Posts Tagged process mapping

Architecting the Enterprise

Had a very useful and interesting meeting with Phil George and Laurie Nicholls today. Phil was bringing us up to speed on the work he has been doing around documenting the existing systems architecture. Laurie and I are keen to see where we could perhaps make some progress around Enterprise Architecture and Service Orientated Architecture.

A definition of Enterprise Architecture is “…enterprise architectures are blueprints for systematically and completely defining an organization’s current (baseline) or desired (target) environment. Enterprise architectures are essential for evolving information systems and developing new systems that optimize their mission value. This is accomplished in logical or business terms (e.g., mission, business functions, information flows, and systems environments) and technical terms (e.g., software, hardware, communications)…” from here.

Laurie and I are keen to make some progress towards SOA but recognise that to do it ‘big bang’ is costly and takes time. It also requires clarity on processes. What Phil was able to show us was a way to get to a version 0.1 of the current state using existing descriptions of high level functions (effectively definitions of high level services) that we could then map onto existing systems and the underlying IT layer.

Whilst this is still several months worth of work, it will allow us to make more progress much more quickly than I was anticipating. We will then be able to test the 0.1 view to see if it makes sense from a service perspective, and we can refine the systems and technology layers.

The work then is to identify areas we can target to make improvements – to move towards the target state. I think this will allow us to take a more realistic, bite-size approach to SOA, as a way of making progress towards it as a general approach.

The other potential benefit we get from mapping the ‘as is’ is that we can show people the potential of what we have – what services and functions existing investment in systems can deliver. This is something that particularly the Faculty Pro Vice Chancellors have asked for, and it would create better visibility of where we already have things available to deliver new/more functionality rather than invest in new or additional systems and modules.

Watch this space.

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CISG 2009 – Day 3 pt2

What is Lean, how relevant is it and could it work for me? Steve Yorkstone and Mark Robinson, St Andrews

Lean – ‘how we do things around here’, related to ‘Agile’ and ‘Six Sigma’, continuous improvement of processes. Review processes, eliminate waste, and improve those steps that are valuable. Identify, test and apply improvements – and again.

Originally came from manufacturing (Toyota). NHS and local authorities applying Lean in public sector.

Use of cultural change to improve services, and decrease costs, involves people, builds teams.

Good video gives a real sense of the inefficiencies of the process (in this case, simply a student requesting a letter confirming status to open a bank account. 7-10 days wait time at peak, 30 minutes staff time. Per request.).

Revised process: wait time 2 minutes, staff effort 2 minutes.

Some great resources on the St Andrews site, well worth taking the time to have a look at.

Windows SharePoint for collaboration – Janet Stam, University of Liverpool

Use of cut-down version, provided good collaboration tools plus met some of the ‘web2.0’ demands. Linked with other MS tools. Looking at workflow, use of VisualStudio to create workflows rather than built in SP.

Main differences with our implementation:

  • nothing in place prior
  • demand, and demand for wiki/blog
  • low cost deployment (one server, low licence version, existing staff resource)
  • much better access – summary screen user view of those sites have access to and updates, more like a portal

Not sure I’m convinced by SharePoint as a tool for some of the web2.0 services, but then I’m not overly convinced that we should be proving these in-house anyway.

What if Web2.0 Really Does Change Everything? – Brian Kelly UKOLN University of Bath

See the presentation here and read Brian’s blog about the presentation here.

As Brian pointed out, he said we would need to take notice some years ago, and we are reaching the point where we cannot ignore web2.0 any more.

I was struck by the quote from David Harrison, then at Cardiff, defining social media/web2.0 tools as “…communications and collaboration tools that easily and transparently transcend the organisation”. I think the phrase ‘transcend the organisation’ is the important one here, in relation to my point above about whether in-house provision is appropriate (or even relevant).

Also, from Brian’s presentation, that 1% of social media users makes a lot of contribution, 9% make some contribution, and the remaining 90% ‘lurk’. How do we (should we, can we) make that quiet majority have a voice?

In my discussion with Brian over coffee yesterday we talked about some of the ethical dimensions of the use of social media in an organisational context. I was saying that I felt it was probably time to provide some guidelines. Brian pointed me to the ‘AUP’ in his own blog, which touches on some of the issues about trust, ownership, control, that so seems to exercise people.

I first saw Brian talk at a UCISA Management Conference some years ago. In that event, people were talking about the same kinds of issues they’ve been talking about for some time. Only Brian, it felt to me, was looking at the environment ‘out there’ and recognising that it could, well, change everything.

That we’re still having conversations about the relevance/importance of web2.0 (and similarly Cloud Computing), or worse how we block/stop/prevent its use is pretty depressing.

Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies – Mark Raskino, Gartner

Mark gave an excellent overview of how HypeCycles are developed, as well as illustrating the cycle with examples of technologies (new and old) that are on the curve.

And then off to the station for the journey home. A good conference, and some interesing things to think about.

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