Increasing amounts of data, redundant IT structures, an IT landscape that is constantly growing – the will is often there, but the right approach is missing to master the complexity of IT systems that have grown. Enterprise Architecture Management, EAM for short, promises a key to the solution. We ask dr. Norbert Frick, member of the Committee for Research and Practice in the National E-Government Competence Center (NEGZ eV), how a real IT transformation can be designed with the help of EAM.
Enterprise architecture management sounds complex. What do you mean by that?
Norbert Frick: For me, EAM is a management discipline for shaping an organization, which also includes IT. With a mix of different methods and tools, IT complexity can be surveyed and reduced. Processes and projects are still too often delayed because IT is too cumbersome or difficult to control. In times when digital innovations are the order of the day and markets are changing rapidly, nobody can afford that anymore. It is about creating standards with which organizations and especially IT landscapes can be set up securely and efficiently in the future.
That sounds reasonable, but also like a lot of work. What’s the best place to start?
The first thing to do is to get an overview. Only those who know the structures and relationships can derive optimization potential from them. The next step is the consolidation of IT. By eliminating unnecessary or redundant systems, significant costs can be saved and IT becomes more agile on top of that. Ultimately, this can result in strategic IT planning that is embedded in the overall architecture of the organization.
What could such strategic IT planning look like?
In order to be able to look to the future, it is important that the basis is in place. To do this, standards must be defined and, above all, adhered to. Then you can ask yourself: What does our target architecture look like? What strategic and value contribution can our IT make? How do we achieve maximum agility?
And how can authorities benefit from this?
In the end just like any other organization. Above all, it needs a clear target image and the support of management. In the government environment, however, employees often suffer from outdated IT structures. Here, modern software solutions, even with limited resources, can quickly bring about a significant improvement in IT management.
So you would rely on software when it comes to EAM?
Definitive. Most tools offer extensive customizing options with which you can adapt the functions individually to your requirements. Ready-made workflows and reports as well as standard interfaces make life even easier.
Were you able to learn more from past EAM projects?
First and foremost, it is important that the roles in the project and later in ongoing operations are clearly regulated. In addition, the goals should be clear. What are we doing it for, what is the benefit? This usually helps to convince all stakeholders involved and win them over for the project. Finally (at least for the introduction) the support of an external IT service provider is necessary, as the capacities and know-how are often lacking. An experienced project partner can initiate the right things at the right time. It is important to develop a concept and a detailed project plan based on all requirements. Then the course is set for a successful IT transformation.
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Josephine Jaguste is Communication Manager at CONET since May 2016.