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.

There have been many blogs that argue whether SOA is an IT only initiative or a business initiative. Regardless of who or what is driving SOA, one way to maximize your investment is to align SOA with your company's project portfolio (hopefully you have one).

Let's think about that last statement for a second....

...align SOA with your company's project portfolio.

The value that Project Portfolio Management (PPM) brings to the table is that if done right, PPM ensures that the company focuses its assets (people, products & services, hardware & software, etc.) on initiatives that align with company strategies. Now if you have everyone working on the right projects, the next logical step is to focus your architecture on the projects that bring the greatest value. If the PMO (Project Management Office) does its job and helps the business manage its project portfolio(s), then the architecture team can align with the business to maximize the value of SOA.

I recommend that a company has more then one portfolio. I will use a fictitious company called Acme Toys to demonstrate why.

Acme Toys is a 30 year old toy manufacturer who has a new CEO. The CEO is charged with doubling revenue in the next five years and removing waste from the operational aspects of the business. The IT team has recently implemented SOA and BPM and is starting to reach a modest level of SOA maturity. They have an effective governance model in place that they are constantly refining and have a few high profile projects under their belt. The next step for IT is to figure out where to leverage SOA next.

The CEO gathered his leadership team and put forth a strategy to meet his goals of doubling revenue and improving processes. The CIO and the Head of the PMO proposed creating four separate portfolios to be funded and staffed separately. The picture below illustrates the recommended portfolios.

The growth portfolio is where the company manages the projects that enable the company to double its revenue over the next five years. Within each portfolio there are programs. Programs can be defined as a collection of projects. In other words, a program is a strategy that maps to a goal, while a project is a tactic for delivering the strategy. Here is an example of a Growth Portfolio:
You can see from this example that B2C (Business to Consumer) is a program or strategy. Underneath that program is a list of projects that help deliver the strategy.

The next portfolio is the Optimize Portfolio. In this portfolio Acme Toys focuses its resources on operational efficiencies. Below is an example of what this portfolio might look like.

Acme Toys still needs to keep the lights on so the PMO recommended an Infrastructure Portfolio where IT can drive and manage upgrades, cost reductions, and modernization of its IT services and assets, as well as, deliver compliance or regulatory type projects like SOX or PCI Compliance.
And finally, Acme Toys needs to drive innovation in new products. They have a separate Research and Development team that prototypes various new potential products. This team's charter is to prove out the viability of new product ideas before the company makes huge investments in manufacturing and IT to productionize the product.

That rounds out the four portfolios. Now the IT team has clear direction on where the company is going over the next 12-24 months and can start looking at aligning SOA with the various portfolios. For the sake of this example, let's say that the architect team has enough bandwidth to contribute to two of the four portfolios. It is likely that IT would choose to align with the CEO's goals of growth and optimization. This allows IT to focus its efforts on the programs within those portfolios. The architecture team assigns a group of solutions architects to the Growth Portfolio. They now have a roadmap of projects to start identifying candidate services. With this 12-24 month roadmap of projects provided by the PMO, the architects can then prioritize the candidate services based on business value and potential reuse. By front loading highly reusable candidate services, the architect team can reduce the amount of new development required for future projects. Here is an example.
After analyzing the list of projects for the next 12-24 months, the architect team built a SOA roadmap. They identified two candidate services that would be used in every single project. The first candidate is a product lookup service and the second candidate service pertains to authentication. These two services will be prioritized high and addressed in the first project so the work can be reused in all of the subsequent projects.
The architecture team staffs the Optimize Portfolio with another group of solutions architects. They follow the same process for identifying candidate services for the project roadmap within their portfolio. The enterprise architects provide oversight for both of these portfolios to enforce governance and to take on building or modifying any enterprise wide services that are identified within the projects. The solutions architects work on the application or process specific services.

To wrap up this long post, I hope I have made it clear how Project Portfolio Management can be a great asset to the architecture team in their quest to further entrench SOA into the enterprise. PPM provides a clear vision into corporate strategy which the architecture team can leverage to maximize the value of SOA. I would love to hear your thoughts on PPM and SOA.


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