The number one IT issue for all enterprises today is delivery – responding to business demand for change in ever faster timescales, at lower cost. But in the typical large enterprise, IT is widely perceived to be incapable of responding in a reasonable timeframe and cost. There are many, many reasons for this. Existing application portfolios are frequently a complete mess typically resulting from continual compromises made in order to deliver rapid business change, which commonly result in duplication, inconsistency and increased dependencies. Enterprise architecture typically fails to deliver realizable guidance to delivery teams. Delivery projects are commonly driven by narrow focus, exclusively business centric goals. I could go on.
Because business as usual (BAU) doesn’t deliver, we can observe the “initiative count” increasing exponentially. Initiatives are top management driven demands for results that are frequently outside of the momentum plan. For example, narrow focused Agile projects; mobile IT and BYOD; SaaS projects; package acquisitions; M&A, BPO, outsourcing and offshoring projects etc. Or technology focused adventures such as application level modernization. And what usually happens is the initiatives become the new silos, which in turn contribute to the ongoing maintenance and integration nightmare.
Over the past decade most large enterprises have established architecture as a key discipline precisely because of the situation described above. EA in particular was always intended to provide a “city planning” perspective, coordinating across domains to ensure consistent business processes and information and to govern standard infrastructure and shared services where appropriate. In many organizations EA has actually been disestablished because it was perceived as not adding business value. In other organizations EA has minimal influence on delivery programs because of the lack of interest in “doing things right” and the over-riding imperative to deliver as quickly as possible, regardless of downstream consequences.
Recognize the picture? The problem is that for most organizations there is no BAU. So the result is that stand alone initiatives become the only way to get rapid results, but the inevitable outcome is that the ability to change the core business is in steep decline. Short term “project agility” is confused with “ongoing business agility”.
The way forward is to view the IT Delivery as a Value Chain. You can’t focus on just one part of the chain such as Agile projects, you need to see the bigger picture and “manage” the way you respond such that business AND IT goals are achieved.