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 are many critical success factors for implementing SOA. They range from strong executive sponsorship and business alignment to acquiring the proper talent and implementing the right amount of governance. But even if you have all of those ducks in a row, it all comes down to the basics of project management and leadership. The biggest challenges that I see implementing SOA are the same challenges that I have seen throughout my career implementing any other large initiative. This article called Avoiding Project Failure: It's not Rocket Science, gives an overview of the things that typically go wrong:

Typical problems here are scope creep, poor work-plan, lack of change control, poor communication and poor management of risks and issues.
The article goes on to state a few more killers:

There are many occasions during the lifecycle of a project for issues that may lead to failure. Examples of these include:

  • Failure to define the requirements clearly, resulting in expectations not being met
  • Cutting edge or new technology that causes unforeseen problems
  • A poor technical design preventing the solution from being changed or scaled in the future
  • Poor change control allowing change requests to cause the project to drift
  • Changing priorities diverting attention away from core work
Since implementing SOA can be a culture changing event, the basic change management principles must be applied to prevent derailing the entire initiative. Here is a summary of the high points of this article:

  1. Address the human-side systematically
  2. Top level support
  3. Involve every layer
  4. Clearly communicate the business case
  5. Create ownership, install change agents
  6. Clearly and continually communicate the message
  7. Assess the cultural impacts
  8. Address cultural issues
  9. Prepare for the unexpected
  10. Define WIIFM (What's in it for me?) for each individual
I know that early in my SOA initiative, I spent most of my time digging into the technology. Once we defined what our target architecture was going to be, my role changed dramatically. I turned most of my architecture duties over to my enterprise architects and started focusing my energy on the project deliverables and the change management. I can tell you from personal experience that figuring out the target architecture was a cakewalk compared to what I am dealing with now.

So while many people lose sleep over the technical challenges of SOA, I stay awake at night worrying about scope creep, top level support, cultural issues, risk lists, and action items. If I put enough smart people in a "war room" I know we can tackle any technology problem, but coordinating the work of all these people is where the challenge is. The big challenge in my eyes is that SOA forces many different departments (inside and outside of IT) to work together as one cohesive team. This is not a technology issue, it is a people issue. So for those of you early on in your quest for SOA, don't under estimate the importance of project management and change management.


  1. belle.me09  

    These are great tips and insights. As what this article: http://www.coursework4you.co.uk/critical_sucess_factors_csf.htm explained, critical success factors are important in leading the way to one's success.

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