Businesses seeking to achieve an unrivaled competitive advantage should take a hard look at their data management strategy. Data-driven decisions are faster, more reliable, and less costly when there is effective information flow and trust between all stakeholders. Enterprise Architects, Digital Practitioners, Sponsors, and Vendors gain superior business insight and planning abilities from using the IT4IT™ Reference Architecture, a standard of The Open Group, to improve data quality, transparency, and accessibility.
The IT4IT Reference Architecture provides prescriptive guidance to design, source, and manage services across a full range of value chain activities, including streamlined solutions for plug-and-play adoption of tools. It’s a blueprint for increasing operational efficiency so that a company can deliver maximum value for the least possible cost with the most predictability.
When your teams lack visibility into the solutions and products being developed for your business, you may wonder, “Are we getting what we’ve asked for?” And because the threshold for adopting a more agile practice may seem too high with no clear path to start, many businesses continue running flawed, frustrating, and costly operations.
By adopting the IT4IT Reference Architecture, your business receives a proven framework for ensuring long-term agility, effortless integration, and data visibility and traceability.
Common Problem Scenario
Through our case study we identified several common challenges. Stakeholders in all areas struggle to achieve end-to-end data chain visibility and traceability, effectively maximize time to prevent delays, eliminate redundant software or gaps, and understand cost.
Sponsors may not understand the status of new and existing products across teams and tools. Enterprise Architects may not trust that meaningful and effective data exchange is occurring across functions, teams, and tools, preventing them from efficiently integrating each component across the greater landscape. To keep moving forward, Digital Practitioners may inadvertently build isolated, manually maintained single-purpose systems of record. Release Train Engineers often struggle to collect comprehensive operational feedback from sprints.
Without a long-term strategy or clearly assigned data-custody across the digital product lifecycle, data access and management is fragmented between process owners, application owners, or development teams, becoming more unstable with every company re-organization or staff departure.
Many organizations reluctantly determine that data islands, duplicate data stores, and conflicting data are inevitable. The chain reaction of resulting issues is both overwhelming and costly. It may not be possible to do a meaningful root cause analysis to resolve incidents, assess the efficiency of digital product delivery, assess the value compared with cost, or receive valuable feedback from development before deployment. Design flaws are repeated, and incorrect processes are unintentionally reinforced.
The lack of end-to-end visibility results in a slow response time to development, change, and incident tickets because there is no traceability or data integrity for tracking down the root cause of problems. Add that when data ownership is transferred or unclear, frustrated teams may dodge responsibility and throw issues “over the fence” to other stakeholders through the course of the digital product’s lifecycle. These interruptions in the flow of data are what cause data islands, duplication of data and efforts, as well as a breakdown in communication.
Solutions are Bliss
You want that competitive advantage. You want reliable, holistic data sets so you can make faster, more insightful decisions, and sharpen your business plan. You are more likely to achieve these goals once your tools, data objects, and their integrations all align to support seamless flow across your digital product lifecycle management value chain.
The IT4IT Reference Architecture provides a roadmap for key areas of improvement including, Tools and Scope, Data Availability, and Data Flow. You can create a structured tool inventory, determine if and how current tools interact with data objects, document any gaps, and complete a gap analysis to explain those relationships.
From there, you would determine your next steps for improvement. These commonly include first mapping the value chain onto IT activities and toolsets and then working with all stakeholders to identify key drivers for improvement (e.g., increased productivity, increased agility, reduce costs) and agree on top priorities. If gaps in tools, data, or integrations were identified, you can prioritize their solutions according to your key drivers.
Plan of Action
While each business’ data strategy is unique, our case study demonstrated many common objectives. Stakeholders agreed to create data records once and develop methods to drive common data usage across the value network. Digital Practitioners would be provided a universally valid data model that can relate any digital asset or configuration item to a digital product and/or investment. Businesses would integrate different systems of record to coherently interoperate and enable the adoption of different development practices and speeds (multi-modal) without creating silos, thereby reducing delays.
Once implemented, the same data sets could be used across the value network to drive portfolio consolidation and standardization based on actual consumption/usage, cost, or operational health, and collect and eradicate defects from incidents and problems.
Rather than being bound by the limitations of their systems, businesses could now be in the driver seat of determining which technology tools, products, and services support their operations and better understand, control, and anticipate their costs.
Comprehensive Benefits and Outcomes
With IT4IT Reference Architecture, developers and business leaders have access to information that enables them to drive an agile approach. By using an industry standard information model, it’s possible to establish data integration between digital product management tools, increase transparency, and improve decision-making. Data objects can now be clearly defined, and management systems can be integrated together in a prescriptive manner. The essential relationships and inter-relationships between them will eventually produce the “System of Record Fabric” which ensures full visibility and traceability of products.
The business value of technology in an organization is now measurable and traceable. Data availability and integrity improves visibility and trust between business and technology stakeholders. This improved agility allows product development teams to work closer with the business to develop solutions and make informed decisions. Overlaps and duplications are minimized, resulting in improved predictability of timescales, functionality, and cost of digital products.
IT4IT Reference Architecture gives your business the framework you thought was unattainable, making data-driven decisions faster, more reliable, and less costly, setting you up to achieve that long-term competitive advantage you’ve been seeking.
To learn more about how to use the IT4IT™ Standard, download publications from the IT4IT™ Library at http://publications.opengroup.org/it4it-library.
If you are interested in helping to develop, evolve, and drive the adoption of the IT4IT™ Reference Architecture, then you can find out more about joining The Open Group IT4IT Forum at www.opengroup.org/it4it-forum.
Members of the IT4IT Forum include Enterprise Architects and IT department leaders or industry consultants from Accenture, Achmea, Architecting the Enterprise, Armstrong Process Group, AT&T, ATOS, BP, Capgemini, DXC Technology, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Munich RE, Origin Energy, PwC, Royal Dutch Shell, UMBRiO, and University of South Florida.