Enterprise Solution Design Principles
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Enterprise Solution Design Principles

Leo Barella, VP & Chief Enterprise Architect, AstraZeneca [NYSE: AZN]

Architectural or engineering principles are the cornerstone of the Enterprise Architecture. IT organizations cannot effectively design an efficient architecture without such guiding principles, nor can it enforce an architecture that is out of congruence with those principles.

The implication of executing IT without Architecture Principles and Architecture Governance Processes to drive toward a Target State Architecture is the redundant proliferation of systems that lead to high cost and slow processes which is evident across the Enterprise today.

The Open Group Architecture Foundation defines principles as: “Principles are general rules and guidelines, intended to be enduring and seldom amended, that inform and support the way in which an organization sets about fulfilling its mission.”

Enterprises can improve their return of investment in technology by governing the creation of IT Solutions via the adoption and governance of the following 10 Enterprise Guiding Principles:

Enterprise First

The Enterprise Architecture applies to all aspects of Information Technology across the global enterprise.

• Rationale

Managing IT separately across the different Business Units of the Enterprise misses the opportunities to reduce cost, shared capabilities and minimize redundant assets. We must simplify with the mindset of a single enterprise.

  ​Architecture should focus on enhancing the future state to provide a competitive advantage and a sustainable core of business and technical capabilities   

• Implications

We must incorporate a collaborative model to include various aspects of IT with a focus on economies of scale, support of the integrated enterprise and the sharing of technical diversity.

Steward the Enterprise

Work with the enterprises—to provide frameworks, processes and collaboration models for driving change.

• Rationale

Subject matter experts exist as a distributed asset to make the right decisions on integration and drive the right enterprise strategies as a collective.

• Implications

Business areas must invest time and staff into enterprise strategies to understand the best solutions by relying on facts, data, collaboration and our own expertise.

Foster Reuse

Create assets with reuse in mind, identifying and leveraging existing assets when new opportunities arise.

• Rationale

In order for systems and solutions to be reusable, they need to exist as a part of a formalized process and rewards system.

• Implications

Staff must be trained on the importance of processes to call out appropriate check points for reuse of assets and projects must be measured on leveraging existing technologies.

Align to Business Strategy and Value

Cost and value-based on targeted perspective to prioritize Enterprise Business Value Streams.

• Rationale

Strategies, architectures, and systems must be developed in the context of understood business value and perspectives of cost.

• Implications

IT must enable the business and manage cost for enterprise advancement with a strategy targeted at specific business value points and traceable metrics.

Design for Change

Simplify, drive innovation, leverage existing assets, and enable the business to meet the changing markets’ demands.

• Rationale

Architecture should focus on enhancing the future state to provide a competitive advantage and a sustainable core of business and technical capabilities.

• Implications

Business and IT Leadership must identify the appropriate metrics and criteria to drive our business and understand how/where to direct our strategies for improvement and effective implementation.

Design from the Outside In

Design to offer the best possible customer experience.

• Rationale

Systems and solutions should be designed to improve customer experience and introduce efficiency in our current processes.

• Implications

While we are adopting an agile delivery approach we should collect the feedback of our customers frequently to assure the solution exceeds their expectations.

Data is a Competitive Strategic Asset

Data is our most critical asset; it takes priority over application and technology considerations.

• Rationale

To grow as a company, understand and service our customers as well as make good decisions, trustable data is key. Data Integrity must not be sacrificed to meet application or technology constraints.

• Implications

Applications and technologies will be selected and implemented based on an approach that first considers data needs. All other design decisions are secondary to those needs.

Access to Insight, Anytime, Anywhere from Any Device

We will reduce human latency by providing access to insight and information on the device that can impact decision making faster.

• Rationale

Information is power and we will design solutions that will target the device or devices that will impact the business process efficiency in a more meaningful way. Our goal is to improve the quality of the data used to make decisions and to provide that information to the decision makers in the most efficient way.

• Implications

We need to better understand how a process task is being carried out so we can provide access to information via the most efficient device or devices.

Open but Compliant and Secure

Putting information in to the hands of the customers securely. Where they are, what they need and the format they want.

• Rationale

Our market is trending towards adding digital services and capabilities directly to our customer, data on demand, and mobile availability of information.

• Implications

Rigorous security, service orientation and technical capabilities needed to enable business partners to offer data solutions to customers with protection, performance and openness of data.

Operational Readiness by Design

Solution and systems need to be delivered with the appropriate support for our clients.

• Rationale

Reliability of systems is a service that our customers expects and should be included as part of the design of a solution.

• Implications

While delivering a solution we will take into consideration the effort and resources necessary to provide excellent support to our clients. The support of the system should be well documented and roles and responsibilities should be clear prior to a system going live.

I invite the readers of this article to share with me their opinions and collective experiences in defining, leveraging and governing their IT organizations using their principles.

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