An Oracle SOA Suite - Team Blog

Justifying the ROI of SOA in 10 Seconds

Bruce Tierney
Director of Oracle Cloud Integration

After years of internally disjointed and overlapping application integration
efforts, you are convinced the time has come for an enterprise-wide SOA
deployment… but how do you convince your CIO, CFO, and other executives to make
the serious commitment of resources and funding?

The most common approach is to roll up your sleeves, open an
for SOA
” spreadsheet template and create the cost/benefit justification. Despite the extensive amount of time it
will take, this may very well be the ideal approach (but there is
another approach).

Your spreadsheets starts with rows for each proposed service
and columns of costs for individual service design, development, testing and
implementation including the added time to make the service re-usable. Then you determine the estimated
re-use, predicted hours saved by re-use, estimated annual savings, break-even
date and more. After refining this
spreadsheet for months, you schedule a meeting with executives and the more
people that attend the meeting, the more additional analyses you will be asked
to create. One suggestion might be to instead take a top-down approach based on
the latest corporate business objectives as opposed to your bottom up
approach. If you started with a
top down approach in the first place, how about a bottom up one as well? While
the suggestions may be useful, they do delay your company’s ability to keep up
with your competitors who may have already moved to an enterprise SOA and can
move much faster than your company. OnStar for example starts some
of their projects 75% complete
from day 1 through extensive re-use of services, giving them a significant time-to-market advantage over

Fortunately, there is another strategy for justifying an
aggressive push into enterprise-wide SOA. At the recent Oracle OpenWorld 2011, Choice Hotels VP of Application
Development and Architecture Rain Fletcher as well as other key enterprise
architects from Choice Hotels, Eben Hewitt and Charlie Taylor, presented how
they quickly achieved buy-in during their big meeting with executives using a
simple, yet powerful approach. Rather than walking the executives through cell after spreadsheet cell,
they followed the “a picture is worth a thousand words (or should I say ‘spreadsheet
cells’)” strategy. During one of
the SOA panels, Eben recounted the key meeting and said he was looking forward
to the “What is the ROI for your enterprise SOA strategy” question. Well before the meeting, the architects
informally drew their existing architecture on a whiteboard which evolved over time into something as
complicated as the New York City Subway, the London Tube map, and the Boston T
(subway) overlaid on top of each other…hopelessly complicated. Although most business-focused
executives might not view enterprise SOA as a top priority, the Choice Hotel
executives took one look at the whiteboard image and immediately understood why
Internet-based business objectives couldn’t move at the pace they needed to,
couldn’t innovate with the latest Google API interoperability, and
couldn’t be first-to-market with innovative cloud deployments. The visual impact of the “spaghetti/bird-nest”diagram
jumpstarted the executive's understanding of the as-is business inertia challenge…hard to
move rapidly based on that infrastructure (see image below).

Choice Hotels pre-SOA informal application architecture whiteboard diagram

So if you are looking for a rapid solution to convey to
non-SOA savvy executives why enterprise SOA needs to be a top priority,
consider the “picture is worth a thousand cells” strategy. Even if you put the time and effort
into the ROI of SOA spreadsheet, complementing your justification with an image
can jumpstart their understanding. They may not be 100% convinced after staring at the image for
10 seconds, but you’ve taken them past the tipping point…and 10 seconds is an
impressive break-even time compared to a spreadsheet-only approach.

Eben and Rain discussing their ROI of SOA meeting with executives at OOW

Oracle OpenWorld 2011 SOA Panel with Rain Fletcher (far right) and Eben Hewitt (second from right) from Choice Hotels explaining their ROI of SOA justification

So take your Dry Erase marker and sketch out your as-is infrastructure and invite everyone else to add their input.  Before long, your new social media platform (the whiteboard) will replace the water cooler as the ideal location to better understand your as-is infrastructure and collectively brainstorm for a better tomorrow.

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