A nice piece of holistic thinking

2011/06/28

Jurgen Appelo has written an interesting post – The Purpose of a Business is NOT Customer Value. The title may seem counter intuitive at first – but worth taking a look.

He has included a couple of quotes from Russell L. Ackoff – which I always enjoy.

A few of my favourites of his – taken from Management f-laws

The less important an issue is, the more time managers spend discussing it

Managers cannot learn from doing things right, only from doing them wrong

You rarely improve an organisation as a whole by improving the performance of one or more of its parts


Enterprise architecture model resource

2011/06/23

I’ve come across a really useful resource created by Louise McDonagh.

An Enterprise architecture model consisting of ‘generic data, function and application architecture model framework’.

The ‘data model’ is in effect a set of conceptual model patterns – based around the following subject areas:

  • Activities and events
  • Actor/parties
  • Agreements
  • Assets
  • Business rules
  • Locations
  • Financial accounts
  • Product and services

A set of definitions is also provided – could be useful for initial ‘straw man’ definitions with stakeholders.

Definitely worth taking a look at – especially for anyone about to undertake or currently undergoing a business capability or business information modelling exercise.


Power of Information 2011

2011/06/20

I attended this Blueprint BI event last week.

The keynote included presentations from both SAP and Microsoft, in which they outlined their new offerings in the BI space e.g. SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 and PowerPivot respectively.

Two interesting concepts were mentioned in a number of sessions given by Blueprint.

  • Disposal BI
  • BI competency centre

Disposal BI
From what I understand this encompasses two key ideas:
1) The need for BI projects to start providing and showing value right from the ‘get go’.
2) That in certain scenarios there is the need to provide immediate BI solutions that are just good enough to meet specific requirements. But, there is recognition, that whatever is produced might need to ‘thrown away’ in the near future.

There was an interesting debate about this topic.

What if creating something quickly now has a negative impact in the longer term?

Are many organisations really willing to dispose of something once they have even made relatively minor investments in terms of time and resources?

BI competency centre (BICC)
Where appropriate a new business unit should be created that is responsible for BI across the enterprise. Effectively consolidating the people, tools and processes that are normally spread across an organisation. Whilst I can certainly see the potential advantages of such an approach. But, one of my concerns (and they didn’t really cover this area) is how such a group would interact with other existing groups in an organisation that traditionally have (some) responsibility in the BI space – IT, data architecture and more broadly data management groups. Also, the success of such a group would be dependent on how willing individual business units were willing to support a central group.

It would be interesting to hear the experiences of anyone who has worked in an organisation that has set up a BICC.

Bringing it together
Used appropriately disposal BI could offer real advantages to an organisation. The key questions being centred on whom and how are people going to decide when it is appropriate. To a large degree it relates back to the standard question of ‘tactical vs. strategic’. This is where PEAF’s enterprise debt concept is really useful for framing this type of discussion.

A group within an organisation – be it a BICC or another existing group – has to have a strategic overview for the overall enterprise.

Without such a group, the key enablers for effective BI and definitely for ‘disposal BI’ – such as strategic data architecture, quality and integration work is unlikely to be carried out – and ‘disposal BI’ could become another excuse to continue carrying out tactical work, building up enterprise debt in the process.


Enterprise Data Modeling 7 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

2011/06/01

An interesting article by Karen Lopez – Enterprise Data Modeling 7 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make. Definitely worth taking a look at.

The first one ‘Forgetting that an enterprise architecture is a living framework’ – not viewing ‘data architecture as a final, fixed deliverable’ particular resonates with me at the moment.

A mistake I would add to the list is along the lines of ‘Getting too bogged down in detail’.

There is definitely a sweet spot in getting just enough level of detail to make the enterprise model useful to it’s intended audience (or should that be audiences?) whilst not swamping it and making it a ‘boil the ocean’ type process to create and maintain.

There must be a couple more to make it to 10?