SOA Governance

SOA Governance1. Achieving quick successes is critical. It’s easy to get bogged down by the complexities of SOA architecture without much to show in terms of business benefits. Start with the needs of initial customers, get quick successes, and expand from there. The trick is to ensure baseline SOA architecture can meet requirements for future programs with minimal impact to previous implementation and not try to achieve world peace by figuring out requirements for all current and future needs of an organization.

2. Business alignment is a key to SOA success. There are too many companies with investments in SOA but not enough to show. For example, if strategic divestures is one of the key business goals for the year, then demonstrate how SOA team may come up with design patterns for business processes to allow for faster divestures compared to non-SOA implementation.

3. Organization Alignment – SOA can’t happen if departments continue to implement point to point interfaces. Any integration requirement must come to the “SOA team” which must then determine the best way to implement the integration (point to point may still be an option).

4. Canonicals or Enterprise Business Objects (EBO) – Choices include 1) using industry standards like RosettaNet, 2) your ERP vendor standard, or 3) going the custom way. Having a custom EBO may allow for a quick start with minimal effort and provides the flexibility to evolve as additional business requirements come up. However if you are already invested into a specific industry standard or vendor, then those options may be better than custom.

5. Prebuilt Integration Packs (PIP) – Vendors may upsell industry specific “integration packs” as pre-built process integration. These may allow for faster integration assuming your business process aligns with the PIP design. However following considerations may be important –
a. Compare the cost to build custom SOA interfaces with the cost (license + annual maintenance) of integration pack.
b. What is the learning curve involved to configure/customize the “integration pack” to your business requirements?
c. Is it feasible to configure/customize the integration pack to meet your business requirements?
d. Would you have to customize the integration pack resulting in a licensing or support impact?

6. Consider doing a POC (proof of concept) any time you have to integrate with a new system/technology to ensure that the adapters provided by the integration product vendor are compatible. Older versions of database like Sybase may not be supported and may require different integration architecture.

7. Technology decision criteria – You may end up with multiple integration products/technologies that overlap in functionality. Ideally, you should try to minimize the number of products for cost and ease of management. If you do need multiple products, there should be objective decision criteria for product selection.

8. Less is more – Technologies such as EAI, SOA, BPM, ETL etc all serve the purpose of integrating data and business processes across the enterprise. If the org structure is setup based on products/technologies then these different teams may compete with each other. Ideally there should be a single lead for all integration needs. However org structures are not always ideal and a faster solution may be to get consensus on technology decision criteria, as discussed above.

9. Strategy document – A strategy for business integration is really important. It’s a living document that can be key in bringing all stakeholders on the same page, document and explain key decisions, and avoid reinventing the wheel every time. It should have information on business goals & challenges, assumptions, analysis for products/technologies and decisions made, proposed architecture, solution considerations, reusable components etc.

10. Quality – Evaluate deliverables against a checklist to ensure consistent quality. This can be implemented to evaluate deliverables across the software lifecycle including requirements, design, code, testing, and migration. You may implement this as a simple checklist or as a more comprehensive rating mechanism.

Please contact me if you would like to brainstorm SOA or see samples for Strategy document, Functional Specs, Design document, Technology Decision Criteria, Checklist, Quality Functional Document etc.

By Rohit Arora


Enterprise Architecture Challenges in Public Sector

Enterprise Architecture can be extremely beneficial to an organization however there are always challenges in selling the value of strategy and risk avoidance proposition. Public Sector poses some unique challenges for an Enterprise Architecture approach.

  1.  Color of money
    • Public sector funding is often driven by “programs”. This makes it harder to share resources like technology across programs. Also technology procurement decision is often limited to the needs of the program rather than enterprise-wide needs.
    • In the end a government agency may end up with multiple tools for same functionality. One of my customers, a state agency, has nine different tools for reporting and dashboards. This results in additional burden on taxpayer’s dollars because of the need to maintain multiple tools.
    • An Enterprise Architect with sound knowledge of Business and IT can provide the guidance to avoid “tool-sprawl” and ensure that tools are bought for enterprise-needs and not just program-needs.
  2. Control
    • Public sector entities tend to have federated control over technology decisions. A state may have multiple CIOs, state agencies own the “money” and their CIOs, and state-wide CIOs tend to have little control over the agency technology systems.
    • Due to budget pressure states have recently been more open to consolidate technology across the agencies however the path has been challenging and mostly limited to data center consolidation. The path of giving up control of “kingdom” is rife with job security concerns. In addition when CIOs are appointed by the elected official, some may find it hard to implement unpopular changes.
    • A change over-night is not realistic. Instead public sector could consider lessons learned from commercial where larger companies have slowly but surely consolidated and implemented shared services with central IT. The key for central IT in Public Sector is to provide a few initial shared services with a solid business case that also exceed customer expectations (service, performance, efficiency etc). Additional consolidation and shared services will be built upon the success of the initial ones, or not. This kind of change cannot be brought within, this needs to be initiated, controlled, and managed by the very top such as governor or mayor.

  3. Budget

    • Most of the public sector entities are currently operating on a shoe-string budget. Several of the commercial practices around Enterprise Architecture such as time-consuming documentation of as-is, tool implementation, and expensive training is simply not realistic. A pragmatic approach to EA, focusing on near-term needs and showing quick results may fit the needs of Public Sector entity more than ever.

Enterprise Architecture Pitfalls

Top three pitfalls for Enterprise Architecture –

1. Stakeholder Support

You can have a very good business case, strategy, and plan however change will not happen without the support of the stake holders. Stakeholders include the top guy/girl as well as the end users.

  • Who is it that needs to say YES in the end to make this happen? Ensure that person is involved directly in the vision definition and final planning. That person will have one to two hours for an important initiative.
  • Who are the stakeholders that will make this happen from an implementation standpoint? There may be concerns such as job security and “control” that are not explicitly mentioned but need to be addressed to really get their support.

2. From Strategy to Implementation – Make it happen

Enterprise Architect needs to go beyond selling the vision. Make it happen, and make it happen good. There is a lot that can go wrong before and during the implementation. Stay involved till the implementation becomes a “machine” by establishing governance like best practices, standards, vendor identification, negotiation etc.

3. Show the money, now

Avoid the urge to engaged solely in documentation of the enterprise as-is business processes and technology details. This is an ongoing process for your free time. Start with quick hits.

  • What is it that the business needs now or in near future? Is it cloud strategy, supply chain optimization, or cost reduction? Identify important initiatives that need a go-to plan in two to four months. Lead the business case, business-IT alignment, and roadmap.

The Business of IT

The Business of ITHere is my take on what the key goals for CIOs and IT executives are.

  1. Improve business top-line and bottom-line
  2. Manage operations and reduce risk
  3. Stakeholder perception

Lets elaborate these.

Improve business top-line and bottom-line

How can the organization generate more revenues, identify additional sales channels, increase customer retention?

How can the business be more efficient, what processes can be optimized, identify and cut waste, automate when it makes sense?

What are the competitive, disruptive, emerging technologies that need to be considered?

Should we leverage newer technologies like cloud, engineered systems, and social media?

Amazon used software to create a new retail business model. Apple changed the music industry by allowing us to buy one song at a time instead of the packaged album. Walmart used technology to gain supply chain efficiency and thus offer lower prices as a competitive strategy. Ford created Modle T to transform cars from a luxury item to mass market and replace horse carts. Self-service print services and e-Commerce has changed how we get business cards without changing the product itself.

Manage IT operations and reduce risk

Smooth operations are important so there is sufficient time and trust left to provide new capabilities for business.

How frequently has key business functionality been impacted in the past?

How prepared are you for situations if things go wrong (employees leaving, natural disasters, technology failure)?

How confident are you that a new business application will work as expected?

Are the business resources being used efficiently and effectively?

Consider tools such as Business Continuity Planning, Process & Quality Governance, and Center of Excellence.

Stakeholder perception

Stakeholders may be customers (internal/external), suppliers, partners etc.

What do the stakeholders think of IT?

Does IT exceed expectations?

Does turn around time, cost, and maturity of IT improve over time?

Identify the top one to three improvements that are needed and make sure the improvements are permanent.

By Rohit Arora

Enterprise Architecture in practice – Case Study – Business Agility

Consider a fictitious organization, ABC Medical Equipment (ABC-ME) with a not-so-fictitious scenario.


Business Owner, Bob, wants to implement a solution from a vendor to improve clinical trial process. The vendor made a power-point presentation about the solution to Bob and IT Enterprise Architect, Ean, among others. Ean is concerned about the product functionality, quality, and maturity since the vendor could not provide functionality details and customer references during the presentation. Bob has high visibility and political clout in the organization and has funding for the project. He wants to implement this solution right away. What disposition will you provide if you were Bob?


Ean does not feel comfortable approving the solution because of the risks associated (there has been only a power-point presentation which was not very helpful). At the same time he does not want to slow down the business. He wants to do the right thing for ABC-ME but does not want to strain his relationship with Bob either.

Ean has several objectives in this scenario as an Enterprise Architect –

  1. Ean should identify target business and technical architecture that is in scope of this project and validate the business goals/vision that will be realized. Next, opportunities for reuse should be identified at business and technical level. In addition, benefits that are expected from the vendor’s solution should be separated from the benefits that can be achieved from process changes without the solution or with other existing solutions.
  2. The risks that Ean has identified should be quantified, if possible, and used as inputs to perform a cost-benefit analysis. Since detailed functionality of the solution was not proven, it may have to be customized for ABC-ME which might increase the cost of solution and time to realize the business benefits. In addition, the lower quality of the product may mean higher cost of maintenance and lower availability to business.
  3. Sole-sourcing from this vendor is probably a faster process however it may mean that ABC-ME is missing out on opportunity to find a better or less cost solution. Would it make sense to perform a market study for available solutions, or approach an industry expert consultant to see how others have addressed this need, or check with IT research firms like Gartner and Forrester for their opinion on this vendor and solution?

Ean should provide an objective appraisal of the vendor and solution identifying opportunities for the business as well as risks. Ean could go a step further and recommend options to mitigate the risks.

  1. Validate the expected business benefits from this solution and total cost of ownership. Upfront cost paid to vendor is only one part of the total cost. Help the business owner understand cost of implementation, customization, maintenance, infrastructure, integration, training etc.
  2. Suggest checking availability of other similar solutions from other vendors to compare functionality and cost. Provide expected timeline to do so.
  3. Explain the risks of implementing this solution in simple business terms such as availability of the system to research staff, ability to create reports for FDA reporting, functionality for integration with clinical systems, etc.
  4. Recommend options to mitigate the risks. The risks associated with an unproven solution/vendor could be minimized by a proof of concept, commitment from vendor for training and customization, ownership of code if the vendor ceases operations, or in case of a merger or acquisition etc.

By Rohit Arora

Enterprise Architecture – State of affairs

There is a lot of confusion around the role of Enterprise Architect and how to be successful in such a role. Having this role buried within Information Technology Group (IT) makes the challenge even more interesting.

Challenge #1: What is an Enterprise Architect and should this role be within IT?

Recommendation: Information Technology can be a key differentiator and enabler for businesses. Walmart used technology as an enabler for supply chain efficiency. FedEx used technology as a competitive advantage for package tracking. The role of Enterprise Architect is to enable business goals such as agility, cost, mergers, divestures, competitive advantage, supply chain efficiency etc with effective use of technology. Therefore an Enterprise Architect needs to be able to have a good grasp of business processes as well as information technology.

Start by thinking of an Enterprise Architect as an architect you may hire to build your dream home. The architect needs to

  1. Understand your requirements (business requirements)
  2. Design the house within constraints of cost, people, and time (architecture)
  3. Review during the construction phase to make sure that the work of plumber, carpenter, etc meets your requirements, quality/regulatory standards, and will work with each other (governance)

Now increase the complexity due to the fact that

  1. The playing field of Enterprise Architects is not a piece of land but an already existing business
  2. The documentation on current architecture/design of business may not exist or may not be current
  3. Business owners may be able to fund projects and bypass Enterprise Architect

Since every business functions such as Finance, HR, Supply Chain etc uses IT, the Enterprise Architect role has recently been within IT. What is more important is to understand that the role of Enterprise Architect is about business enablement and the org structure needs to support their governance role.

Challenge #2: How to be successful as an Enterprise Architect?

Recommendation: The main function of Enterprise Architect is to enable and improve business. Consider following suggestions –

  1. Where are we right now?
    Learn as much as you can about current business processes, goals, and challenges. For example, one of the businesses I worked at had decided to sell off manufacturing and distribution and focus on research, design, and marketing.
  2. Where do we need to be?
    Based on the business requirement in above example, the enterprise architecture team developed “landing zone” and “reusable patterns” to determine what the business processes and IT systems needed to look like to enable faster divestures. If it takes 30 days instead of 90 days to execute a divesture, that is 60 days advantage to the business bottom line.
  3. How do we get there?
    Enforcement of Enterprise Architecture is much more challenging than defining the architecture itself.
    * Engage early on with the business and execution teams to explain your expectations.
    * Stay involved throughout the execution process so changes can be done sooner than later.
    * If you face resistance to your recommendation, identify the benefits of Enterprise Architecture in business terms such as cost and be as quantitative as possible.

Challenge #3: How to measure the value of Enterprise Architecture?

Recommendation: The benefit of enterprise architecture should be measure in the same terms as the enabled business benefits. Examples include $300M in additional revenues, $600M cost savings, $5M cost avoidance etc, defects reduced by 3% etc. In addition benefits should be measured for –

  1. Repeat Execution
    Example – For a merger, an organization took 9 months and $10 million to execute cross-manufacturing for the first set of products. The second time it took 6 months and $7 million. After a few iterations it was down to 2 weeks and $50,000.
  2. Cost Avoidance
    Compare and contrast the benefits of Enterprise Architecture with “as-is” in terms of cost and effort avoidance. Example – In the absence of Enterprise Architecture the implementation cost will be 3 times higher, Enterprise Architecture avoided $3 million cost by using a single tool, 20,000 man hours effort saved by Enterprise Architecture etc.

Following are some Key Performance Indicators that may be used to measure effectiveness of Enterprise Architecture. These are especially useful if measured routinely and shown as a trend over a period of time –

* % projects that use Enterprise Architecture

* % projects that score high on Enterprise Architecture reviews

* # of defects caught before going live

* # of defects caught after going live

* $ saved in cost avoidance


Interview with Entrepreneurs – Meet April M. Williams: Speaker, Author, Coach

Interview with Entrepreneurs – Meet April M. Williams: Speaker, Author, and Coach

April M. Williams is the President of CyberLife Tutors. She has successfully transformed her career from being employed as an Information Technology Manager to a self-employed Speaker, Author and Coach. She leverages the power of Social Networking Technologies to help people in career transition. April has a Masters Degree in Information Systems and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

Below is her exclusive interview with CHICAGO MENTORS.

Arora: What made you become a career coach?

Williams: I have reinvented myself more than once. Although much of my experience has been working with Fortune 50 companies, I started in merchandising, and then moved to information technology (IT) roles before becoming an entrepreneur in career coaching. After years implementing and managing large IT projects I was stressed out by a long commute, family demands and long working hours. I then decided to work for myself and became an entrepreneur. While I was out of work friends asked me to help them with social networking. That incident made it easier for me find my current passion and it sort of evolved after that. I still work very hard however I have more flexibility. There was definitely a financial impact when I went from a senior level position to starting my own company however I have built my business and I am very happy. It’s the best career move I have ever made.

Arora: Give us some examples of how you have helped people?

Williams: As a professional speaker, I motivate and provide tactical advice in Chicago Metro area at Harper College, McHenry County College, Barrington Career Center, various Chambers of Commerce, etc. Some of my engagements are motivational in nature; others are more career focused for example how to use LinkedIn as a job search tool. I am publisher and co-author of the book – “Ignite your Passion”. It’s an inspirational book and includes real stories of how people found their jobs and passion. I also provide networking and career tips though my blog. The “Networking For Results” DVD and companion book are helping job seekers land jobs faster. It is so rewarding for me to give them direction, new ideas, an independent perspective, and watch the transformation.

Arora: What can a person expect from a career coach like you?

Williams: Coaches don’t have jobs to give, they give tools and guidance to find the job. People usually come to me after they have already tried on their own, and are frustrated by the lack of results. Job searching and the current market are now very different from the last economic downturn. People are really struggling and lost. I give them encouragement, positive accountability, and hope. I help them expand their networks so their phone starts ringing and they are happier. My approach and solution includes several aspects of job search such as social networking technologies, in-person networking, resume review, motivation, reduce stress, elevator pitch and more. I use the expertise gained from my days as a Project Manager to build career transition plans and make adjustments to those plans as needed.

Arora: Is career management different these days than it used to be?

Williams: YES. It’s very different from even 5-10 years ago. There is much more responsibility on an employee to find a job, and there is more competition. Since there are so many good people available, employers are not willing to hang on to marginal staff. It is in your best interest to show off what you bring to the table. Also, tenure is now much shorter. It should be an expectation you will start another job search every 2-3 years. I see people stop networking when they find a job so they have to start all over again every time layoffs happen.

Arora: What is your recommendation for career search during the holidays?

Williams: Everyone should definitely enjoy holidays and the time with family. However they should pump up their job search as well. There are less job seekers competing during the holidays and many companies are looking for people now to start work in January. I was myself once hired during Christmas to start a job in January. Businesses are expecting growth and expand in January. Holiday gatherings and parties are an excellent opportunity network.

Arora: What are your plans for 2010?

Williams: I am introducing new classes for career coaching. I expect to work more with Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). I will be releasing a printed version of “Ignite your passion” book. I also have more DVDs coming down the path and I am looking forward to additional speaking engagements outside of Chicago area.

Arora: If there was one advice that you were to give, what would it be?

Williams: Networking is my biggest advice. It’s not just exchanging a business card but developing relationship by getting to know people. Too many people focus how they are different from another person; instead strive to find something you have in common.

The new rules of community outreach – Introduction

loudspeakerWhether you a start-up, large corporation, or government, you cannot afford to ignore the benefits and risks of real-time social media. Social media can be used to generate new ideas, engage citizens, improve branding, and reduce business risk.

Several business leaders are learning the importance of social media the hard way. Recently there was a rumor that Starbucks will not send coffee to soldiers in Iraq because they do no support the war. The news spread like wild far with chain emails urging people to boycott Starbucks. The news was obviously not true and it took Starbucks time to be aware of these and inform the public about the truth.

And then there have been products like Three wolf moon t-shirt that enjoyed unexpected sales on Amazon because of one single funny comment from a user that had not even bought the t-shirt. The humor spread and the t-shirt ended up as the #1 sellers in Amazon’s apparel line selling 100 t-shirts in an hour, according to abc news.

Despite the hype social media is not well understood. CHICAGO MENTORS recommends the following simple approach for social media.

Understand what is Social Media and how it can have a positive and negative impact on you. This steps answers the questions “Do I need social media?” and “What do I need social media for?”. Call Chicago Mentors to schedule a discussion to answer these questions.

Once you have determined that your organization needs social media the next step is to develop a social media strategy. This includes business case, budget, resources, roles, plan of action, rules, best practices, and internal standards. Chicago Mentors provides a fast turnaround time by leveraging a blue print social media strategy.

Soon enough its time to implement your plan and enjoy the results. Start small and experiment with various things. Stay flexible with changes as your organization becomes familiar with social media and as technology evolves.

We appreciate your comments and questions on this post.

NEWS: PanIIT 2009 – Clinton foundation, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship


Chicago Mentors got an opportunity to attend a conference on “Entrepreneurship and Innovation in a Global Economy” in Chicago last week. The conference was attended by 2000 individuals from across the globe and was organized as an alumni conference of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). The IIT alumni conference is held every year, alternatively in US and India.

Key Attendees

Bill Clinton – President
Aneesh Chopra – Federal CTO, US
Anu Acharya – CEO, Ocimum Biosolutions
Arjun Malhotra – CEO, Headstrong
Bala Balachandran – Professor, Kellogg School of Management
Carl Schramm – CEO, Kauffman Foundation
Desh Deshpande – Chairman of Sycamore Networks, Tejas Networks, A123 Systems,Sandstone Capital and HiveFire
Glen Tullman – CEO, Allscripts Healthcare Solutions
James Owens – CEO, Caterpillar
James Rogers – CEO, Duke Energy
Michael Wasielewski – Director, Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research (ANSER) Center
Nathan Mhrvold – Intellectual Ventures
Padmasree Warrior – CTO, Cisco
Peter Balbus – CEO, Pragmaxis
Praful Kulkarni – CEO, gkkworks
Prith Banerjee – Director, HP Labs
Rajat Gupta – CEO, McKinsey retired, now equity investor
Rich Lavin – Group President, Caterpillar
Ro Khanna, US Department of Commerce
Sanjay Khosla – President, Kraft International
Sharon Oster – Dean and Professor, Yale School of Management
Umang Gupta – CEO, Keynote Systems
Vishal Wanchoo – CEO, GE Healthcare IT
Vivek Kundra – Federal CIO, US

Key Takeaways

U.S. Economy

  • The traditional options for GDP growth (consumer spending, government spending, real estate) are not viable or sufficient. The GDP growth will have to come from exports. Ro Khanna at US department of Commerce is responsible for trade promotion programs.
  • The second avenue of GDP growth will be technology entrepreneurs. In contrast to common beliefs, the wealth is created by well-educated entrepreneurs that start their business at the average age of 39.


  • Only 8% of hospitals and 17% of physicians use Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. Majority of healthcare organizations are small with no EHR systems. There is an opportunity to provide EHR for smaller health organizations that can’t afford an internal IT organization (Software as a Service). There is also a need to make EHRs interoperable.
  • US spends 16% of GDP ($2.1 trillion) on healthcare, nearly twice the average of other developed nations – and we don’t get the money’s worth. Starbucks reported that they spend more on health care than to buy raw materials for coffee. Over $1500 is tacked on to each car that GM makes because of health care costs.
  • Opportunities exist in Health Information Exchange (HIE), Clinical Information Systems, and Healthcare IT (HIT) professionals.


While wind energy solutions have seen the highest growth in recent years, it is not the correct solution for everyone. Several farms in Illinoisinstalled windmills, however they look like huge sculptures because there isn’t enough wind. Solar is the only form of alternative energy that is carbon neutral. Clinton foundation is providing 500,000 solar lanterns/flashlights to Haiti that does not have electricity. The people there currently spend 30% of their income on kerosene lanterns. This will reduce crime against women and provide an opportunity to kids to study after dark.

Process vs Passion

B. Muthuraman, Managing Director of Tata Steel had an interesting perspective on working in a global environment. Developed countries like those in western Europe are big on process but may lack passion. Developing countries like India and China tend to be full of passion but not so much on process (example – defining lofty goals without a process to come up with goals). Countries like US and Japan seem to have a balanced mix of process and passion.

What is IIT

Indian institute of technology (IIT) is India’s premier engineering institution. As one of the speakers put it, its easier to get into MIT and Harvard, than IIT. Another said, if US is the land of opportunities, India is the land of ideas. Based on the list of attendees and their contributions it seems true.

Public sector information technology – a look at ongoing large projects

Snapshot of some of the largest ongoing public sector technology projects worldwide. Please add comments if you know of other noteworthy projects that are not listed.

US Navy – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

The SAP implementation includes 50 government employees and 500 consultants . It was started in 2004 and is expected to complete in 2013, its budgeted at $1.4 billion. It is expected to support 185,000 users and accounting, supply chain, HR, distribution, and purchasing functions.

India – Biometric Identity Cards

Nandan Nilekani, CEO and co-founder of $25 billion Infosys, has left his position to lead the Indian government project to give biometric identity cards to 1.2 billion citizens. The ID cards are expected to help under-priviliged, reduce corruption, and reduce terrorism. Its expected to be scalability and security technical challenge. India does not currently have a national ID like social security in US and only 7% of the citizens are registered tax payers. The project is expected to cost $2-3 billion and create 100,000 new jobs. India currently has the world’s largest railway system under a single management and employs 1.4 million.

Singapore – IT outsourcing

Singapore awarded $1.3 billion for a program led by EDS to standardize and manage information technology infrastructure across 74 public agencies and 60,000 computers.

UK – NHS National Program for IT

This is UK’s Department of Health’s initiative for a single, centrally-mandated electronic care record for patients and to connect practitioners and hospitals. The program was started in 2002 and was expected to complete in 3 years. However it has been delayed several times and cost overruns run into several hundred times.