My friend and colleague Todd Biske has recently published a must read book about SOA Governance. Most books that discuss process can require a ton of caffeine in order to make it from cover to cover. Not this book! Todd uses a unique style of combining a story of a fictional company along with his well served advice. He walks us through a multi year SOA project with a fictional insurance company called Advasco. Advasco, like many of the companies that we work for, has years of silo legacy applications that are the direct result of acquisitions, mergers, and years of developing in silos. The goal of their initiative was to "provide sales agents and marketing staff for the insurance division with a single view of the customer".
Todd takes us through the evolution which spans five years. Over this time, you can see the company make continual strides towards the overall vision but not without challenges. With each challenge comes another opportunity to mature their governance model. At the end of the book, Advasco's IT staff have made a major impact to the company's bottom line and ability to react to market changes. This is one of the few books that actually shows us what success looks like. This is why the book is so good. Many books talk about processes, structure, and controls but fail provide us with a glimpse into what the fruits of that labor looks like. Todd takes us from project inception, to successes, to set backs, to mitigation strategies, and ultimately to enterprise wide success. By taking us through this journey we can get a better understanding of the impact of the recommendations that he makes for SOA Governance. I won't go into details on what he recommends. I will let you read it yourself. But I can guarantee that you will enjoy the book and will be able to relate your real world experiences with the experiences of the fictional characters who helped move Advasco forward by leveraging SOA.
What made Advasco successful?
If you follow everything that Todd recommends in this book, you still are not guaranteed success. There were some specific events and characteristics that made this journey a success. Here is a short list:
- Initiative was driven top down
- Very little resistance to change
- Great working relationship with business and IT
- Very talented staff that was willing to learn
- Effective EA team
- Project was business focused
SOA Governance is a must read for any company preparing for SOA or for companies struggling to make their SOA initiative successful. Follow the advice and examples that Todd provides but also address the bullets I listed above. If you have the great staff that Advasco has you will find success. But in the real world, the effort to promote this type of change in the enterprise will usually require much more focus on change. At the SOA Consortium meeting last month in Orlando, Todd provided us with a great presentation about SOA Governance. I followed that up with this presentation on change.
If you focus on Organizational Change Management and heed Todd's advice on SOA governance, your odds of succeeding with SOA will be greatly enhanced. Buy the book, it is the best book on governance that I have read so far.