Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.

I have been blogging about my SOA & BPM implementation for the past few months. My earlier posts talked about how we sold SOA to the business, the vendor evaluation process, and our bottom up approach. We have been partnering with a SOA implementation consulting company for the past 10 weeks practicing an agile approach to delivery. In this short time frame we have installed our stack (BPMS, ESB, Data Services) and built a beta version of a B2B portal. Life is good!

So why can't I sleep at night? Because I have only a few months to ramp my organization up to take this over from our consulting partners. This may be the biggest challenge of implementing SOA that we have faced so far! We have formed a business process management organization in the business and hired our first Process Analyst. I feel good about that. We created a team of architects including a testing architect to help build out and govern the architecture. I feel good about that. We have access to network and hardware architects and moved someone into the role of administering the stack. Real happy there! But that was the easy part.

The hard part will be getting the rest of the organization on board with SOA. There are numerous challenges. First, SOA introduces numerous new roles and responsibilities for our staff. We will have to move from being SMEs (subject matter experts) in an application to becoming SMEs in a layer of the architecture (see chart below)
Second, we are moving away from our current methodology which is slightly waterfall in nature to a more agile and iterative approach. We are currently ramping up to implement our governance model.

But the biggest challenge is organizational change management. SOA concepts are drastically different then the way we currently develop applications. We are moving away from thinking about stovepipe applications and moving towards building business services. We still have some legacy apps that are written in VB6. For the folks maintaining those apps, they have not been exposed to web services yet. The world of testing changes drastically with this layered and loosely coupled approach. The DBAs now need to create a logical representation of data to hide the complexity of the joins and relationships from the services. The business analysts role is practically a different skill set now. Traditionally, our project managers have been assigned to applications and work side by side with the development manager who has a fixed team of resources. With SOA, we are moving more towards the classic PM role where the PM drafts a team from a pool of resources. I could go on and on.

So as you can see, every single person's role is changing. At the same time, we have a third party who is cranking out code faster then we ever dreamed of. We are unintentionally setting an expectation that we will be able to move this fast once we take this over. We are not getting incremental head count so we need to figure out how to transform our existing staff from application SMEs to specialists within the architecture over the next few months.

Anyone who has been responsible for managing culture changing initiatives understands the challenges that this presents. For each individual, we must answer WIIFM (what's in it for me) , how will this help the business, what's wrong with the way we do it now, and many other questions that cause resistance when left unanswered. At the same time we need to quickly educate everyone on SOA. Meanwhile, everyone has a current full time job and are assigned to existing projects.

A while back I wrote an article about the role of the enterprise architect. Many people only consider the technology side of the equation. There are days where I don't even have time to deal with technology. Some days are spent evangelizing to create more buy-in throughout the organization. Other days are spent working with business owners on a plan to reprioritize projects to free resources up to work on our SOA initiatives. And even more days are spent working with the development managers on plans to free up resources for temporary assignments (learning opportunities) on SOA projects.

So as we continue down the road with our SOA implementation, I have discovered that the most challenging part of the project thus far is adapting to change. The technology part seems easy compared to this. I will write more about this as we work through future opportunities and challenges.


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My favorite sayings

"If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there"

"Before you build a better mouse trap, make sure you have some mice"