change-freeze’ model, reasoning from the current to a desired future state, no longer applies; the current state is always in flux and the future state is a moving target. Read more
As outlined in another blog, architecture-based enterprise portfolio management plays a crucial role in an integrated business transformation approach. Portfolio management is responsible for allocating investments to various asset categories and for creating a healthy project and program portfolio mix that realizes the organizational goals. There should be a balance in, for example, the types of projects (development, research, etc.) and long-term and short-term projects.
Be honest, do you consider yourself a great decision maker? I believe, with a few exceptions, that many people are not able to make optimal decisions. Why you might ask? Well, the answer is quite simple: people don’t have the time to collect and analyze all the available data and information from information systems in your organization, suppliers, customers and other external sources.
“Many stakeholders consider their organization as unique.” Depending on the level of abstraction you take as viewpoint, you can argue this statement is either right or wrong. It is interesting from an enterprise architecture perspective to understand why stakeholders stress this uniqueness and what are the benefits of understanding where the organization really is different from others. Read more
A major challenge facing business today is how to harness the creative abilities and business knowledge of its employees to gain strategic advantages over its competitors that in turn result in significant increases in profitable sales and or reduction in business costs.
The hype on cloud computing makes expectations rise. What’s the role of the IT department in general? And the role of an architect in particular? Recently there was a very successful seminar on Enterprise Architecture in Healthcare at BiZZdesign’s Dutch Amersfoort office. We discussed this topic with attendees and the conclusion are presented in this blog post.
We have all experienced moments where we have had to make a big or important decision, without any form of guidance, help, or support. It’s a well-known fact that managers make many decisions based on gut feeling. This may be fine for smaller decisions, but what about big(ger) strategic decisions? Informed decision making is becoming a trend, with many organizations dispelling gut-based decisions and incorporating tools and analytics to help reach the best possible decision.
During Business Process Management trainings, people often ask me about the best modeling technique: How to model a process model? Where do I begin? Top-down or bottom-up process? Questions that many of you have asked yourselves when beginning to design a process model. In this blog I would like to take you along with me to the world of top-down or bottom-up modeling. Let me start by clarifying some frequently used terms. Then, I will share several personal experiences and my preferred method of working.
Sharing knowledge and good practices is one of the core values of BiZZdesign. We regularly organize and contribute to online and offline seminars, conferences and round tables. We recently had a very successful seminar on Enterprise Architecture in Dutch healthcare. After presentations on “Dilemma’s for Architects”, based on the relation between physical and digital architecture in healthcare and “Data Management”, we had a debate to discuss associated topics further with our attendees. Please share your good and worst practices by reacting to this blog.
Over centuries, we have seen architects and engineers leading innovation. The Romans building ingenious aqueducts, the construction of the Canal du Midi and the Eiffel Tower in France, or more recently the Norman Foster’s Millau viaduct or landmark buildings like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao by Frank Gehry. Buildings that inspire and stretch technological possibilities. Ideas that have literally shaped construction and design, and transformed their surroundings. Read more
The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) is the most popular framework for developing an enterprise architecture (EA). It is an open standard and may be used freely by any organization wishing to develop an enterprise architecture for use within that organization. BiZZdesign believes in an EA approach that is based on open standards and frameworks. We combine and pre-package frameworks and standards like TOGAF and ArchiMate as an accelerated approach to jump-start customers’ EA programs. In this blog we will explain how we use TOGAF as framework, apply it in practice, with the goal of doing business-outcome-driven EA.
Earlier this week, a large Dutch insurance company got itself into the national headlines after mixing up sensitive customer data. By mistake, over 2,500 participants in a large-scale medical research received an e-mail with information that was intended for other participants.
“In creating and handling the data, we made a mistake. This way we accidentally coupled the wrong information to the e-mail addresses of the research participants”. According to the insurance company, this was a “human error’’, and not an error in the organization’s system, which was tested extensively. Read more
Very few organizations have a systematic and reliable way of translating a business strategy into action across all relevant elements of the organization. Implementing a long-term plan by successive decomposition, design and realization steps is only possible in stable circumstances. Classical top-down strategy implementation cannot keep up with the transformation speed required in a rapidly changing environment.
Over the past years many organizations have been working with an Agile method for software development, providing the design team and development team with a particularly important role. Within several projects in which I was involved I had the chance to experience this from up close. In this blog I would like to share five top tips to help a design team efficiently and effectively perform within an Agile environment. Read more
Until quite recently, IT security was exclusively the domain of security specialists. However, in the last couple of years, organizations have started to realize that IT-related risks cannot be seen in isolation, and should be considered as an integral part of Enterprise Risk and Security Management (ERSM). ERSM includes methods and techniques used by organizations to manage all types of risks related to the achievements of their objectives.
Business architecture is a challenging capability. Designing the business, optimizing its processes and streamlining the way information is collected and used is very interesting, but most of all very difficult. I read a very interesting blog post by KLM’s SVP e-commerce Mr. Martijn van der Zee: “I Have a Lack of Strategic Vision” in which he points out that strategic visions in PowerPoint won’t cut-it for Air France-KLM in the digital era we are in today. He gives a number of reasons why long-term strategic plans are not working for him:
- Vision documents or strategy PowerPoints are drafted from an internal perspective (the company, or the department of a specific employee).
- These documents present a simplified overview of what’s happening in the outside world.
- The author would feel really good about the document and would confuse strategic vision and effort with progress.
“In this new digital world, nobody knows where we’re going. The only way to get a glimpse of what’s happening is by trying to understand what our customer wants, build a working prototype and test it in the real world. Fail fast and often. PowerPoints won’t help you do that; building, testing and tweaking will.”
Projects and experiments are all part of a learning cycle in organizations. John Boyd introduced the OODA-loop to express a decision cycle of observe, orient, decide, and act. Since the speed of opportunities passing by is increasing, your organization need to speed up its OODA-cycle. How do you contribute to the OODA-loop of your organization?
The classic Architects view
Architects typically will argue that the temporary websites and databases behind the suggested prototypes tend to stay a little longer than innovators and project managers promise when deploying them. Architects know all about legacy, organic growth of organizations and their application landscapes, as well as the enormous efforts it will take to rationalize these landscapes. Architects prefer to craft a plan up-front, discuss the underlying principles (hoping to get them approved by senior management), design an integral picture of the preferred future, analyze the impact of the proposed changes and then start projects.
The internal focus and lack of speed in this approach are brought to the table by KLM’s Martijn van der Zee mentioned above. MIT’s Joi Ito goes even further in his TED-talk on innovation in the era of the Internet, by stating that the Internet is fundamentally changing the way we innovate. The old-school “MBA-way of innovation” is way to slow and does not benefit from the connected world we are in today.
Okay, right… but what does that mean for the way we are architecting (in) organizations?
The alternative: Contribute to flexibility and scalability
- Architects in the New Normal should not hit the breaks on innovation, but facilitate innovation with all means they have at hand. By creating and presenting reusable building blocks (e.g. standard processes, information bundles, application services, technical standards), architects contribute to speeding up experiments. The more well-documented reusable building blocks you have available, the faster you can chain them into a working prototype with added steps/functionality to be bought (from the cloud) or build.
- Architects in the New Normal should be able to engage with people that prefer other communication and learning styles then the one they prefer. “Doing” and “Concrete experience” is what business managers typically prefer, where architects prefer a style oriented on “Thinking”, and in some cases “Observation and reflection”. There is no wrong or right in these learning styles, it just helps you to take a different approach and go through all steps of learning to maximize the learning experience. In many cases good is good enough. Work with Pareto-principle in mind and understand that in fast moving environments an 80% sketch of a design is good enough to run an experiment and learn a lot.
- Architects in the New Normal should have a vision on speed. What are the fast moving processes and channels in the organization and where do we need to maximize stability? Also architects in the New Normal should provide a set of criteria to help business managers decide on scaling up an experiment, including scenarios on the integration or re-engineering of functionality that was developed in a stand-alone experiment, to have it fit with the rest of the application landscape. Scalability is a key challenge, both for start-ups as well as for experiments in larger organizations.
Business architecture techniques help you in this process. BiZZdesign applies these techniques in the tools, training and consultancy we provide. We strongly believe Business architecture capabilities should be focussing on the creation of business value from rationalization and optimization as well as from growth and innovation.
Nowadays, organizations operate in a dynamic and fast changing environment which makes formulating a consistent strategy very challenging and executing that strategy even more difficult. More than half of organizations surveyed in previous economic studies indicated that they have not been successful at executing strategic initiatives. Moreover, a majority of organizations face problems when executing their strategic vision. Read more