An Evaluation Matrix for an Enterprise Architect

Some times, a simple concept may be crystal clear to you in your mind, but, it may be difficult to grasp by the audience. Enterprise Architects must continuously work on the soft skills to communicate a message successfully irrespective of the audience knowledge level. In that regard, an evaluation matrix for an enterprise architect is given below.

  • Perform the necessary action to meet the given objective and unable to communicate to the necessary stakeholders = FAILED,  as an enterprise architect to meet the mission
  • Does not perform the necessary action to meet the given objective & unable to communicate to the necessary stakeholders = FAILED, as an enterprise architect to meet the mission
  • Does not perform the necessary action to meet the given objective = FAILED, as an enterprise architect to meet the mission
  • Perform the necessary action to meet the given objective and able to communicate to the necessary stakeholders = SUCCESSFUL, as an enterprise architect to meet the mission

A set of soft skill must be possessed by an enterprise architect to be a successful enterprise architect. Enterprise architect must be able to connect to the application team, infrastructure team, IT finance team, IT procurement team, business teams, senior management, executive management and others.

IT Finance Management Framework – Part 3

Typically, the organization structure is,  managers, project managers & senior manager will be reporting to director in an IT organization. Directors will have a functional responsibilities like sales & marketing, customer service, finance and etc.  Managers and senior managers are responsible for the managing the project, lights on and enhancement. For a zero based budgeting, managers of each application area will be required to come up with forecast. The skills required for each managers to come up with forecast are given below.

  • Understanding of over all business process
  • Understanding of their respective business  strategy and their current annual business plan. For ex. if a manager supports call center systems, then that manager must understand customer and service business area’s plan for that year.
  • Understanding of external market condition
  • Understanding of work load in their area in the past and correlation with business strategy and its annual business plan
  • Understanding of technological obsolescence and flexibility of their systems
  • Trend analysis

The above skills will be used to develop the forecast for keep the lights on, discretionary and projects spend for their respective systems, infrastructure, shared service.

it-finance-structure

Each manager will have set of systems to support. Logical group of the system are assigned to an internal order number. Each internal order number will have a set of systems. The light on, discretionary and project spends are allocated for each internal order number.

Only the department level cost center and general ledger (GL) number level cost will be submitted to the controlling office and eventually in to the enterprise financial systems like SAP or Oracle Financials.   The cash budget will have line items only  GL level (like employee, contractor, and etc) , director level consolidation of GLs and department level consolidation of GLs.  The rest of classification like lights on , enhancement, internal order number and etc are just allocation within the ITM budget for better understanding and reporting.

This step completes the creation of budget for the IT organization. The next step is to track the actual and report to stakeholders. The next part will focus on tracking the actual cost and reporting it to the various stakeholders.

IT Finance Management Framework – Part 2

Understanding how the IT budget process fit into the overall corporate finance is essential to grasp the big picture.  The following figure illustrates how the IT G&A operating budget fits into the over all corporate finance.

it_ga_budget2

IT organization must decide the technique suitable for the budget cycle. To select the best suited techniques the organization must make them self familiar with the available options. Let me list the various widely used technique available to create the IT G&A operating budget.

  • Static Budget – Presents one forecast for a given time frame and does not change for budget cycle
  • Flexible Budget – Budgeted Revenue and cost are adjusted during the budget cycle
  • Incremental budget – Previous year actual are taken as the base line and added or deleted additional cost for current year
  • Zero Based budget – Begins from ground up
  • Top Down budget – Each directors are given a budget task to align to CIO budget target
  • Participatory Budget – Developed as a collaboration with all directors (generally very difficult to make it practical)

There are other budgeting technique like activity based budgeting, Kaizen budgeting and etc. Kaizen  is a type of incremental budget with cost effectiveness target are given to each directors. To make the framework complete, I understand the widely used budgeting technique must be captured and it will eventually.

For this version 0.1, I want to start with zero based budget since I like the concept. It is very practical and gives an opportunity to each director or even senior manager or manager level to challenge every activities and look for some level of business case. Zero based technique can be used if it is top down budget and budget task are given by CIO to each director. Let me start with ZBB.

Zero based budgeting must be done in the manager or team leader level and rolled up to director and CIO level.  It requires the manager or team lead to understand the business and forecast the work required to keep the systems lights on, enhancements and G&A project.

it-finance-mgmt-how-to

The cost for lights on, enhancement and projects are will be incurred by employee, contractor, purchase servie, software cost & hardware cost. Each manager or team lead under each director will forcast for lights on, enhancement and project in terms of employee, contractor, purchase service, software cost and hardware cost.

The training required to perform the forecast will be the starting session of next part of this initial IT Financial Framework.

Management in business – Not a precision engineering

I observed few management team members  got into the trap of making management in business, a precision engineering.  Philosophically, I completely differ that management in business can’t be precise in a corporate environment. Due to office dynamics, politics, internal and external uncertainties, management in business is all about approximation but not perfection.

In most of the cases, the practical approach should be : “THINK BIG, START SMALL, RUN FAST”

Technically, management in business can be precise but it’s very expensive. I had read few dynamic programming papers published from Nasa on how the project schedule conflicts are resolved using various optimization theories. Those techniques were published as a research paper. While management in launching a rocket to outer space business need precision engineering but, for instance, when you create a draft project charter, you do not.  Corporation should not be spending their time to make it perfect when they you are dealing with uncertainities. I understand, plan is nothing but planning is everything. But when a project lacks clarity on its scope, don’t spend  time on planning but use it wisely to improve the clarity of the project.

IT Vendor Risk Management

IT vendor risk management is a component of over all IT risk management. In my previous blog on over all IT risk management, there is a comment from pmhut  to expand each component of the IT risk management.  Let me expand my thoughts on IT vendor risk management and provide a framework to develop the IT vendor risk management.

Steps to develop a IT vendor risk management plan:

  1. Develop a consolidated list of all IT vendors
  2. Categorize the vendors broadly
  3. Prioritize the vendors in each category based on the type of business you are in. For instance, if IT supports retail business, the Point of Sale is key functioin and the vendors supporting that line of business is very critical to the day to day operation. It will have top most priority than any other vendors.)
  4. Identify the potential risk of the vendors
  5. Analyze the potential risk of the vendors
  6. Develop residual risk matrix
  7. Monitor the residual risk matrix and repeat from step 4.
  8. Report the residual risk matrix to CIO office periodically.

Step I: Develop a consolidated list of all IT vendors

Get a IT vendor list from corporate purchase/procurement department. Make sure the following information are available

  • Account representative contact information – Office Phone, cell phone, snail address, email address
  • Investor contact information – Depends on the type of the company – corporate, partnership, properitary and etc
  • Client list

Step II: Categorize the vendors

Types of vendor involved in a typical IT organization.

  • Sourcing provider
    • Alliance provider (like out sourcing provider)
    • Human resource provider for in sourcing. It is generally for time and material model for 6 months to 1 year engagement
    • Consultant provider for insourcing. It is generally for time and material model for a specialized role for a very short time.
  • Software provider
    • Enterprise software system provider (like SAP, Peoplesoft, Fidelity and etc). Enterprise software system depends on the type of business.
    • Office software (like MS Office,and etc)
    • Specialized software provider  (for instance, in the financial industry, quantum is a specialized treasury software provided)
  • Service provider
    • Infrastructure service provider (in most cases, it includes all the system software like OS, database and etc)
    • Research consulting service provider (market research and etc – like gartner.com, executiveboard.com)
    • Specialized service provider (depends on type of business – credit score card development provider and etc)

Step III: Prioritize the vendors

Prioritize the vendors based on their dependencies to the core IT operation. It depends on the business you are in. If there is alliance provider to performing lights on support to an IT organization, then that provider play a vital role in IT operation. For an instance, if it is financial administration company (like financial out sourcing) then their enterprise application like SAP financial plays a major role to perform their core operation. 

 Lately, almost all organization utilizes the outsourcing company to provide lights on service to the core IT operation.

Step IV: Identify the potential risk of the vendors

Sourcing provider (includes alliance and out sourcing provider) is taken as an example and the associated risk are identified. The similar steps can be taken for other types of vendors.

Service level risk

Measure the performance of the provider against the objective set in the beginning of the engagement.  In some cases, the sourcing provider is selected to provide partnership or alliance to improve innovation or business consultation or value creation and few other cases, the provider is selected to provide the on going lights on support. In my example, I will assume the provider is selected to provide the on going lights on support. The typical performance measure for the lights on support are given below:

  • Service quality
  • Service delivery time
  • Missed service level
  • Response time
  • Resolution time
  • Problem repeatability rate

For an outsourcing engagements after the due diligence and contract and terms & conditions are agreed by all parties, there are two major phases. Transition phase and stabilization phases. The sample performance measure listed above will be used for the risk identification after the stabilization phase.

Receive the trend data for the performance measure and compare against the original agreement with the provider. Develop a variance analysis and repeat the cycle. If there is a negative variance in the measure for a prolonged duration then there is an issue. There is a risk that provider to continue under perform and impact the core IT operation.

Vendor Financial stability risk

I would not have come up with this as one of the potential risk item before Satyam scandal. I would not had  even considered it before the scandal. 

  • Participate in quarterly earning call
  • Study the provider balance sheet
  • Study the probability of liquidation or solvenacy
  • Identify your contribution percentage to the provider’s bottom line
  • Identify their auditors reputation

Vendor strategy risk

Request vendor to provide their corporate strategy and make sure their direction is aligned to your expectation of their service. If provider corporate strategy is to out of service business and sell software products, then organization currently receiving provider’s service need to know that. There is a risk that the provider will not focus on the service in near future and their service quality will deteriorate

Vendor cultural risk

It is a philosophical discussion. It depends on the philosophy you believe in. Few believes, same behavioural partners will lead into the strong longer marriage and few believe the opposite. I have an unpublished paper on “Q-learning algorithm for a quick and better mutal understanding of marital partners in the east Indian arranged marriage culture”. Two years after my arranged marriage (I saw my wife a week before my marriage) I wrote this paper. This paper assumes that both partners have commitment before the marriage that no matter what happens, they are going to make their marriage successful. 

I will leave the vendor cultural risk assessment up to your belief. Whatever your believe, the vendor cultural risk must be assessment.

Vendor Geo-political risk

Majority of the outsourcing players are from India. Geo-political risk for an outsourcing project has been a factor all the time. When it comes the analysis of the risk and probability of occurance, it used to score very low. In the recent past, as mentioned in my previous blog, it is elevated.

Vendor take over risk

In the financial world, when a small fish swims with strong cash gills, the big fish will swallow for good.

The above identified risks are  the major risks I could think of. There are few risks like provider employee retention and etc.. Those risk can be amplified based on type of organization you are in. I heard many times that business knowledge like electronic fund transfer knowledge will be lost if the provider keep losing their employees. In my opinion, those are very insignificant risk because eft can be learned by any programmer very quickly. However there are areas like 3D drafting package development out sourcing. Systems like this needs extensive analytical geomentry mathematical knowledge, programming language knowledge, device drivers knowledge and etc. It is very difficult to get people with all the skills. Mathematicians with extensive computer engineering hands on experience with executive level communication skills.  The initial training for these kind of development would take 8 – 10 months. These are rare cases and I’m not going to expand.

Step V: Risk analysis

All the above identified risk should have:

  • Probabaility of occurance
  • Cost of business impact if the risk becomes an issue
  • Risk treatment
    • Avoidance
    • Reduction
    • Transfer
    • Retention (accept it)
  • A plan for avoidance, redution and transfer risk treatments

Step VI: Residual Risk Matrix

The residual risk matrix is a consolidated vendor risk exposure to the organization.

Step VII: Monitor Residual Risk Matrix

A dedicated team and process to monitor the residual risk matrix of the organization.

Step VIII: Reporting

Report the RRM to the CIO, steering committe and operating committe of vendor management for a proactive informated decisions.

High Demand IT jobs in 2009

In the recent well know IT industry research firm’s study, analysts (the authors of the paper)  identified list of IT roles hard to fill even in this market. In the  paper, the top most of list is enterprise architect. EA role is  hard to find even in this poor job market. The report also stated that the demand of enterprise architect in 2008 grew and predicted that the demand of enterprise architect will continue to grow in 2009. The sample taken in the study is in the range of 250 companies.

Why companies hire enterprise architects even in this poor job market and here are my rationale.

  1. Enterprise Architect is not like programming or administration skill. It can not be mastered by under going a certification process. It is a good balanced combination of  IT  and business knowledge to assist the senior executives to identify the discretionary and mandatory  spend of organization.
  2. Cost optimization ideas are most needed and common in this economic climate and enterprise architect would play a significant role. Enterprise architects would be able to come with out of box ideas to sustain in the market condition. The specific ideas are based on the industry. Just to amplify the above point, let me take BFSI industry. A seasoned enterprise architect in BFSI industry will understand the major driver of the business and propose an investment strategy to the office of CIO.  Even to be more precise, in this credit market, consumer leading companies shall look for a refined credit score cards and EA would provide recommendation to executive management office that the systems in the IT landscape should be flexible to accommodate the changes to support the credit score card. Influence the executive steering committee of investment strategy team to assign more weights to credit scorecard project since it has direct impact to the bottom line of the lending business. Even in some cases, based on their business knowledge depth, EA are in good position to even recommend the credit risk management team in the lending company  various options available to non traditional credit score card fit the current economical situation. In stead of traditional logistic regression credit scoring model, they would be in better position to recommend how the joint time frequency analysis (like wavelet analysis, Gabor transformation, short time Fourier transform and etc)  can be applied particularly in this economy. There is no standard scoring model available which analyze the behavior of the credit market in the joint time and frequency domains and it is very appropriate in this economic situation.

2009 Economical-Magic

Flow of electron is current and flow of cash is economics. If no electron flow then there is no current and if there is no cash flow then there is no bright economy. It is as simple as that.

What is the solution for the current economic crisis?

Increase consumer confidence

Consumer confidence is measured by the consumer confidence index and it is record low now. Economics is a social science studies the production, distribution, consumption of good & services. Consumption is the driver for distribution and production. The consumer adapts a conservative approach for consumption of goods and services and hence there is a slow down in the whole cycle. The conservative approach chosen by the consumer due to bleak future.  Consumer are not spending due to uncertain future and current & near future depends on the consumer spend. I call this situation as “economical dead lock”. 

The lock only be released by consumers and it depends on creating HOPE in them. Any big events in first quarter of 2009 is going to create that hope in consumer. The big event could  categorically be under  geo-political, scientific invention, leadership, Government policy.

The president elect going to sworn in first quarter of 2009 and he already made clear that his top priority is to focus on economy. By introducing new policies, regulation and deregulation in certain areas, introducing all construction projects are likely would  provide confidence in consumer that there is a bright future ahead. That magic would release the economical dead lock. 

It is highly likely that global economy will turn around by 3rd or 4th quarter of 2009.