Capping IT Off

Capping IT Off

Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

How to ensure IT Projects deliver Enterprise value?

Category : Architecture

Question:

  • What are the key Architecture related aspects that can increase the overall value of IT Projects for an enterprise organisation?
  • What type of Architecture capability is needed?
  • What are the key measures from an Architecture perspective?

Answer:

Many medium and large enterprise organisations struggle ensuring that their IT change programs (by IT change program I refer to all IT projects being deployed) meeting enterprise related “value for money”. Reports, surveys and assessments analysing the reason of cost overrun, missed milestones or cancelled projects, have found a number of root causes: lack of focus, content and skills execution issues are often named as key reasons [2].

In addition enterprise organisations have difficulties in keeping oversight of projects and programs, typically due to the complexity of the current project landscape. This adds additional pressure to ensuring IT Projects deliver value to the Project Sponsor as well as to the enterprise organisation.

As noted in our 2014 Application report [2] there are several suggestions and proposals that should help to address a number of the cited challenges. In addition to the measures suggested, there are also Enterprise Architecture related aspects that can help ensuring that projects and programs are delivering value for money.

The Challenge

For many organisations IT Projects may deliver value against the set requirements, however sometimes can fail to drive real value from an enterprise perspective. This can be a result of the high number of programs and projects executed at the same time, very aggressive time frames, the lack of a clear future business operation model and related business strategy, as well as the current IT landscape is changing in a reactive manner and so is not able to accommodate all changes in a fashion that takes other non-project / enterprise related issues into account.

As solutions have been delivered on a project by project basis and to a large part to individual business units in isolation, the underlying IT environment has been built in a silo’ed fashion resulting in:

  • a complex set of solutions with many interdependencies;
  • an IT infrastructure that includes legacy systems, standard packages and tailor-made software with many point-to-point interfaces
  • a lack of joined up management information;
  • duplication of functionality in the various systems and solutions;
  • a high proportion of bespoke solutions with some heavily customised COTS[1] products;
  • very little use of “sharable” common solutions/platform/application components.

The result of this situation is that:

  • more and more costs are sunk into the operational maintenance of the environment, which means that less and less money is available for new infrastructure components;
  • continual business improvement and new initiatives are inhibited by IT due to the slow and costly nature of implementing change;
  • things have been made worse by projects attempting to deliver in an isolated fashion to bypass inhibitors – but this has only resulted in further constraints for subsequent projects in the medium term;
  • the IT environment is lacking in agility – every new strategic initiative is like starting from scratch;
  • there are different business processes completing the same activity across the company, each with a different system;
  • staff has great difficulty in locating key business related information;
  • management is unclear whether they are receiving value for money from the IT environment;

 The “Solution”

As noted above there are a number of challenged and root causes that need addressing to ensure that all projects deliver real value. For the purpose of this post I will only focus on Enterprise Architecture related aspects.

To ensure that project and programs deliver value to an Enterprise Organisation there are 3 key aspects to actively manage:

  • Solution
  • Governance and
  • Plan

Therefore the following Enterprise Architecture related measures should be applied:

  1. Create Program Design Authority incl appropriate Solution Lifecycle Governance
  2. Install Architecture capability and
  3. Maintain a solid business, application to IT As-Is repository
  4. Maintain an overall Enterprise wide Plan

It is important to note that just executing these in isolation seldom achieves significant benefits if project related basics (in terms of people, process and standards) are not in place.

Read my next post where I will be providing more details. 

Thanks for Reading!

About the Author: Gunnar Menzel has been an IT professional for over 25 years and is the VP and Chief Architect Officer for Capgemini’s Infrastructure Business. Gunnar is also currently the President for the Open Data Centre Alliance. His main focus is business- enabling technology innovation

[1] COTS = Commercial Off the Shelf Products
[2] Capgemini Application Report 2014, https://www.uk.capgemini.com/thought-leadership/application-landscape-report-2014
[3] The Integrated Architecture Framework Explained, van't Wout, J., Waage, M., Hartman, H., Stahlecker, M., Hofman, 2010, Springer (see link here)

About the author

Gunnar Menzel, VP Enterprise Architect
Gunnar Menzel, VP Enterprise Architect

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