Day: June 27, 2008

Roadmaps for IT organization

Road maps for IT organization:

Like application portfolio assessment, formation and maintenance of set of road maps for IT organization is a key function for enterprise architects and IT strategist. Let me explain the following. What is a road map? Why do we need it? Different types of road map for IT organization? Who creates it? How it can be created to add value to the IT organization? How to use them effectively?

What is a road map in general?

Road maps are supporting tools to simplify and better communicate the strategy execution. Road map is a high level guide to reach the vision. Road map communicates in high level the path organization chosen to reach the vision

IT organization vision statements are generally very high level. It is suppose to be like that. IT organization vision statements are like “IT provides the best in class service to business”, “IT adds business value to bottom line by delivering technological solutions”, “IT be the effective business enabler”, etc and etc. To reach the organization vision, IT organization should have a strategy (strategy map) that is, alignment of various components of the organization (like people, process, technology, finance and customer) and use it effectively to march towards the vision.

For each components of the organization, there is road map which guides the organization to reach the vision. .

Why do we need road maps?

People in the organizations always have these questions in mind. What is that vision statement means to me? What I am supposed to do in my daily function? How the technologies people support will be impacted by the organization vision? What will happen to the applications being supported by organization people? What is that means to my job? These kinds of questions are normal and road maps helps to answer these questions and provide a clear understanding of what is the path organization chosen to reach the vision. It assists the organization people to ensure they understand how they are aligned with their career ambitions and the path organization chosen to take to reach the vision.

What are different types of road maps applicable in an IT organization?

  • Technology road map
  • Process road map
  • People road map
  • Application (or system) road map

Technology road map: For any IT organization, the technologies play a vital role. In some (or most) cases, there are redundant technologies serving the same purpose. The classic example would be, ETL (Extract transform & load). Organization tend to have multiple ETL tools due to various technical and non technical reasons. Other most occurring example would be to SAP. SAP has lots of packages like procurement and due to lack of full understanding of all modules in the SAP, the organization tend to procure other off the shelf products where the same functionality is available in the SAP. The technology road map is to support the organization strategy. If the organization marching towards cost effective, secure, innovative IT organization, then the redundant technologies should be eliminated, bring the latest security tools and provide a platform for the innovation like web 2.0, second life etc.

Process road map:
With increased regulatory requirements like FSA (Financial statement audit) and SOX, internal process to perform IT functions have been increasingly challenging. These regulatory requirements mandates the IT organization to have a best managed IT controls. At the same time, the organizations can not be confined with stringent process and limit the agility and adaptability. With the increased market demand and to drive innovation across the IT organization, IT internal processes should be balanced between these competing requirements. Based on the core business the IT organization supports, the IT organization should balances the requirements and devise a plan to accomplish the balanced process. Process road map is to illustrated the path the organization will take to strike the balance. In the past, I worked in a project team to develop internet imaging product (flashpix) to display the flash pix images in the web sites to support the online catalog. The team management do not want to follow any SDLC process to do the product development. The project requirement was to have 100% agility. It was a product development and the goal was to launch a product in the next release of web servers (like netscape, apache) for all HP servers in 60 days. At the same time there was no SOX requirement at that time. 🙂 The point is, the process road map must meet both the IT organization direction and also the core business it supports.

People road map:

Sourcing strategy is a sub set of IT strategy. The people road map is a sub set of sourcing strategy. Sourcing strategy addresses how the organization will be aligned to support the IT strategy. Sourcing strategy includes kind of employees, right sourcing partners, consultants, temporary consultants are required, the structure of the organization, operating model, service delivery model and etc to drive the IT organization to support the IT strategy. People road map, is the competency framework for the organization. What are the competency, skills and roles required in the future and how the organization is planning to acquire those in the near future.

Application road map:

Bruce Henderson (the founder of Boston consulting group) introduced growth share matrix to assist corporation in deciding how to allocate their investment among their business units. The same concept for the application (or system) road map. The application road map is an outcome of the application portfolio assessment. Decide the applications belongs to the cash cows area and invest on those application to improve the flexibility, availability, etc. The application belong to dogs, do not invest and find a retirement plan for those dogs. Simply put, it can be categorized into three. Invest, Retain and retire. The application which are in the retain category, do the minimum to do run the applications.

Who creates these road maps and how it is created in the an IT organization?

The creation of these road maps are lead and managed by the enterprise architects & IT strategist. Major stakeholders involved in the creation process are the CIO office, executive management and senior management of the IT organization. It SHOULD NOT be developed just by the enterprise architects and IT strategist teams. It is a collaboration efforts lead by the EA.

How to use them effectively?

Once the road maps are created and maintained, for any investment made by the IT organization, it should be used as the guide. It emphasis the organization direction is aligned to the IT strategy.

Neuro Dynamic Programming Language (NDPL)- Computing Future

Neuro dynamic programming is a stochastic/mathematical/control theory concept. It is nothing to do with computer programming language. NDP addresses optimization problem.

Neuro dynamic programming is an another topic I have been very interested in and I have been expressing this vision that the next generation programming language is going to be based on this. It is going to be next paradigm in the computer programming language. The concepts has wide applications today in various discrete engineering fields from signal processing, packet switching, space exploration etc. It is going to be available for day-to-day application in near future.

I have to reproduce some of the detail documentation I wrote few year ago starting from the framework. The objective of this blog is to provide a high level (with out using any mathematical models) explanation of NDPL.

15-20 years ago, structural programming language like COBOL, PASCAL, C were popular, object oriented programming language like Small Talk just came up and it took significant time to gain and sustain momentum and today we use OO languages like Java. The OO concept was extended to the other widely used computer programming languages.

What is Neuro Dynamic Programming?
I would like to have a separate blog on what is NDP. But I will let you know how I got exposed to this concept. I have been trying to solve stochastic problems using Markov Decision process and explored more on unsupervised learning problems like Robotics path finding using reinforcement learning (It is a solution not a problem), Q learning, MaX Q, NDP, etc.

What is Neuro Dynamic Programming Language?

It is computer programming language combines the concepts of object orientation, Ontology, and NDP. Ontology is a presentation of knowledge. NDP is a way to seek optimal solution in a unsupervised dynamic environment. Object oriented concepts includes inheritance, polymorphisms, functional over loading etc.

Think about programming languages developed based on objects (like dealer objects, car objects) which has prior knowledge (ontology) and continue to learn using NDP. Let us say there is a car object with VIN 39AVN4821S4XY23. Develop this object using NDPL once, and it will always contain the latest information about that car and anyone using that car object (DMV, insurance, re marketing web sites, etc) will get the latest information..

Cool huh!! more to come..

Developing this concept, writing the programming language constructs and designing a programming language can easily end up a Ph.d Thesis..