Insights From the Road

Ramsay Millar

Ramsay Millar is a globally recognized leader and mentor in the areas of closing the gaps between business and technology transformations. He is an expert in leading change and architecting business transformations that involve business architecture, enterprise architecture, business analysis and software development.

Ramsay leads, advises and mentors clients to work smarter and to improve quality and to make a real and lasting difference for business outcomes and technology outcomes.

Ramsay shares his insights by delivering workshops around the globe, offering speaking engagements and through this blog. Ramsay has been involved in successful business and IT outcomes as an early business architecture adopter in since 1989.

Learning about Business Architecture the hard way. - 2017-03-27
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I continually hear the following story from business leaders, "Our organization has recognized that our legacy IT systems are 1) expensive, 2) no longer competitive, 3) not meeting customer needs, 4) not flexible, 5) not able to integrate process and data across business silos, 6) do not provide operational metrics, business intelligence or internet capabilities."

When confronted with this perfect storm the leaders go on to make very costly mistakes by not managing information systems like any other strategic asset. For some reason, they think that buying solutions with the word enterprise in the title is all that is required. The political solution is to allow the business silos to purchase any assembly of solutions sold by enterprise vendors. But lately to my surprise I am hearing a change and a few C‐level managers are beginning to realize that ad hoc COTS solutions have caused increased costs and an increase in pain points, while countless un‐initiated keep stepping up to repeat the ad hoc solutions mistake.

If you ask the Governance, Risk and Compliance VP’s "Were you consulted about governance, risks or metrics related to these massive expenditures?" Or, "What metrics did you design before acquisition to see if these IT investments did meet the desired results?" Or, "Show us the enterprise risk management analysis?" You will be shocked to hear that these massive information system expenditures are very rarely measured, monitored or reported over time.

I call this "Learning about business architecture the hard way. Rapidly procured silo‐based enterprise solutions rarely utilize the skills of the enterprise or business architects. In my view, these organizations have now just missed a rare opportunity to leverage enterprise assets to build flexible and integrated SOA solutions for the future. Architected SOA solutions are highly cost effective and guarantee that an enterprise is on a firm footing to become a player in the next emerging economy.

Organizations need to treat Information and IT expenditures like any other business capability and bring in skilled Business Architects who understand how to leverage architecture frameworks (ie) TOGAF 9 to model the "as is" and "to be." These skilled people look for opportunities and solutions and then confidently perform migration strategy to deploy and build or buy aligned SOA solutions. Business architects are skilled business modelers who use a rigorous fact‐based language. Robust business reference models are available and used by business architects in many industries. These fact‐ based business models are usually a collection of TOGAF 9, OMG BMM, OMG SBVR, OMG UML, Erikson‐ Penker UML business patterns and other toolkits customized to meet the business needs. Without business architecture the best we may hope for is SOA silos. I am interested to hear from you on how you have mapped your SOA silos, or how you are moving to a more holistic view of business architecture to drive information and technology architectures and manage this area as a business capability.
Ramsay Millar

Who develops your Business Architecture? - 2016-11-01
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The third phase of innovation early majority for business architecture and SOA is beginning.

Recently I've read white papers on business architecture, BPM, business rules and SOA. As one of the judges for the Annual BPM Excellence Awards, I reviewed a large number of submissions from leading organizations worldwide. Every year international winners are chosen and a book published containing the papers of both winners and finalists. Last year’s papers were published in Delivering BPM Excellence.

Following my review I was left with a strong impression of the rapid growth towards transforming business models using business architecture and SOA. These diverse papers demonstrated a growing success well supported by a reputable body of consultants, best practices and tools which have risen to the challenge.

As the market, always searching for cost savings and increased revenues, realizes the stunning ROI and business benefits then we may have a new problem. Where do we find the analysts required to develop business architecture and transform business models needed to to develop aligned SOA solutions?

Who will help us to transform outmoded business models and move us toward effective service-centered business models that use customer driven business processes, agile business rules, operational metrics and business intelligence? I predict a rapidly growing shortage of skills in this field.

Recently I attended the international Building Business Capability (BBC 2011) conference. The conference is designed to help senior practitioners learn about innovative, state-of-the-art techniques from world-class practitioners. The BBC 2011 conference nearly doubled in attendance despite difficult economic times.

Those who attended BBC 2011 are the people who articulate, model and transform our organizations. They are the silent and humble business analysts who every year find many millions of dollars of revenue opportunities and operational savings. They are the quiet strategists, thinkers and analytical people who work for smart organizations that get it.

The BBC 2011 conference is an excellent conference since it combines four best practice into one week as follows.

  • The Business Analysis Forum – The official conference of International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). A cross-specialty conference for all aspects of business analysis chaired by by Kathleen Barrett, President of the IIBA.
  • The Business Rules Forum – Dedicated to Business Rules and Decisioning. Focused on how organizations can come to grips with rapid change, massive customization, and compliance in a truly scalable, traceable, manageable manner, chaired by Gladys Lam, Ronald Ross Business Rules Solutions
  • The Business Process Forum – Focused on the bottom line issue of enhancing the capability of process practitioners and business managers to better deliver improved business performance chaired by Roger Burlton, BP Trends.
  • Business Architecture Forum – Business Architecture, Business Analysis, Business Processes and Business Rules figure prominently in the Business Architecture forum co-chaired by the three amigos John Zachman, Zachman International, Ronald Ross, Roger Burlton.

I think we have found out "Where do we find the business analysts required to develop your business architecture". Now how do we find more of these highly valuable people soon?
Ramsay Millar

Thoughts on communicating Business Architecture - 2017-03-27
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Jack Welch, CEO left GE the world’s most valuable company due to his revolutionary management principles. Welch transformed GE from a manufacturing to a service centered business by embracing change and by creating a boundary-less organization with a focus on global communication. Boundary-less organizations understand that traditional boundaries between layers of management (vertical) and divisions between functional areas (horizontal) have stifled the flow of information and ideas.

For organizations that are aligned with the information age management principles established by Jack Welch, and others, the reality is that re-usable service oriented architecture (SOA) has proven to offer business agility and cost avoidance.

The third phase of Rogers innovation curve early majority for SOA is finally beginning to build. I would like to share some views with you that have helped me to communicate solution architectures (frameworks) with business stakeholders.

What does music and business process modeling have in common? Some of us may have seen a player piano. The songs are played automatically using a scroll of paper with punched holes. The paper role executes a sequence of notes on the piano strings(services). We don’t need to build a new piano for every new song. True agility is using BPMN scripts (constrained by business rules) to play different songs when adapting to change. Workflow diagrams may be used to execute new scenarios. No need to recode software applications for every new or changed song when adopting BPMN/SOA.

What’s the relationship between business models and business rules? Ronald Ross demonstrates a unique clarity and precision on how to speak a fact-based language of business. Check out his new book "Building Business Solutions" to learn more about factual business models. This book carefully steps from business strategy to business solution and then through business process models using externalized business rules to realize compelling business agility.

What’s the connection between Enterprise Business Architecture (EBA) and Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC)? Recently, the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in France predicted that enterprises that do not approach information management, in a coordinated manner, will fail in the first or second year at a rate of more than 90%. Based upon insights that EBA may solve risk (GRC) pain points we recently delivered briefings and listened to nearly forty GRC VP’s from fortune 100 companies. Our briefing was on leveraging EBA and GRC using frameworks like the Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), OMG (BMM, SBVR, BPMN and UML Business Modeling) using repository tools to manage knowledge modeling, traceability and reporting. What we found was a surprising resonance using EBA/GRC and SOA to solve the risk (GRC) pain points when applied to solution architecture assets. You may wish to communicate with your GRC people.

Who may help us to model and communicate the business model? Business Analysts are now developing their capabilities because of the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA) and the BABOK framework. Finally, Enterprise Business Architects are rapidly evolving their book of knowledge thanks to the Business Architecture Guild.
Ramsay Millar

The Business of Business Analysis - 2016-03-01
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How has the role of the business architect changed for the enterprise?

Enterprise Business Architecture

Business architecture practice traces back many years but practice leaders like myself are growing increasingly concerned that an open practice of business architecture is not maturing quickly enough to meet the insights of our business leaders and growing business demands.

Business enterprises, private and public, are operating in volatile times of instant communications, increasing automation, regulation changes, financial challenges, cyber security threats and demands for business flexibility. Business models are at risk. All of this is occurring against a backdrop in the US market with a shortage of 2.6 million knowledge workers. Labor analysts claim that the job of business analyst rates 11th in demand during a poor economy.

Business architecture involves "things" of interest to a business enterprise. Business architects take a holistic or systems thinking approach toward business solutions and do not throw technology at everything. Business models are very complex and multi-dimensional like (who, when, what, how, where, and why). Business architecture must address stakeholder concerns, capabilities, metrics, risk, business events, business processes, business rules and business services just to name a few.

Business architects demonstrate a unique ability to simplify and communicate terse business models. For example, I attended a talk at BBC 2012 named "Business Architecture Trends and Methods" presented by Andrew Guitarte, a gifted business architect. He shared valuable trends and methods practiced by Wells Fargo Bank.

More pragmatic books are now available "Business Architecture – A practical guide" by Whelan and Meaden. This book makes it easier to bring this important practice out of the cloud of words.

Business architecture practice is in the early adoption phase but at conferences like BA World 2012, BBC 2012 audiences are filling rooms to capacity. There is strong demand to learn more. Business architecture consultants/speakers are in high demand as I witnessed during my own presentations on "Business Architecture" at BA World 2012.

At no other time do we need to know the benefits of an open, more widely accepted business architecture practice than now. Who is developing a shared and open practice? Here are the tribes of business architecture worth watching in 2013.

Business Architecture Innovation Summit 2013 – Co-Sponsored by Object Management Group Business Architecture Special Interest Group & the Business Architecture Guild present a two-day practitioner-focused event. The Business Architecture Innovation Summit will feature business practitioners from industry and government to share stories about how they deployed business architecture in their organizations.

Building Business Capability 2013 – The BBC 2012 Business Architecture Forum was attended by gurus like Zachmann, Burlton, Ross & Silver to name a few. I also witnessed a wide array of high caliber speakers and papers. Growing at 40% every year BBC 2013 will be better than ever.

The Open Group, TOGAF 9, has contributed strong works on business transformation and business architecture semantics helping SOA to align with and serve business architectures. Conferences and books have strong support from business and public business leaders. What will TOGAF 10 contribute going forward?

Let’s watch how these tribes collaborate and work together to develop an open business architecture practice and standards we all need.
Ramsay Millar

Is a Business Architecture Reference model necessary? - 2015-03-01
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Designing an enterprise’s SOA to work with business initiatives is a significant challenge facing SOA projects. Besides web services and SOA implementations we must consider business intelligence from business processes. SOA solutions must deliver business flexibility for rapidly changing processes, business and data rules in a coordinated manner for both people and machines.

Managing business and IT architecture models are strategic business capabilities and they need to be held directly accountable to meet strategic outcomes. Communicating models and working together is how we will be measured in order to realize the dreams of SOA of flexibility, cost savings and profits.

A business model is rewarded through attention to operational excellence. How do we get operational excellence? The service quality movement led by Edward Deming at Toyota, proven in the US by Jack Welch at GE in manufacturing and the lately in the services economy. SOA projects need to resonate with "service quality" practices. We need to explore frameworks for describing semantic business vocabulary models. The OMG Business Motivation Model (BMM) and TOGAF Business Architecture are a good beginning. We need to describe the implied semantic business model using a holistic or systems thinking approach when designing business solutions (a people and machines collaboration view) and avoid continuing SOA project failures.

Recently, I researched for this article using LinkedIn. To read all comments I urge you to join these groups. I posted my question on a number of LinkedIn forums. The most informed discussions, came from The Business Architecture Community, The Open Group, TOGAF for Architecture, and Gartner Enterprise Architecture (Xchange). Business architects wrote emphatically, "yes". I was deluged by excellent comments and in a nutshell.. Here are the main themes I read summarized as follows.

  • "Business architecture reference models provide a holistic picture first to ensure the value created through the SOA projects fits into the big picture and aligns to strategy of business operations and initiatives".
  • "I consider a business reference architecture a key model for any type of project. I use reference architecture to support SOA project as well. All SOA solution blueprints were created based on the reference architecture and used through solution architecture review (governance) process and adjusted throughout the SDLC."
  • "Yes, it is a critical component for SOA projects. Per the Open Group, the enterprise architecture (under which the business architecture is a key pillar) addresses the overall construction of the enterprise."
  • "I agree with those of you who underline the importance of traceability links joining from business capabilities toward SOA components." The TOGAF business architecture meta model needs to evolve and measure impacts of strategic changes (driver, goal, objective). Business capabilities also need to be structured and related to service level agreements (SLAs). At the implementation level we need to see direct linkage from business capabilities and SLAs that are orchestrated by business processes (people and machines).

In closing I found some of the most very good work on integrating business architecture frameworks by Birol Berkem. He recently published at http://goobiz.com/From_BMM_to_SOA.htm. What are your views and concerns?
Ramsay Millar

Acceleration without sacrificing quality - 2011-03-01
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Using best practice techniques and a full life cycle CASE tool to speed up major enterprise business architecture projects without sacricing quality.

 

THE CHALLENGE

Project managers from a major international consulting firm faced tight deadlines for creating an extremely complex public/private sector business and technology solution under very tight deadlines. This new service would provide health insurance services to state citizens, primarily using software and the internet. The business solution of this high-profile service would require seamlessly linking the online public simultaneously with several private-sector partners with real-time access to massive databases hosted in other jurisdictions. This project was under a media microscope from the day it was announced. Reputations were at stake – both for the client and for the contractors.

 

THE RESPONSE

This case study describes in detail how skilled project managers used a combination of a carefully selected CASE tools best practice techniques, reusable reference models and rigorous team training to accelerate development of the new service. This project acceleration enabled the project team to prevail over short deadlines – building in time to test the system and make adjustments prior to a glitch free launch.
Ramsay Millar