Knowing What You Have Supports Planning

Enterprise Architects all over the world build guiding principles to support their practices and planning. We built one in 2005 and it still holds true today.

“Reuse before Acquire, Acquire before Create, Create Reusable Components”

The big problem with this is that it is all “Motherhood and Apple Pie” unless you do the hard work and determine what you actually have.  There is no way to get around this work and focusing on the future state will not allow you to make tangible changes to ensure your technology service delivery is sustainable.  Without this data, I don’t believe you can conduct a meaningful planning exercise.

Last summer, I had the honour to be selected as the new Director of Information at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. In my 5 months here, we have made great strides forward in implementing practical approaches to IT Service Management and the beginnings of an Enterprise Architecture (ok, more realistically an IT Architecture!).

There are many debates about capturing the Current State of your Enterprise Architecture.  For a good discussion, see my post Do you need to create an As-Is State?

Over the past month, my team and I have been planning our next 12 months of service delivery.  Since we started with no documented IT architecture, we began by taking an inventory of all the IT infrastructure and software in our portfolio.  We built an Excel workbook with all our assets and assigned a replacement cost and useful life to each item.   From there, we derived a multi-year capital renewal requirements plan for the next 6 years.  We were able to look at our capital budget by using our multi-year capital renewal plan and begin planning for the next two years.

Having this data allows us to make fact based decisions about:

  • Available funding sources – operating vs capital budgets – What can we afford?
  • Useful life of IT assets – What must we replace or retire?
  • IT Staff Availability – Who can do the work while maintaining our core services?

Some of the decisions we made based on these facts were:

  • Advance or delay renewal projects
  • Introduce new technology to provide new services
  • Introduce new technology to replace obsolete technology
  • Retire and remove old technology
  • Extend the useful life of a technology
  • Manage complexity by reducing the number of technology stacks in our portfolio

As we move forward, this multi-year detailed budget planning model will be our default source to support our planning efforts.  It will enable us to focus on using what we have and to manage  complexity by eliminating technologies that provide similar functionality.