Tuesday May 08, 2012

OUM and PMI's Pulse of the Profession: The Fifth In a Series

Welcome to the fifth (and final) blog entry of the series on PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession .  The previous blog entry focused on Key Finding #4: Organizations will renew their focus on talent development as they look to grow and gain competitive advantage in new markets.  That entry highlighted how the OUM Training Program prepares project team members in various roles to be effective on an OUM project.

In this blog entry we will look at PMI’s Key Finding #5: Despite tight economic conditions, organizations have been and will continue to increase their focus on benefits realization success metrics.  PMI’s research shows project/program managers must maintain a focus on the strategic objectives of the project.  Anyone who has been on a project knows it is not easy to keep the big picture in mind when we are caught up in our day-to-day tasks.  So in this blog entry we will take a look at some of the key elements in OUM that help keep projects aligned with the organization’s strategic goals.

Whenever we talk strategy in OUM we turn our attention to the Envision Focus Area.  The development and maintenance of enterprise level IT strategy, architecture, and governance done in Envision helps to ensure IT delivery is in alignment with the organization’s strategy.  Ideally, every enterprise should be executing the processes in Envision or similar processes. 

I am going to get on my soapbox at this point and say, because the processes in Envision provide the glue between the business and IT strategies, true benefits realization will be very difficult (or nearly impossible)to achieve without an Envision or similar engagement.  We discussed in the first blog entry of this series how Envision helps ensure projects will align with an organization’s objectives by providing the processes to support effective portfolio management.   We know that organizations who focus only at the project level will wind up with a collection of stovepipe projects that have limited ability to address the organization’s strategic needs or provide return on investment.  We also know that project teams starting out without an enterprise IT strategy and architecture, or the appropriate IT governance in place will often find it necessary to gather enough information to establish the project’s objectives, scope, and estimates for the solution.  This can cause significant project delays and possibly lead to costly re-work. 

In order to understand the connection between the artifacts produced in the Envision Focus Area and how they relate directly to the tasks in the Implement Focus Area, project teams should be aware of the Envision Touch Points found in the OUM Method Overview page.  These touch points are potential prerequisites from Envision work products to Implement tasks.  As we know, an Envision engagement does not always precede an Implement engagement and, therefore, these touch points are not always available to the project as artifacts.  The project team must then determine the degree to which the Envision tasks should be executed to generate the necessary information to proceed.

The project manager should also look to the Envision artifacts when establishing the project structure to make sure the project is set up to achieve the expected benefits of the project.  During the Project Start Up phase of the OUM Manage Focus Area, resources are allocated to achieve specific objectives, satisfy needs, and set expectations through a planned and organized approach.   The project manager should start with the enterprise IT strategy and governance when formulating this approach, and then document the approach as part of the Project Management Framework (the precursor to the Project Management Plan).

As you can tell, I am a big fan of Envision.  I put a great deal of value in this focus area of OUM because I have seen so many projects that benefited by having a view of the big picture.  But, if you disagree with my assessment of how important enterprise-level work is to benefits realization, please let me know in the comments section.  For some really good advice on the role of an Oracle Enterprise Architect and how they can benefit a project, check out a blog entry written by my colleague called “When to Call an Oracle Enterprise Architect”.

This wraps up the series on PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession.  I hope you enjoyed reading these entries as much as I did writing them.  It’s been a great opportunity to demonstrate how OUM is in-tune with leading industry trends.  The series has generated quite a bit of inspiration for future blog entries. So please keep watching this blog, as well as our LinkedIn Group and Twitter for OUM information, tips, and techniques.  If you have a suggestion for a future blog entry or have a question, you can reach us at ominfo_us@oracle.com.

Thursday Mar 01, 2012

When to call an Oracle Enterprise Architect in on your project

When you aren’t sure about your physical health, what do you do?  Well, you may call in a doctor, maybe even a “specialist”.

As a Project Manager, and a PMP, I understand the need to “protect the project”.  Risks should be mitigated early on so that they don’t become issues.  So “When do I call in an Oracle Enterprise Architect (OEA) on my project?”  What signs should I look for to indicate that an OEA is needed?

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Oracle Consulting PM’s, Customers and Partners who saw the value of having an Oracle Enterprise Architect as a “trusted advisor” to the Project or Program Manager.   But some Project Managers may not be aware of what an OEA does, or when it is advisable to call an OEA in on a project.

The Oracle Unified Method (OUM) includes an Oracle Enterprise Architecture Development Process (OADP) View.  This view includes only tasks from the OUM Envision focus area. However, many of these tasks are “touch points” or prerequisites to tasks in the Implement focus area.  The expertise of an OEA is important on a Software Implementation project.

Did you know that the OADP View in OUM Envision was authored by a global group of Oracle Enterprise Architects (OEA)?  These subject matter experts were some of the earliest contributors to OUM and they continue to refine the guidance that OUM provides for Enterprise Architecture.

What is the role of an Oracle Enterprise Architect
An OEA does five specific things – that are unique to the OEA role:

  • Thinks in time (Current State / Future State / and more importantly – Intermediary or Transitional State)
  • Examines “Multidimensional Processing” (People, Process, Strategy and Technology)
  • Brings together Multi-pillar Architectures (Apps, Tech,  Hardware and Software)
  • Performs “Environmental Contextualization” – The fit of the System Under Discussion (SuD) into overall ecosystem – not just designing the architecture in and of itself
  • Provides Trade-off Analysis for Best-fit architecture (Architecture alternatives: balance Business, Organizational, Financial and Technical factors)

An OEA participates in specialized training that examines the current state architecture, discovers the Business Objectives and Strategy of the Enterprise and then develops future state architectures and practical roadmaps, that could be used to achieve those business objectives.

When to call an Enterprise Architect
So, under what conditions, does an Oracle Software implementation project or program benefit from the role of an Oracle Enterprise Architect (OEA)?

What are some of the characteristics of projects in the Enterprise IT Portfolio that would gain value and produce quantifiable return on investment, thereby truly benefitting from an OEA as a trusted advisor?

In general, a project that has a high level of complexity could benefit from an OEA.  This complexity could be technical, architectural or business, or some combination these.

Here is a list of some common project scenarios that provide increased benefit to the business by utilizing the skills of an Oracle Enterprise Architect as an implementation project trusted advisor:

  • Project includes multiple Oracle products - from different product families
  • Large scale combined application and technology projects
  • Project duration is more than 1 year
  • Project budget is in excess of $1M
  • Project includes integration with more than ten legacy systems
    Composite Applications includes several of those WebCenter Portals, Service Oriented Architecture, BPM Processes, Enterprise Security and Enterprise Applications such as CRM, Financials or HR.

Of course many software implementation scenarios could benefit from an OAE as a trusted advisor.  The above list includes just a few of the project scenarios that really should consider including an OEA.

Value of Enterprise Architecture and an OEA to the project
Having a framework (such as Oracle's OEAF) and a well defined process for Enterprise Architecture development (OADP) is of critical importance. Together they help produce artifacts (work products) that ultimately align technology goals and initiatives to business strategy.

An OEA participates in specialized training that examines the current state architecture, discovers the Business Objectives and Strategy of the Enterprise and then develops future state architectures and practical roadmaps, that could be used to achieve those business objectives.

Enterprise architecture is the alignment of IT and IT assets to support business strategy. By achieving the business strategy of the enterprise, we have increased the business value of the enterprise.  In order to really identify the true value of enterprise architecture we need to understand how we measure business value and develop a portfolio of implementation projects that help us reach achievable and measurable goals.

The OEA contributes to the success of a defined business strategy.  They help Software implementation project teams execute on a roadmap.  Each of these projects is part of a portfolio of implementation projects that combine to realize the defined future state architecture.  During the execution of the roadmap, they help to deliver the IT initiatives that provide measurable returns to the business.

The OEA acts as an advisor to the Project or Program Manager.  They keep the various functional partitions in alignment with the technical partitions, thereby assuring the OUM Principle of remaining “Architecture Centric”.

As the OEA examines the individual organizational units within the enterprise they can identify how the unit has performed by quantitatively measuring achievable goals as defined by the business for each unit. True business value may seem to be subjectively measured.  However, looking at the requirements of the System under Discussion (SuD) and determining the impact to the business with measurable goals, is more quantifiable.

As a project manager, I can examine the project profile and determine if it meets the characteristics outlined above, if it does… Well, who am I going to call?  I will call an Oracle Enterprise Architect (OEA).

What are your thoughts on this topic?

For more information about Oracle Enterprise Architecture Services, look on http://www.oracle.com/us/products/consulting/enterprise-architecture-services/index.html 

Many thanks to Ajay Ailawadhi and Paul Silverstein - Oracle Consulting Advanced Technology Services, ESG organization for contributing to this blog entry.


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