Knowing What You Have Supports Planning

by | February 22, 2013

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.

2 thoughts on “Knowing What You Have Supports Planning

  1. Peter

    Nice in principle. The local state government has a “borrow before buy before build” mantra. Unfortunately, this often does not take into consideration that they are somewhat of a niche market, and as such, their requirements tend to mandate a bespoke solution. That said, I have spoken with some ea’s in this space about why they are using internationally accepted standards as part of their design, and NIH ( not invented here) seems to be highly prevalent. Why is that so.? The egos of EAs who would rather the kudos of saying, “I designed this” than ” I took his design, expanded on it, and fed back the enhancements, with appropriate attribution”.

    1. Leo de Sousa Post author

      Peter thanks for taking the time to read my blog and providing your insights. I agree about your “borrow” modification. In higher education, we are also facing the same budget cuts with increased service expectations that you see in local state governments. Interesting observation about the EA egos. I haven’t run into this as much as you seem to have. I have seen from our techincal folks that they want to build everytime and the real challenge for an Enterprise Architect is helping to show the full cost of a proposed solution. There are times when it makes good sense to build. I would suggest those times are when the service being delivered is core to the mission of your business. Thanks again for your feedback. I really appreciate the dialogue.


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